Legal Aid Ontario Responds to Parry Sound Beacon Star Article

Posted on: Friday, December 11, 2009

Jack Tynan, Editor
Parry Sound Beacon Star

Dear Mr. Tynan,

We would like to request a correction be printed by your publication and online news service regarding the article posted Dec. 11, 2009 on under the headline “Local legal aid calls redirected.”

Legal Aid Ontario made the District Area Director for the Central District available to answer questions from a Beacon Star reporter. We received those questions late Wednesday. Our District Area Director answered the questions in detail in a reply email. Unfortunately, none of the information supplied appears in the article, which misinforms our clients and your readers about LAO’s current services and future intentions.

Legal Aid Ontario’s response made it clear the organization intends to maintain staff in Parry Sound now and in the future. LAO’s client service centre, available through the toll-free number, and enhanced online services expand client access points, not create gaps, as will the plans we have to place staff in the courthouse in the near future. These initiatives also support the province’s Justice on Target initiative.

Our District Area Director’s response also makes it clear callers can reach the Legal Aid Ontario client service centre toll-free, meaning they can call without charge from any phone, even a pay phone, no coins required. To suggest they have to call “long distance” is false. It is true some clients can’t afford a phone or computer – neither can they afford transit costs or cars to get to the area office. The toll-free access serves the needs of clients in all these circumstances.

Many of the article’s misleading assertions are contained within quotations from other people who were interviewed. Our District Area Director is not given an opportunity to convey any of the information she tried to communicate to your readers by answering the reporter’s questions.

Kristian Justesen
Legal Aid Ontario
Manager of Communications and Public Affairs

Suggested Correction

On Dec. 11 the Beacon Star published information about Legal Aid Ontario’s services that was incorrect.

LAO intends to maintain staff in Parry Sound now and in the future, although it may move from its current location to the courthouse in the future Parry Sound is not losing any LAO services. LAO’s toll-free Client Service Centre, enhanced online services and increased presence in the courthouse are intended to expand client access to LAO services. The Client Service Centre can be reached at no charge (toll free) by calling 1-800-668-8258 or by email at (in French or English) Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.