LAO Newsroom

Responses to recent media enquiries

LAO Newsroom

LAO courthouse location in North Bay

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Legal Aid Ontario supplied information to the North Bay Nugget in response to a media enquiry received April 6, 2010. What follows is LAO's response to the North Bay Nugget's questions for the article "Delay to open new legal aid office slows court process" published Wednesday, April 7th, 2010.

Enquiry


Legal Aid Ontario was planning to open an office at the courthouse by the end of March. I was in court this morning and a judge made it sound like the legal aid office at 375 Main St. W. was closed. I popped by and found it was still open but referring many clients to a toll-free number.

Can you find out for me when the office at the courthouse might be open and what options people have for applying to legal aid for certificates?


Response


When the office at the courthouse might be open?

Although our legal aid office is transitioning into the new space into the courthouse, clients are encouraged to contact our toll-free 1-800 number, and clients who need to can continue to visit the current legal aid office for help and information. There is no disruption to service. Our toll-free Client Service Centre (1-800-668-8258, press 0) allows clients another option to get access to a wide range of services, including legal aid applications, over the phone if they choose.

Clients will soon also be able to apply for legal aid services at the same time they attend for their court appearance through the court-based office. Having an office at the courthouse is a convenient way to assist people when and where they need help. Clients who are in court can quickly travel down the hall to apply for legal aid, rather than having to leave the courthouse, and having to return to court on another day. Once our transition is complete, our court-based location will be open from 8:30 to 4:30, Monday to Friday Staff there will also provide support to duty counsel and coordinate with other agencies for referrals, which will help us deliver our services more efficiently and effectively.


What options people have for applying to legal aid for certificates?

What options people have for applying to legal aid for certificates?

In addition to the courthouse, we now have new ways in which clients can access a full-range of legal aid services, including applying for a certificate. For example, clients can apply for a certificate by phone, through our new 1-800 number. The number also provides access to other legal aid services such as summary legal advice, general information, and referrals to other social service agencies. The toll-free number connects low-income Ontarians to our client service centre, which is staffed by legal aid employees from communities across the province. The client service centre offers a more effective way of applying for a certificate. For instance, of the 1626 applications taken last year in North Bay, 843 were eligible for SOAP, the simplified online application process used by the client service centre. SOAP expedites the application process by over 50 per cent, and supports the provinces Justice on Target initiative.


For more information

For more information please contact:

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