Article in today’s Toronto Star, from the Canadian Press
I understand that legal aid lawyers make substantially less than those in private practice. But who will truly suffer as a result of this boycott? Poor people at the mercy of the legal aid system will suffer, as they will end up rotting in pre-trial custody because they can’t afford to hire a lawyer of their choice. Canadian law stipulates that each accused person is supposed to have the right to “full answer and defense.” How can this happen if people are denied legal representation?
Ontario’s criminal lawyers are poised to expand their boycott of the province’s legal aid system and The Canadian Press has learned it could come in two weeks.
More than 1,000 defence lawyers are currently refusing to defend all homicide cases as well as gangs and guns indictments to protest the pay they get from legal aid.
The Canadian Press has obtained a memo that indicates lawyers will expand their boycott unless the province agrees by Jan. 24 to pay them more.
Board members of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association from across the province met in Toronto this weekend to discuss the dispute with the province and how to proceed.
Currently, seasoned defence lawyers are paid about $96 per hour for handling legal aid cases compared to $250-$400 per hour for similar cases in private practice.
More than 100 people in Ontario who have needed a lawyer through legal aid have been unable to get one because of the job action.