The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic Celebrates the Proposed Investment in Independent Legal Advice and Representation
Toronto, Canada – April 26, 2021
The Federal government has released its 2021 Budget, demonstrating priorities and allocating funding for the coming years of pandemic recovery, including a renewed commitment to building a country free of gender-based violence through its National Action Plan.
We are excited to learn that among its objectives, the Federal government is committed to supporting a “national program for independent legal advice and independent legal representation for victims of sexual assault, as well as to support pilot projects for victims of intimate partner violence.”
This budget responds to the overwhelming need to expand and fund ILA by proposing to provide Justice Canada with $85.3 million over the next five years, starting in 2021-22.
The Clinic is the only feminist clinic to provide independent legal advice (ILA) as part of the Attorney General’s pilot program to provide survivors of sexual assault ILA in Toronto, Ottawa and Thunder Bay. The program, which offers survivors up to four hours of free advice from one or more lawyers on the referral list by phone or in person, is essential to securing a survivor’s right to fair representation in court.
The Ministry of the Attorney General recently announced its intent to expand the existing ILA program province-wide, beginning May 2021. The Clinic sees the recently announced funding as an opportunity for greater collaboration to ensure more marginalized and racialized women, those who self-identify as “woman,” including cisgender, transgender, intersex, Two Spirit and gender non-conforming folks, can access this service.
“If we are going to take gender-based violence seriously, then it must be funded seriously. The Federal budget does exactly this,” says Deepa Mattoo, executive director. “We are grateful that Justice Canada understands the crisis survivors face.”
The Clinic looks forward to working alongside both levels of government to ensure survivors of sexual violence receive the service and representation needed to live beyond their experience of gender-based violence.
The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic is a specialized clinic for marginalized and racialized women who want to build lives free from violence through increased access to justice and other systems. The Clinic was established in the memory of Barbra Schlifer – an idealistic young lawyer whose life was cut short by violence on the night of her call to the bar of Ontario on April 11, 1980. Since its founding in 1985, the Clinic has assisted more than 90,000 women.
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