Legal Aid Ontario transforms services with new family law centre
Posted on: Tuesday, January 19, 2010
“LAO is working with our partners in the Greater Toronto Region to ensure that the needs of low-income Ontarians continue to come first.”
» Vicki Moretti, Acting Vice President, GTA Region
“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
In keeping with our mandate to provide high quality and cost-efficient legal aid services, LAO is using technology and innovation to streamline administration and increase front line client services to make legal aid help and information more easily available low-income Ontarians.
New legal aid service options
LAO is also improving criminal and immigration services to meet the needs of the North York community. Clients can now access a full range of legal aid services and information in 120 different languages through LAO’s toll-free number (1-800-668-8258 and press 0).
Delivering a full range of legal aid services over the phone is a faster, more convenient access point, and the multi-lingual feature is well suited to a diverse community with many new immigrants. LAO’s website provides a 24-hour point of contact making legal information more accessible to clients and lawyers.
Family Law Service Centre
As part of this transformation, Legal Aid Ontario is converting the North York Area Office to a Family Law Centre to better serve the needs of the community. It will be located at 45 Sheppard Avenue East and offer a total family law service steps from the largest Ontario Court of Justice family court – 47 Sheppard Avenue East -- in the province.
The South Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO) will be relocating to 45 Sheppard Avenue East by April 1, 2010, and will be located next to the North York FLSC, working independently but adding to the synergy of LAO’s one-stop resource for clients seeking information, support and legal services in the hub for all family law court matters in the Greater Toronto region -- North York, Scarborough, Etobicoke and Toronto.
Legal Aid Ontario’s new approach improves coordination and accountability of legal aid services. The centre will triage clients so they get the right service at the right time, streamlining and simplify the process for clients such as victims of domestic violence whose cases must go to court.
The centre will also focus on integrating education, information, support, early intervention and alternative dispute resolutions (such as mediation) to encourage parties to resolve disputes earlier in the process, and possibly avoid court hearings wherever appropriate. This will allow vulnerable clients to function as effectively as possible after separation.
LAO in the Courthouse
As well, LAO will have an increased presence in the North York criminal court (1000 Finch Avenue West), to provide greater access to information and legal assistance to our clients with criminal, immigration and civil law matters.