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Details on Legal Aid Ontario’s financial eligibility guidelines

Friday, March 31, 2017

On April 1, 2017, Legal Aid Ontario is raising the eligibility threshold for all legal aid services another six per cent. LAO implemented the first of multiple six per cent increases on Nov. 1, 2014.

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 $12,863 in gross annual income to $13,635 in gross annual income.

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
  • assisting with diversion, guilty pleas and adjournments
  • reviewing or prepare court documents to be filed

For this program, the financial threshold for a single applicant without dependents is rising from the current $21,438 in gross annual income to $22,720 in gross annual income.

Financial eligibility for Legal Aid Ontario services, April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018

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 for 2017 in the case of a one-adult family:

Family size Annual gross income
1 $19,947
2 $23,103
3 $27,017
4 $29,226
5 $32,256
6 $34,592