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Provincial Government invests $51 million to improve Access to Justice for low-income Ontarians

Posted on: July 19 /07

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) today outlined a plan for the allocation of the $51 million over three years in new funding announced by the Provincial Government in the spring Budget to improve access to justice for low-income individuals in Ontario. The new funding will be used to increase front line services for women and children, many of whom live in situations of domestic violence, expand community legal clinic poverty law services, widen French language services, improve services for the Aboriginal community, and ensure private lawyers continue to accept legal aid clients.

"The government's new long-term investment of $51 million over three years in Legal Aid Ontario speaks directly to the needs of low-income families across Ontario and the legal practitioners who make these services available,"

The new funding will be allocated proportionately between all LAO services and programs to ensure the widest possible impact for increasing client services. The Provincial Government's new investment will provide:

  • $3.65 million for 2250 more family certificates, many of which go to helping women and children, including survivors of domestic violence.
  • $1 million for a one-time block of 500 'reserve' family law certificates to address fluctuations in local demands over a three-year period.
  • $19.57 million for a 5 per cent increase to the tariff rates paid to private lawyers who provide legal services for low-income individuals in Ontario.
  • $780,000 to increase the articling student tariff rate to encourage more lawyers to offer articling opportunities and a new generation of lawyers to join firms or established practices that include a legal aid component.
  • $10.5 million additional investment in clinic law services to expand poverty law services, including funding for SALCO, new information management project, improve French language services, and increase operating budgets and front line clinic staff salaries.
  • $15 million for the Big Case Management program to ensure demand for coverage in complex and costly criminal trials does not compromise other services.
  • $100,000 for the development of the new client financial eligibility test.
  • $300,000 to exempt the Universal Child Care Benefit from the income of applicants for Legal Aid Ontario certificate services
  • $50,000 to Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) to expand the "Six Languages Text and Audio Project"
  • $50,000 in one-time project funding to support research and develop a justice strategy to improve the delivery of legal aid services for the Aboriginal community.
"The government's three year investment in legal aid is an investment in people and strong communities and provides LAO with the stability to make long-term strategic planning decisions to ensure low income Ontarians have access to legal services," says John McCamus.

Legal Aid Ontario is an independent government funded agency established to administer a cost-effective and efficient system of providing high quality legal services for low-income Ontarians. Legal aid services are provided throughout Ontario by a network of 51 area offices and 79 community and specialized legal clinics. As well, duty counsel services are available in every courthouse in Ontario including 31 remote fly in locations.

For more information contact:

Kristian Justesen
Manager of Communications and Public Affairs
Legal Aid Ontario
416 979-2352 ext 4782

For more info

For more information please refer to:
Ministry of the Attorney General: McGuinty Government Improves Legal Aid Services For Vulnerable Ontarians
(read more)

Backgrounder: Provincial Government invests $51 million to improve Access to Justice for low-income Ontarians
(read more)