An Analysis of Immigration and Refugee Law Services in Canada


Part One of this report presents a descriptive account of the immigration and refugee law legal aid services in each of the six provinces that extends coverage in this area: British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland. The topics addressed in this discussion include the structure of legal aid, eligibility criteria, and the types of services offered (public legal education, advice, legal representation, duty counsel representation, and translation or language assistance). Legal aid respondents were also asked to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the current system for delivering immigration and refugee legal aid services, notably in terms of what is working well about this system (success stories), what is not working well (problem areas), and any outstanding gaps.

In addition to descriptive information, Part One also presents available quantitative data submitted by legal aid plan representatives on the number and type of legal aid cases involving immigration and refugee law, the cost of services in this area, and the characteristics of clients. The amount of data included was determined by what respondents were willing or able to collect for the purposes of this project. For example, some provinces do not break down immigration and refugee law cases by legal issue, while other jurisdictions can provide some detail on the number of cases dealt with by specific matter. The amount of information available on coverage refusals and client characteristics is generally very limited since most provinces do not track such matters. Overall, the data limitations encountered mean that there is considerable inconsistency in what is reported for provinces.

There is no formal legal aid coverage for immigration and refugee law in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. For these provinces, a brief discussion of legal aid structure and eligibility criteria is included, as well as the respondents' impressions concerning the lack of legal aid coverage for immigration and refugee law matters, and whether there is a need for services in this area.

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