Ian Mulgrew: Ottawa provides 11th-hour cash for refugees

In News by MIIC

Mark Benton is CEO of the Legal Services Society of B.C. Screengrab / Vancouver Sun

Only days before it was being forced to turn away needy refugees, the Legal Services Society of B.C. has received additional funding from the federal government.

The non-profit, legal-aid agency announced last month that it would stop taking applications for immigration and refugee services effective August 1 because it had run out of money as a result of the global refugee crisis.

The new $375,000 allows the LSS to maintain services until November while federal-provincial governments discuss future funding of immigration-and-refugee support.

“There’s three legal-aid plans across the country in real trouble,” explained LSS CEO Mark Benton on Tuesday. “Ontario has about 10 times the volume that we have. So we’ll need about a total of $1 million more than we budgeted — another $500,000 0r $600,000, but they’re going to need between $10 million and $13 million to finish the year and Manitoba is going to need a little bit, too.”

Benton anticipated an announcement in October about who will get what and how the federal funding pie will be divided.

“Because of the amount of money involved, I suspect it will have some fairly significant political involvement,” he added. “It won’t just be officials talking to each other, it will be politicians and getting them on side.”

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