TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will spend $26 million this year on refugee and immigration legal aid services in Ontario after the province cut funding.
Premier Doug Ford’s spring budget slashed Legal Aid Ontario’s budget by 30 per cent, including eliminating funding for refugee and immigration law services.
Ontario’s attorney general has said that Ottawa should pay those costs because immigration is a federal responsibility.
Doug Downey has said that the Trudeau government’s policies have led to a rise in refugee claims, so Ottawa should increase its funding.
Trudeau says responsibility for legal aid for immigration and refugee cases has long been a joint federal-provincial responsibility, but the Ford government “decided to step away from that.”
He says the funding announced today is one-time money, but he will “engage in reflections” on how to ensure the program’s long-term sustainability.
The Canadian Press