On December 17th, Warren (Smokey) Thomas sent this letter to Legal Aid Ontario CEO, David Field, asking that LAO commit to supporting Parkdale Community Legal Services’ bid to acquire a long-term lease in the community they serve. Parkdale Legal was provided an eviction notice by their landlord in the fall of 2018.
Mr. David Field
Chief Executive Officer
Legal Aid Ontario
200 – 40 Dundas Street West
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2H1
December 17, 2018
Dear Mr. Field:
I am writing about an issue of great concern to OPSEU members working at Parkdale Community Legal Services (PCLS) and the residents they serve in this community.
PCLS is a vital Parkdale institution. Residents rely on it to help them with legal issues they face concerning immigration, housing, social assistance and employment, among others. PCLS has been a leader in the community, preventing unjust evictions and forcing landlords to maintain their rental units.
Now the clinic’s own existence in Parkdale is threatened by a pending eviction by their current landlord due to renovations in their building. PCLS is actively searching for another space to lease in the neighbourhood.
PCLS needs Legal Aid Ontario, their funder, to commit to funding a long-term lease in order to secure another space in Parkdale. In a December 7 article in the Toronto Star, LAO Vice-President Jayne Mallin recognized the importance of keeping PCLS in Parkdale and said she was committed to working with PCLS to find an appropriate long-term space in the neighbourhood.
However, my members tell me that LAO has informed PCLS that you will not fund a long-term lease in Parkdale. Further, they say you are encouraging the clinic to move to an office on University Avenue, far from Parkdale and the residents it serves. This makes no sense at all, even as an interim measure. University Avenue is inaccessible to many residents of Parkdale, especially the most vulnerable members of the community.
You have the power to ensure that PCLS remains in Parkdale and accessible to their clients. PCLS is not asking for new funding. They are simply asking you to continue funding leased office space in the community of Parkdale.
OPSEU members stand with the residents of Parkdale. We insist you do everything possible to ensure PCLS stays in the community it serves.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union
c: Jayne Mallin, VP Southwest Region, Legal Aid Ontario
Aidan Macdonald, President, OPSEU Local 5118