Update on Legal Aid Ontario’s delivery of refugee services
Posted on: Friday, May 17, 2013
Since the Dec. 15, 2012 implementation of new federal legislation on the refugee determination system, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has seen a 50 to 60 per cent drop in applications for certificates, a stable approval rate for certificates, and an increase in calls to its call centre. LAO has added 64 new pages of information for refugee claimants and lawyers onto its websites.
Fewer refugee claimants applying for legal aid certificates
As a result of the federal legislation which took effect on Dec. 15, 2012, the number of refugee certificate applications that LAO has received decreased by 50 to 60 per cent during the first quarter of 2013.
LAO refugee applications
Stable approval rate
LAO’s approval rate for refugee certificates has been 94 to 98 per cent since April 2011, and 94 per cent of refugee applications taken since December 15, 2012 have resulted in the issuance of a certificate.
Fewer legal aid applications, more calls to LAO’s call centre
Between October and December 2012, LAO’s toll-free telephone service staff processed 2,386 applications for legal aid related to refugee and immigration matters from 128 different countries. Between January and March 2013, staff processed 38 per cent fewer applications – 1,457 – from 123 countries.
Between October and December 2012, LAO’s toll-free telephone service staff answered 368 calls related to refugee and immigration matters. Between January and March 2013, staff answered 642 calls – 75 per cent more than in the last three months of 2012. All of these calls were referred to other professionals within LAO for further assistance.
More legal information on LAO’s websites
LAO added 54 pages of information on refugee law in Ontario to its LawFacts.ca public legal education website, and continues to add more. Most of these pages explain the new legislative changes and their potential effect on refugee claimants. They include an overview of legal expectations and requirements and explanations on how to complete a Basis of Claim form and the refugee claim timelines.
In addition, LAO’s website for the public now includes 12 pages of information on refugee matters to help lawyers. These pages were viewed more than 3,100 times between Dec. 15, 2013 and May 3, 2013.
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