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LAO Letter to the Editor Standard Freeholder

May 26, 2010


Re - Legal Aid cutbacks will hurt most vulnerable

I would like to provide some additional background information and clarify some issues raised in the article Legal Aid cutbacks will hurt most vulnerable. that appeared in the Standard Freeholder on May 18, 2010.

Legal Aid Ontario has phased out the old structure of legal aid application offices and moved to a model that provides new client access points that include a courthouse location, toll free legal aid phone services (1-800-668-8258 press 0 - even from a payphone no coins required), and our enhanced Legal Aid Ontario website. (www.legalaid.on.ca).

Clients now easily access legal aid services through our toll-free client service centre, one of 40 Legal Aid Ontario courthouse locations across Ontario or one of 9 district Offices.

Our toll-free legal aid service was established in response to our clients requests to have legal aid service available over the phone from the convenience of home or familiar locations. This toll-free service helps to eliminate transportation and language barriers by providing telephone-based assistance in 120 languages including 18 aboriginal languages and dialects, through simultaneous interpreting services.

Clients who need to speak with a legal aid representative in person can do so at the Legal Aid Ontario courthouse location in Cornwall, Monday to Friday between 8:30 to 4:30.

LAOs new service model features improved access to legal aid services for French-language speakers in Ontario. LAO clients previously could access services in French only by visiting LAO offices in areas of the province designated pursuant to the French Language Services Act. LAOs new service model facilitates Francophone clients to receive legal aid help and information in French from anywhere in Ontario.

Approximately 11% of LAOs client service representatives and 25% of their supervisors are designated bilingual English/French speakers. All client service staff receive French language service awareness training and designated English/French bilingual staff periodically participate in language skills development.

LAO maintains a priority queue for French-speaking clients to access bilingual client service specialists. Our new Interactive Voice Recording provides legal aid information to all callers in English and French, allowing them to get the help that they need, faster.

Kristian Justesen
Manager of Communications and Public Affairs
Legal Aid Ontario


For more information

For more information please contact:

Kristian Justesen
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
Email: justesk@lao.on.ca