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Funding is announced for a legal clinic at the Saint John Newcomers Centre on Feb. 22, 2024. Image: Regis Phillips

Funding for newcomer legal clinic in Saint John

By Regis Phillips Feb 22, 2024 | 5:01 PM

Newcomers in the Saint John region now have better access to legal services.

Federal officials announced $740,000 in funding for the Saint John Newcomers Centre (SJNC) on Thursday.

The funding will support the centre’s Civil Rights and Contract Rights for Racialized Newcomers project.

Officials with the centre said they will use the funds to:

  • Hire a full-time project director to develop a network of lawyers, legal experts, and front-line volunteers
  • Establish a project advisory committee to work closely with other local organizations that serve racialized communities and newcomers
  • Provide free independent legal advice in civil rights and contract law, supported by translation services, assistance to complete documentation and meeting accompaniment.

Operating for around 18 months, the legal clinic has provided more than 150 newcomers with legal services from lawyers around New Brunswick.

“I applaud the tremendous work that the Saint John Newcomers Centre’s legal clinic is doing to support racialized communities in New Brunswick. Their efforts will help newcomers better understand the Canadian justice system,” said Justice Minister Arif Virani.

“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.”

Justice Canada is providing funding for this project over four fiscal years through the department’s Justice Partnership and Innovation Program.

This program funds projects that support a fair, relevant and easy Canadian justice system in areas such as access to justice, addressing family violence, and emerging justice issues.

“We are deeply grateful to Justice Canada for its commitment and support in helping us develop, design, and create legal support for racialized newcomers through this project. This support will significantly enhance the ability of newcomers in our region to access legal services,” said Mohamad Bagha, managing director of the centre.

“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. This partnership with Justice Canada reinforces our dedication to empowering and assisting newcomers as they navigate the complexities of the Canadian legal system.”