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Press Release

Lawyers Hold Rally as Frustration with Legal Aid Ontario Grows

Canada NewsWire

TORONTO, Oct. 18, 2013 /CNW/ - Ontario's Legal Aid lawyers are staging a rally today at Legal Aid Ontario's Head Office on the day of their board meeting. The rally will take place at 1 pm at the agency's corporate offices at 40 Dundas St. West, Toronto.

Legal Aid lawyers are increasingly frustrated that their employer, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO), a government agency, is unwilling to even meet with them to discuss securing collective bargaining rights.  The lawyers first requested a meeting with CEO Bob Ward almost six months ago.

"We believe Mr. Ward's inaction is discriminatory," said Jillian Rogin, a Legal Aid Lawyer. "More than two-thirds of Legal Aid lawyers are women, and we are the most racially diverse group of public sector lawyers in the province. All other provincial government lawyers, such as those working for the Ministry of the Attorney General and those employed as crown attorneys, enjoy the right to collective bargaining. They are primarily male."

Lawyers will be joined at the rally by representatives of the Ontario Nurses' Association, the Ontario Provincial Fire Fighters Association and other labour and community groups who will deliver a loud message to CEO Bob Ward that the lawyers do not stand alone in an effort to end discrimination at Legal Aid Ontario.

"I can't understand how the CEO of a government agency thinks it is acceptable to discriminate against women-dominant groups of employees by denying them the same rights that male-dominant groups already enjoy," said Nancy Hutchison, secretary-treasurer of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and the executive responsible for women's issues.

Over 80 percent of Legal Aid lawyers have voted in writing to enter into a collective bargaining agreement with LAO yet CEO Bob Ward continues to ignore their requests. He has also ignored Attorney General John Gerretsen, who recently expressed his support for Legal Aid lawyers securing bargaining rights.

The LAO Lawyers organizing campaign represents over 200 lawyers from across Ontario who are employed as staff lawyers or duty counsel at Legal Aid Ontario in the Family and Criminal Courts, the Refugee Law Office, and at the Clinic Resource office.

SOURCE Legal Aid Ontario Lawyers' Organizing Campaign