We Must Keep Public Interest Law Public!
SPCW is part of the People 4 PILC coalition. We have been PILC’s client on Stadler v. Director, St. Boniface, St. Vital 2020 MBCA 46 and are currently part of another coalition that PILC will represent when the Madut Inquiry begins. Mr. Madut, a newcomer to Canada, was killed by police while reportedly in a mental health crisis.
The current government has signaled, through a commissioned report and a mandate letter to the previous Minister of Justice, a desire to change how PILC is funded and governed. People 4 PILC is concerned that the proposed changes will make PILC less effective in holding governments to account on a variety of issues affecting Manitobans from human rights to the environment.
Why is it important right now? The government is proposing 19 pieces of legislation on March 3rd but they have not released the texts, just the titles. Some of the proposed Bills could include changes that could destabilize PILC.
Please check out our media release here and stay tuned for any calls to action. For now, please share these in your social media.
If you would like to join the growing coalition, now at 74 community organizations and people, please contact Oke at email@example.com
The Public Interest Law Centre has played a critically important role within Legal Aid Manitoba for almost 40 years as an apolitical, independent, evidence-based team acting in the best interests of Manitobans. It:
- Advocates for the most historically disadvantaged in our community who face systemic barriers: those who are living in poverty, those who have disabilities, and those who are most likely to face discrimination including newcomers, seniors, Indigenous people and LGBTQ2S+ people. They have a place to turn for help, free of charge, where their voices are amplified and discriminatory policies or practices are challenged on their behalf.
- Advances the human rights of individuals, communities and nations experiencing systemic barriers to inclusion and by taking on test cases to challenge and amend unfair laws and practices.
- Holds crown corporations, government departments and other public authorities accountable, ensuring processes and decisions are fair and transparent.
- Helps to advance reconciliation and respect for First Nations Laws by collaborating with Knowledge Keepers and First Nations in Manitoba.
- Represents consumers, and especially low-income and consumers, at public hearings that impact hydro, vehicle insurance and payday loan rates.
- Strengthens our democracy and social equality. PILC clients have garnered significant legal, human rights and consumer victories, positively impacting the quality of life for thousands of Manitobans.
- Promotes the protection of the environment and sustainability. PILC clients have halted the development of a $10.5billion Conawapa hydro-electric generating station, pushed for the reform of water-power governance, and modernized our environmental laws to make them more inclusive for Indigenous people and the broader community.
Our goal is to keep PILC’s independence and its ability to serve all Manitobans for decades to come. There is no other service like it in the province. For more information on PILC’s most recent successes please see their Impact Report.
The two most encompassing arguments against destabilizing PILC are:
- PILC’s long history of holding successive governments to account on systemic injustices.
- Public interest law must remain publicly funded through our tax system implemented by democratically elected officials.
Our democracy’s robustness can only be maintained if it is routinely exercised through challenge. For that to happen, our justice system, too often the last defense for members of marginalized communities, must be accessible.
True access to justice must include quality public interest services that are affordable and free of charge when possible. This can only be achieved through a service that:
- Achieves a diverse portfolio reflecting the needs and aspirations of individuals, communities and nations in addressing historic and ongoing systemic barriers to inclusion and sustainability;
- Has an open application process with case selection criteria that are merit-based and responsive to evolving community needs and issues;
- Has a planning process that regularly engages low-income individuals, communities and nations facing systemic barriers;
- Is independent from government, political and donor influence;
- Is financially stable, viable and resilient; and
- Respects Indigenous and Euro-Canadian legal traditions and recognizes that they are separate and distinct.
Without such a service, justice is denied to too many, too often.