‘Legal insurance policy’: Queen’s Legal Aid talks about upcoming AMS referendum

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In November, the Queen’s Legal Aid (QPA) $0.50 tuition increase did not pass in the AMS fall referendum. Blair Crew, director of QLA, hopes students will consider the importance of service in the upcoming winter referendum.

“We have an unbroken 28-year history of providing services to Queen’s Legal Aid students,” Crew said in an interview with The newspaper.

“Over Queen’s Legal Aid’s 50-year history, around 20% of our clientele are typically Queen’s students, mostly undergraduates. Currently, over 50% of our clients are Queen’s students.

According to Crew, the student clientele has increased significantly during the pandemic due to unauthorized violations related to gatherings.

“Our biggest area of ​​service request right now is the $2,000 administrative monetary penalties students are facing.”

QLA also handles tenant issues.

“We only represent tenants, not landlords,” Crew said.

“Between COVID complications and student rentals or students moving away and having to stay in Kingston […] there are a few notoriously bad owners.

The cases concern a variety of issues, including illegal evictions and repair and maintenance issues.

Students may also be represented by QLA when appearing before the University’s Student Appeal Board.

“There have been several instances over the past few years where we’ve successfully fought off an academic decision that would have meant a student should have withdrawn from college,” Crew said.

Since the fee increase did not pass in the fall referendum, Crew explained that the QLA is now “locked in” in the upcoming referendum to maintain the fee.

“In the odds and hopes of trying to preserve the student levy, we come back with the question if they will simply reaffirm the existing $5.50 per student fee,” he said.

According to Crew, the $5.50 serves as a “legal insurance policy” that allows all students access to a student social worker and attorney, who oversees their work.

The upcoming referendum is particularly important because it will allow the AQL to continue to represent all Queen’s students, not just those who meet the criteria set out by Legal Aid Ontario.

“As part of our funding agreement with Legal Aid Ontario, which provides us with several hundred thousand dollars […] we are permitted to represent Queen’s students who do not come from families living below the poverty line as long as we have a service fee agreement with the student body.

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