Call Legal Aid Ontario toll-free for help in 200+ languages – within a minute

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

No matter where you live in this province, you can call Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) toll-free and — generally within a minute — talk to an LAO employee in your language or via an interpreter. This service is available from LAO in over 200 languages, including 18 Aboriginal languages and dialects.

This fast interpretation service helps thousands of people annually — 400 to 500 people every month. Access to this service is confidential, and provides callers with impartial general legal information and referrals to other legal aid programs and services in their first language.

How LAO provides this service so quickly

In some cases, callers can be immediately transferred to a customer service representative on LAO’s staff to conduct their conversation. LAO’s toll-free telephone line employees include staff who can speak to callers in French, Dari/Afghani, Farsi/Persian, Turkish, Azerbaijanis, Arabic or Urdu.

Callers can tell LAO what language they speak, and can request a gender-specific interpreter – an important consideration if their matter is culturally sensitive or involves domestic violence.

The majority of people who speak other languages are briefly put on hold while the LAO representative contacts LAO’s outside supplier, Multilingual Community Interpreter Services (MCIS).

MCIS contacts an interpreter; then LAO sets up a conference call between the caller, the MCIS interpreter and the LAO representative. In most cases, the whole process takes a minute.

If the call has to be transferred to a different line of service, such as a financial eligibility assessment, the interpreter lets the client know before hanging up. The client is connected to another LAO representative, and the one-minute process begins again.

How the process works

Customer service representatives ask callers what language they are speaking. Callers then state their language or country of origin; some may need to ask a friend, family member or community worker to speak for them.

LAO also offers to provide either a female or a male interpreter— an important consideration if the matter is culturally sensitive or involves domestic violence.

How to contact LAO

Call LAO’s central toll-free telephone line, Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Callers who prefer not to wait on the phone to speak with someone can enter their number at the prompt, and the next available representative will call back. Legal Aid Ontario accepts collect calls.

Telephone: 1-800-668-8258 (or 416-979-1446 in Toronto)

TTY: 1-866-641-8867 (or 416-598-8867 in Toronto)

Fast facts

Calls received

Between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013, LAO’s toll-free telephone service helped 5,456 callers including:

  • Afrikaans and Armenian (one call each)
  • Hungarian (1,860 calls)
  • Spanish (978 calls)
  • Ukrainian (five calls)
  • Yoruba (three calls)


For questions or further information, please contact:

Kristian Justesen
Director, Communications and Stakeholder Relations Group
Phone: 416-979-2352, ext.4782
Email: and/or