Immigration detention representation enhancements

Published: December 2, 2020

Legal Aid Ontario is pleased to announce improvements to our services to persons in immigration detention, including the launch of the Immigration Detention Representation Program (IDRP) on a one‑year pilot basis.

LAO encourages panel lawyers to apply to the IDRP to develop expertise in detention representation and increase access to justice for immigration detainees.

These improvements also address the increased risk of COVID‑19 infection faced by persons in detention, and to the 2018 Immigration and Refugee Board audit report citing Ontario’s lower rate of representation at detention review hearings, compared to other provinces.

Tariff hours increase

Effective January 1, 2021, LAO is increasing the legal aid certificate tariff hours to prepare for a subsequent detention review hearing from one to three hours. With this change, lawyers will be paid for three hours to prepare for any detention review hearing, in addition to the actual time of the hearing.

Immigration Detention Representation Program

LAO is launching an Immigration Detention Representation Program (IDRP) in January 2021 on a one‑year pilot basis and seeking applications from general refugee panel lawyers to participate.

The IDRP will use a collaborative approach between refugee panel lawyers acting on certificates and LAO’s Refugee Law Offices in Toronto and Hamilton. The program will connect unrepresented detained clients with counsel in time to ensure meaningful representation at the 48‑hour review hearing, and subsequent hearings, if the client remains in detention. It will also provide training and mentorship to panel lawyers doing detention work. The aim of this hybrid model is to ensure access to counsel for all unrepresented financially eligible detainees.

The LAO website has details on the IDRP program and how to apply.

Panel lawyers interested in participating in the Immigration Detention Representation Program are encouraged to submit an application to refugee@lao.on.ca by December 11, 2020.