LAO withdraws funding of African Canadian Legal Clinic

Margaret Parsons

Legal Aid  Ontario (LAO) has announced  that it will withdraw funding of the African Canadian Legal Clinic (ACLC) effective September 30.

Every dollar of funding currently provided to ACLC will be redirected to a new organization to provide dedicated services to the Black community, said a news release from the  LAO dated August 16 last.

It  noted that the LAO will ensure that ” there will be no interruption or delay to legal services to Black Ontarians and that LAO will immediately begin working with members of the community to establish a new community-based organization to deliver legal aid services to Ontario’s Black community.”

The  new organization has not been identified.

” In the meantime, LAO will provide legal services through the Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC), members of the private bar, and LAO’s Test Case Program,” the release said.

According to the news release, the Clinic Committee of the LAO’s Board of Directors  has found  that ACLC’s Board and management ” have engaged in financial mismanagement and that there has been a lack of board oversight.”

But Margaret Parsons, executive director of the clinic, has denied that it (the clinic) is ” in fundamental breach of its obligations ” under the funding agreement with the LAO.

“We have been audited up to the eyeballs and we have done everything that the auditors recommended. If the auditors had found embezzlement or fraud or any major mismanagement, we would have been shut down in a flash,” she told the Caribbean Camera.

The  LAO said in its news release that its priority is ” addressing the legal needs of a very vulnerable segment of our population – members of Black communities who need our help. We have work to do to meet those needs. LAO is committed to doing that work through hearing directly from members of the Black community, working with an Advisory Committee comprised of community leaders and investing additional funding to improve access to justice for members of the Black community,”

David Field, President and CEO of the LAO, is quoted in the release as saying that ” although LAO’s dispute resolution process is internal, it is clear to me that there is an overriding public interest in what has occurred. Therefore, in the interest of transparency, I have directed that the decisions of the Clinic Committee and supporting documents be posted on LAO’s website. ”



Parsons said  they ( the LAO ) don’t know what they are doing. They are making statements to try to appease  the Black community because they think we are stupid.

“But we are not going to take this lying down…We will take this to the Supreme Court, if we have to.”

She noted that the negative publicity about financial mismanagement of the clinic ” has created divisions in our community.

“But we still have the support of a large number of people who are concerned about the future of the clinic.

” And it’s business as usual at the clinic.”

” We are continuing to work for the community. If anyone in the community has an legal problem, they can contact us.”

A  meeting with concerned member of the African Canadian community to discuss the problems of the clinic will be held on Thursday at City Hall.