LAO Newsroom

Responses to recent media enquiries

LAO Newsroom

LAO responds to questions about legal aid in northern Ontario

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Legal Aid Ontario recently responded to questions regarding legal aid services in northern Ontario from CBC Points North.


The usage of legal aid is seemingly higher in the north, specifically in the Kenora Region (according to the study The Geography of Civil Legal Services in Ontario) than in the southern parts of Ontario. How does this reign true?

The demand for legal aid services in the north is in line with other parts of the province, although the cost to deliver services in northern and remote communities is higher than in urban centers.

Consequently, the per capita expenditures for the delivery of legal aid services in Northern and remote communities is higher. Some of the factors that contribute to the higher costs are:

  • A 10% incentive on fees and travel paid to lawyers working in northern and remote communities
  • A guaranteed daily rate for lawyers attending fly in courts or who travel more than 200 km one-way in the course of providing service for legal aid clients
  • Additional time for lawyers to prepare Gladue submissions
  • Additional cost of supporting fly in courts and clients living in very remote communities.

LAO expenditures for legal aid certificate services in northwestern Ontario:

Region/Area

Total Expenditures for legal aid services- includes certificates, community legal clinics, and duty counsel services

Kenora

$2,135,788

Northwestern Ontario

$10,305,653 (including Kenora )



I know some of this is related to usage by First Nations individuals and has been now for many years. But what are the specific issues that are different here in the north that might cause the use of legal aid to be in higher demand?

See my answer above.



According to the study, cost per capita is higher in Kenora than the rest of the province can you explain why this might be the case?

Some of the factors that contribute to the higher costs of delivering services in northern and remote communities are:

  • A 10% incentive on fees and travel, paid to lawyers working in northern and remote communities
  • A guaranteed daily rate for lawyers attending fly-in courts or who travel more than 200 km one-way in the course of providing service for legal aid clients
  • Additional time for lawyers to prepare Gladue submissions.
  • Additional cost of supporting fly-in courts and clients living in very remote communities.

Some additional information about Legal Aid Ontario Aboriginal Justice Strategy that you may be interested in:

In 2007/08 Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) implemented an Aboriginal Justice Strategy to establish a plan to achieve measurable improvements in service to Aboriginal people.

Some of the successes to date of this strategy include:

  • Implementation of the Gladue panel for criminal lawyers wishing to acknowledge criminal legal aid certificates for Aboriginal clients. This means that lawyers now have to meet specific standards in order to represent Aboriginal clients
  • Release of the Gladue at Practice Continuing Legal Education training videos, which are part of the mandatory Gladue Panel standards
  • Over 500 LAO employees have attended Aboriginal Cultural Competency Training.

Kristian Justesen
Director of Communications
Legal Aid Ontario