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N.B. newcomers centre receives funding to make legal services more accessible to marginalized people

Saint John-Rothesay MP Wayne Long is pictured on Nov. 14, 2023. (Derek Haggett/CTV Atlantic) Saint John-Rothesay MP Wayne Long is pictured on Nov. 14, 2023. (Derek Haggett/CTV Atlantic)

The Canadian justice department is working with the Saint John Newcomers Centre in New Brunswick to make legal services more accessible to marginalized people.

According to a news release from the federal government, the justice department is spending $740,237 on the project.

The money will support the centre’s initiative to provide free legal advice for civil rights and contract laws to low-income people and racialized newcomers, including refugees, landed immigrants and permanent residents from, primarily, Muslim and Latin American communities.

“This support will significantly enhance the ability of newcomers in our region to access legal services. We recognize the responsibility that comes with this funding and are committed to ensuring that it is used effectively to support and advocate for the legal rights of those we serve,” says Mohamad Bagha, managing director of the Saint John Newcomers Centre.

Arif Virani, minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, says he applauds the work of the legal clinic at the Saint John Newcomers Centre for supporting racialized communities in New Brunswick.

“This investment also supports our efforts to address systemic barriers against racialized individuals in Canada and improve access to justice and fairness in our justice system," says Virani.

According to studies by Justice Canada, marginalized people traditionally face additional barriers to access legal justice, like:

  • gender
  • gender identity
  • race
  • culture
  • religion
  • age
  • language
  • literacy
  • disability
  • income
  • geographic location

The $740,237 for the Saint John Newcomers Centre aims to make legal justice more accessible for groups that face those additional barriers.

"Everyone deserves high-quality and efficient services that are safe, accessible, and make their lives easier,” says Saint John-Rothesay MP Wayne Long.

The centre is a not-for-profit organization that aims to address individual needs of citizens and newcomers in the greater Saint John area, the release says.

The funding supports the Saint John Newcomers Centre’s Civil Rights and Contract Rights for Racialized Newcomers.

To accomplish the goals of the funding, the centre says it plans to:

  • Hire a full-time project director to oversee operations and develop a network of lawyers, legal experts and volunteers.
  • Establish a project advisory committee to supervise the project’s development and to work with other community organizations that work with racialized communities and newcomers.
  • Provide free independent legal advice in civil rights and contract law with translation, documentation and meeting assistance.

The funding will be spread out over four years and comes from the justice department’s Justice Partnership and Innovation Program, which runs from 2022 to 2026.

“This program funds projects that support a fair, relevant and accessible Canadian justice system in areas such as access to justice, addressing family violence, and emerging justice issues,” the federal government says.

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