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'I'm frustrated': Sask. government cuts ties with legal clinic, CLASSIC


The Saskatchewan government has cut ties with an organization that provides free legal help to those living in poverty.

Community Legal Assistance Services for Saskatoon Inner City (CLASSIC) aims to break down barriers in the justice system. It's best known for programming that pairs people needing legal representation with law students, who are supervised by lawyers.

The province has provided annual funding to CLASSIC since 2007. Over the past two years, the government gave $100,000 to CLASSIC — funnelled through the College of Law.

On April 1, the government ended its contract with the organization.

Chantelle Johnson, executive director of CLASSIC, said she's frustrated by the decision.

"I'm frustrated because right now, as the only community legal clinic in Saskatchewan, we know we need more support like CLASSIC, not less," Johnson told CTV News.

"CLASSIC is here and will walk with you through your legal process and treat you with dignity. What message is being sent to [our clients] if we're defunded? We don't care about people walking with you, or your dignity.

The funding cut comes at the same time the government gave $100,000 to the College of Law, aimed to help students work in different communities during their internships.

In a statement to CTV News, the Ministry of Justice said "CLASSIC's services are limited to clients in Saskatoon. The government of Saskatchewan wanted to expand student opportunities across the province."

These new student placements are all in government agencies — including public prosecutions and Legal Aid.

"I don't begrudge more student opportunities. I love law students and I think more student opportunities are better, but we need more agencies that are in the communities doing actual access-to-justice work in the trenches, not just government agencies," Johnson said.

"We're asking the government to reconsider its decision because $100,000 in the grand scheme of the Ministry of Justice budget is little but what we can do with it at CLASSIC is big."

To fill the funding gap, CLASSIC said it's looking at grant options and turning to private donors. Top Stories

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