Establish a stable source of funding for Pro Bono Ontario
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Pro Bono Ontario recently announced that it had no choice but to close its court-based help centres in Toronto and Ottawa on December 14, 2018 due to a lack of stable long-term funding. This can't happen.
PBO's court-based help centres provide critical assistance for unrepresented litigants who can't afford a lawyer. The centres help unrepresented litigants navigate the court system by providing a range of critical services including legal information, legal advice, court form completion assistance and duty counsel representation for many matters. The centres help secure access to justice for some of Ontario's most vulnerable people. The closure of the help centres would further exacerbate Ontario's access to justice crisis.
PBO's court-based help centres also provide exceptional value to the justice system and the public at large. They provide a return on investment of approximately $10 for every $1 invested and have proven to be a highly cost-effective means of providing pro bono legal services and facilitating access to justice.
Simply put, these court-based help centres are a fundamental part of a modern justice system. Allowing them to close would be a major step backwards for Ontario.
Here's what you can do to help save the help centres:
1. Add your name to the petition below. While a petition in this format can't be accepted by the Ontario Legislature, it shows the sheer number of people who know the value of the help centres and want to save them. See #3 below for information on a separate petition to the Legislature
2. Send a letter or email to Ontario's Attorney General. A template can be found here.
3. Print and fill out the official petition here. Be sure to get your friends and colleagues to sign their names as well, and follow the instructions on the petition to ensure that it can be presented to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Note that each signature page must contain the text of the petition at the top.
The text for the petition follows:
To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario
WHEREAS Pro Bono Ontario operates three court-based help centres that provide legal services for low-income, unrepresented litigants with civil matters in Ontario courts;
AND WHEREAS the court-based help centres provide invaluable legal services to the people of Ontario who would otherwise not be able to afford or obtain legal services;
AND WHEREAS the help centres are being forced to close due to a lack of funding;
AND WHEREAS the help centres facilitate access to justice in Ontario;
AND WHEREAS access to justice has already reached a crisis point in Ontario;
AND WHEREAS the help centres provide a return on investment of approximately $10 for every $1 invested and have proven to be a highly cost-effective means of providing pro bono legal services and facilitating access to justice;
AND WHEREAS all citizens of Ontario benefit from services that promote an efficient justice system.
We the undersigned petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to take a leadership role by ensuring Pro Bono Ontario has a long-term, stable source of funding that specifically supports its court-based help centres.
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