LAO update: winter 2022 edition

Published: September 29, 2022

A quarterly update on Legal Aid Ontario’s latest access to justice initiatives

Message from the CEO

With another year of living through the COVID-19 crisis behind us, we begin 2022 with the return of some of our pre-pandemic eligibility rules and the start of a “new normal”.

Although we are still figuring out what our “new normal” is, we are continuing to provide supports and new online services for lawyers and clients during this time. For example, lawyers continue to be able to submit applications on behalf of their clients, and individuals seeking legal aid can apply online through the LAO client portal if they meet the eligibility criteria.

We are also developing a new roster member resources section on our website that will make it easier for lawyers to stay up-to-date on important news, and access resources.

Finally, the start of 2022 brings an addition to our executive team. I am pleased to announce that Jennifer Ankrett will be joining LAO as Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer, starting March 14. Jennifer most recently served as Executive Director, Strategy & Administration with York University. I am delighted to have her joining the organization, and I look forward to her leadership contributions.

Read on to see what happened at LAO between October and December 2021 in the Updates section.


LASA 2020 has been proclaimed

The Legal Aid Services Act, 2020 (LASA, 2020) has now been proclaimed. The new act allows Legal Aid Ontario to modernize legal aid services, and how these services are delivered. We have implemented new Rules and Policies.

In 2021, LAO received feedback on the draft Rules from more than 200 individuals and organizations. We will continue to encourage input from stakeholders and partners in the justice system on future initiatives through our consultation registry.

Dr. Beverly Jacobs appointed to review LAO’s structure

Legal Aid Ontario has appointed Dr. Beverly Jacobs, Associate Dean at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law and award-winning scholar, to lead a review of its organizational structure to better serve Indigenous clients.

The appointment is part of LAO’s commitment to work with Indigenous communities and all levels of government to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, particularly those related to the justice system.

“I believe in transformational change and that LAO is committed and willing to do what is right for Indigenous peoples in Ontario.” Dr. Jacobs said. The review is underway, and her findings and recommendations will be made public.

LAO covering cases adjourned to JICMC

Legal Aid Ontario is covering the cost of a lawyer for accused people whose matters are more than twelve months old and are without counsel in the Judge-Led Intensive Case Management Court (JICMC). The JICMC initiative was set up to address the large backlog of cases resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clients do not need to contact LAO; their lawyer will initiate and complete the application on their behalf. No financial testing applies to this new certificate.

Consultations on proposed minimum standards

In December, Legal Aid Ontario launched consultations to invite feedback on the proposed minimum experience standards that prospective roster members must meet to be eligible to provide legal aid certificate and duty counsel services. To receive email alerts about upcoming consultations, subscribe to the consultation registry.