West Toronto Community Legal Services gets to stay open for another six months
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A law clinic in the city’s west end will stay open for a minimum of six months after reaching an agreement with its funder.
West Toronto Community Legal Services, located near Bloor St. W. and Dundas St. W., provides legal assistance to vulnerable people. It was put on the chopping block by Legal Aid Ontario last month when they decided not to renew the centre’s funding.
“They were unhappy with past governance practices,” Kier Munn, the clinic’s board chair and longtime legal aid lawyer said.
In a response to a Torstar News Service article on the impending closure, the LAO said they decided not to approve the funding for the upcoming year “based on issues related to clinic board governance, reporting and financial and human resources management practices.”
But Munn said they have entirely new management and directors now, and were able to convince Legal Aid Ontario to provide a reprieve at the reconsideration hearing two weeks ago.
“We’re in the process of bringing it more in line with what LAO wants,” he said. “The ideal ending will be at the next hearing that they say we’ve done a wonderful job, and that everything is as it should be.”
If the clinic is shut down, services will be relocated to an office near Yonge and Dundas, Munn said, which would be a detriment to their clients.
“We’re responsible to the community, we see the community,” he said. “When you keep the workers and the records in the community we get continuity.”
The law clinic has been open since 1985. Each year they help between 800 and 1,000 clients.
“We’re very pleased with the [extension],” Munn said. “It give us an opportunity to prove that the improvements that we’ve made and the changes we’ve made our durable.”
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