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Our History

The movement to create SALCO was started by a group of volunteers who noticed a real need for culturally and linguistically appropriate legal services for low-income South Asians. Since 1999, volunteers and staff worked tirelessly to find a way to fund a legal clinic dedicated to serving the South Asian community.

SALCO was run as a volunteer clinic from 1999 to 2001 by South Asian lawyers and activists. From 2001 onwards, it began receiving periodic project funding from Legal Aid Ontario to provide services through a lawyer and community legal worker. It also received funding from the Law Foundation of Ontario, who supported the vision of a permanent legal clinic.

With tremendous community support, and the hard work and dedication on volunteer lawyers, activists, and SALCO's limited staff, the organization was successful in receiving permanent funding as a legal clinic in 2007 from Legal Aid Ontario. In 2007, SALCO became the newest clinic to be funded in the province of Ontario. The demand for SALCO services continues to grow.

The South Asian community is the fastest growing visible minority group in Toronto (growing by 40% since 1996). Making this city, as the CBC notes, "the largest [South Asian] diaspora in the western hemisphere".

By the year 2017, more than one million South Asians will call Toronto home.

With an estimated 56% of Canada's South Asians living in Toronto in the next decade, South Asians will comprise the largest concentration of a specific group in any of Canada's largest metropolitan areas. South Asians are the largest visible minority group in Ontario. The population of South Asians in the GTA is or exceeds the population of most cities in Ontario.

At the same time, studies show that a large percentage of the South Asian community live in impoverished circumstances, falling into the low-income category. Studies also show that racialized communities, like the South Asian community, are more likely to fall into poverty based on systemic barriers like racism.

34.6% of South Asian families in Toronto live below the Statistics Canada Low Income Cut Off. Among this group, more than 50% of all Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan and Tamil families are living in poverty.