Lives Hang in the Balance

Cuts to Legal Aid for Immigrants and Refugees and the Impact on Women Fleeing Violence

On June 26, 2017 Legal Services Society (LSS) announced that they will no longer accepting new refugee and immigration claims as of August 1, 2017. The current geopolitical situation worldwide is seeing an increase of women from around the world leaving violence in their home countries to come to Canada. LSS has experienced a 145 % increase in refugee claims in the last three years without an increase in funding from the Canadian federal government.

Listen to Battered Women’s Support Services Executive Director Angela Marie MacDougall on CBC Radio The Early Edition – June 28, 2017 disusing the implications of the Legal Aid cut to immigrant and refugee women.

When arriving they may continue to face violence and isolation but are afraid to report violence usually in fear of further victimization and/or deportation. Battered Women’s Support Services provides support to immigrant and refugee women in our work responding to the unique and diverse needs of women new to Canada. That often times means supporting women through legal advocacy and their process applying for legal aid. Cutting legal representation for refugee and immigrants is unacceptable, women and their children are the most vulnerable who will be affected by and should be prioritized for services based on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

At Battered Women’s Support Services 42% of women who access our services identify as immigrant or refugee and may be in a position where they don’t even know their status in Canada because it has  been withheld by their abusive partner or they have been lied to about their status.

While the federal government is not fulfilling its responsibility to provide legal aid for immigration and refugee law matters, this has prompted the province of British Columbia to announce they’re stopping service and now immigrant and refugee women’s lives hang in the balance

 

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