LAO Newsroom




New Financial Eligibility Guidelines for Legal Aid

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


As of April 1st, 2015, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) will implement the second (of three) six per cent financial eligibility increases for all legal aid services. LAO implemented its first six per cent increase on Nov. 1, 2014. These increases apply to all legal aid services

Certificate Program

The certificate program provides eligible, low income Ontarians publicly funded legal representation. A certificate is a voucher guaranteeing that the lawyer will get paid for representing the legal aid client for a certain number of hours. Certificates are only for the most serious legal matters, which may include:

  • Criminal charges where a jail sentence is likely
  • Serious family problems such as child protection issues
  • Immigration and refugee matters

The financial threshold for a single applicant without dependents is rising from the current $11,448 in gross annual income to $12,135 in gross annual income. The threshold is scheduled to rise again, to $12,863 in gross annual income, starting April 1, 2016.

Family size Annual gross income
Nov. 1, 2014 April 1, 2015 April 1, 2016
1 $11,448 $12,135 $12,863
2 $19,805 $20,993 $22,253
3 $22,577 $23,932 $25,367
4 $25,511 $27,042 $28,664
5+ $28,317 $30,016 $31,817

Duty counsel services

The duty counsel program provides legal services in criminal, family law and child protection court cases to low-income Ontarians who do not have a lawyer. These services include:

  • Giving advice about legal rights, obligations and the court process
  • Providing assistance in the courtroom for bail hearings and sentencing
  • Assist with diversion, guilty pleas and adjournments
  • Review or prepare court documents to be filed

For this program, the financial threshold for a single applicant without dependents is rising from the current $19,080 in gross annual income to $20,225 in gross annual income. The threshold is scheduled to rise again, to $21,438 in gross annual income, starting April 1, 2016.

Family size Annual gross income
Nov. 1, 2014 April 1, 2015 April 1, 2016
1 $19,080 $20,225 $21,438
2 $28,620 $30,337 $32,131
3 $32,860 $34,832 $36,921
4 $39,220 $41,573 $44,068
5+ $45,580 $48,315 $50,803

Clinic services

Legal Aid Ontario also funds 76 community clinics and six Student Legal Aid Services Societies located throughout the province. These organizations employ lawyers, legal workers, paralegals and administrative staff to provide information, legal advice and representation.

Their financial eligibility guidelines are also increasing by six per cent. Community legal clinics have some discretion in applying these guidelines. Guidelines in the case of a one-adult family:

Family size Annual gross income
Nov. 1, 2014 April 1, 2015 April 1, 2016
1 $16,748 $17,753 $18,818
2 $19,398 $20,562 $21,796
3 $22,684 $24,045 $25,488
4 $24,539 $26,011 $27,572
5 $27,083 $28,708 $30,430
6 $29,044 $30,787 $32,634

Questions

Feroneh Neil
Communications Manager
Phone: (416) 979-2352, ext. 5103
Email: neilfer@lao.on.ca and/or media@lao.on.ca

Christine Burke
Minister's Office
Ministry of the Attorney General
Phone: (416) 326-3266

Brandon Crawley
Communications Branch
Ministry of the Attorney General
Phone: (416) 326-2210