Law Foundation of Ontario grant bolsters free legal help to resettle Syrian refugees

TORONTO, Jan. 12, 2016 /CNW/ - The Law Foundation of Ontario has made a grant of nearly $90,000 to support free legal help that will assist the arrival of Syrian refugees in the Toronto area. The grant furthers the partnership of Lifeline Syria and the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program, a pro bono lawyer co-ordination effort led by the University of Ottawa's Refugee Law Hub.

Together, the organizations provide private sponsors with free legal services to help them navigate the refugee sponsorship process in the Toronto area. Nationally, more than 1,000 lawyers and supervised law students in five Canadian cities have volunteered with the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program to provide these services and the efforts are expanding rapidly.

"This Law Foundation funding is coming at a critical time and will help us mobilize volunteers and support those who have taken on the responsibility of sponsorship," says Ratna Omidvar, Chair of Lifeline Syria and Executive Director of the Global Diversity Exchange at Ryerson University. "Delays in processing these applications mean refugees continue to live in deplorable and unsafe conditions."

The Law Foundation of Ontario is making the grant through its Access to Justice Fund which currently has enhancing access to justice for refugee populations as one of its five priority areas.

"The Law Foundation of Ontario identified the legal needs of refugees as a priority for the 2016 Access to Justice Fund granting," says Foundation Chair, Paul Schabas. "The arrival of Syrian refugees highlighted these needs, and we're pleased to be able to respond so quickly to support access to legal services to assist the sponsorship of our newest Canadian residents. This grant will bolster the good work these organizations are doing and give sponsors access to the legal experts they need to get Syrian refugees here as soon as possible."

2016 Access to Justice Fund Call for Applications now open

The Law Foundation of Ontario created the Access to Justice Fund (ATJF) in 2009 after receiving a $14.6 million cy-près award. The ATJF is a unique, permanent fund that is being used to improve access to justice across Canada.

The 2016 Access to Justice Fund Call for Applications is now open and is accepting Letters of Intent until April 1, 2016. To be considered, applications must be from a Canadian non-profit organization and be for projects that address legal needs of or relating to one or more of the following priority areas: 1. Children and youth; 2. Consumers; 3. Public legal education, intake and referral; 4. Racialized groups; 5. Refugees.

Full details of the granting criteria and application process can be found on the Foundation's website at

About The Law Foundation of Ontario (
Established by statute in 1974, The Law Foundation of Ontario is the sole foundation in Ontario with the mandate of improving access to justice. Through granting and collaboration, the Foundation invests in knowledge and services that help people understand the law and use it to improve their lives.

About Lifeline Syria (
Lifeline Syria recruits, trains and assists sponsor groups as they welcome and support Syrian refugees coming to Canada as permanent immigrants to resettle in the GTA over the next two years.

About Refugee Sponsorship Support Program (SSP) (
Refugee Sponsorship Support Program is a nation-wide project that trains lawyers to assist groups seeking to privately sponsor refugees. Based at the University of Ottawa's Refugee Law Hub, the program recruits lawyers from any discipline, provides them with comprehensive online and in-person training and provides expert support to help them navigate the private sponsorship system.

SOURCE The Law Foundation of Ontario

Image with caption: "The Law Foundation of Ontario (CNW Group/The Law Foundation of Ontario)". Image available at:

For further information:

and to schedule an interview:

Nathalie Noël, Communications Specialist, The Law Foundation of Ontario
416-598-1550 ext. 312,

Kirsti Mathers McHenry, Director, Policy & Programs, The Law Foundation of Ontario

Ratna Omidvar, Chair, Lifeline Syria

Jacqueline Swaisland, Co-founder and Toronto Co-ordinator of Refugee SSP

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