Legal Aid Ontario transforming services in Sarnia, Chatham and Windsor
Posted on: Monday, January 18, 2010
“Legal Aid Ontario is pleased to be able to offer families in Sarnia-Lambton and Chatham-Kent another option for resolving their legal matters. We look forward to working with our community partners to improve legal aid services, and access to justice.”
» Mary-Anne Stevens, District Area Director, Windsor District
“Legal Aid Ontario is committed to the use of innovation and technology to improve client services, focus resources more efficiently and support justice system reforms.”
» Bob Ward, President and CEO, Legal Aid Ontario
Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is transforming the way it delivers services to the communities in Sarnia-Lambton, Chatham-Kent and Windsor-Essex. In keeping with our mandate to provide high quality and cost-efficient legal aid services, LAO is making greater use of technology, streamlining administration and increasing frontline client services to make legal aid help and information more easily available to low-income Ontarians.
New legal aid service options
Ontarians can now access legal aid services through LAO’s toll-free number, and get up-to-date information on LAO’s newly improved website (www.legalaid.on.ca). Dialing 1-800-668-8258, a free call from any phone, connects clients to a full range of legal aid services information, including financial assessments, legal aid applications and summary legal advice for eligible clients. Help is available in 120 languages through the use of instant translation services. Offering legal aid assistance over the phone helps clients overcome barriers to accessing services such as language fluency, lack of transportation, and travel costs, which can result in delays and cancelled appointments. Clients simply press 0 after dialing the toll-free number to be immediately connected to a legal aid staff person who can assist them.
LAO expands family law services in Sarnia and Chatham to meet growing demand
With Legal Aid Ontario clients facing a three or four month wait to see a family lawyer, LAO has created two new Family Law Service Centres to meet the growing demand for child and family legal services in Sarnia-Lambton and Chatham-Kent. The Family Law Service Centres are staffed by a lawyer and an assistant, who focus on representing eligible legal aid clients on complex cases. The Sarnia Family Law Service Centre is already open, and the Chatham Centre will open in February. Both centres are located in the current legal aid offices.
LAO in the courthouse
In addition, courthouse-based offices in Chatham (now open) and Sarnia (opening end of March 2010) will provide clients with a convenient, in-person legal aid access point. The new family law centres and courthouse services are part of a transformation of legal aid services in Sarnia, Chatham and Windsor, and across the province, which provide clients with services when and where they need them. Client service and access points will be expanded through innovation and a greater use of technology. Duty counsel services, available to assist eligible clients in court, will also receive additional support in the coming months as LAO looks to invest in direct legal aid services.
Improving LAO Management
A newly implemented ‘district model’ will improve the coordination and oversight of legal aid services in the Windsor District. Sarnia-Lambton, Chatham-Kent and Windsor-Essex are now part of the Windsor District, within the Southwest Region.