Better appeals process means faster services for LAO clients
Posted on: Thursday, August 18, 2011
Legal Aid Ontaro (LAO) has refined its appeals process by improving how area committees review client appeals.
Clients can appeal legal decisions about certificate eligibility at the nearest legal aid location or over the phone. Under this process, area committee members are now remunerated for reviewing decisions instead of volunteering. Members no longer discuss cases in person, but by teleconference, with all necessary documents available on a secure website. As consideration times have been accelerated, area committee members are able to provide responses to applicants within three working days of receiving the appeal. Previously, clients had to wait several weeks before being able to proceed with their legal matters.
The process has reduced the required response time to client appeals from an average of 15 days to three – an 80 per cent reduction. Since implementing the new process, area committee members have convened 250 meetings and provided decisions on nearly 1, 300 appeals between January and March 2011. Although only 17 per cent of appeals are about financial eligibility, LAO anticipates its new simpler financial eligibility test will reduce this number even further.
Changing how area committees hear appeals is one way LAO has taken steps to provide better services to low-income Ontarians, while being accountable for public funds. By providing a faster and more robust area committee process, clients can spend less time waiting and more time moving forward with their legal matters.
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