Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star immigration reporter, published this article on Monday April 20, 2015. He notes that after two years of consultations, the body that administers the province’s legal aid program will start screening lawyers representing refugee claimants based on their experience, expertise and records if they want to be paid to do asylum cases. In 2014, Canada received 13,133 asylum claims, two-thirds of them in Central Region that covers Greater Toronto. The issue arises from ongoing concerns over poor representation of the most vulnerable by some lawyers in jeopardizing legitimate refugees’ claims for protection. Legal Aid Ontario has set a July 17 deadline for lawyers to submit to the screening process, where they must fill out an application to detail their experience in representing refugees at the Immigration and Refugee Board and Federal Court of Canada. Any lawyer who does not apply before then or fails to meet the standards will be removed from legal aid’s roster. However, there are those who express reservations as to whether refugee lawyers, despite their diligence and good intent, are able to do everything expected of them with the limited number of hours Legal Aid Ontario pays for.
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