LAO increases hours available for child protection cases
Monday, October 20, 2014
Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) will increase the hours available for cases with parents facing child protection proceedings, to better reflect the time and steps required to prepare for Crown and society wardship matters.
“I applaud the work Legal Aid Ontario is doing to strengthen the family law services it provides. Improving the delivery and scope of family law services is a vital step toward building a more holistic family justice system in Ontario.”
Beginning Nov. 3, 2014, LAO is funding an increase in hours for family lawyers to work on:
- society and Crown wardship certificates (45 hours)
- status reviews (10 hours uncontested & 25 hours contested)
- actual attendance time on temporary care and custody motions
- six hours preparation for subsequent trial days
Based on an analysis of lawyers billing patterns, LAO estimates that 90 per cent of the hours lawyers would have previously applied for through discretion payments, will now be covered under the new enhanced tariff.
The tariff will better reflect the time necessary for lawyers to:
- prepare for and provide necessary services to clients in child protection proceedings
- attend at temporary care and custody motions
- prepare for and conduct status reviews
- prepare for trial
The Family Lawyers Association (FLA) advocated for an increase in the tariff to ensure greater accountability for work billed and ensure all appropriate steps are taken in child protection cases. LAO will continue to review other recommendations proposed by the FLA.
The child protection tariff enhancement is one of a number of programs that LAO is developing with the use of $30 million in additional provincial funding that specifically highlights family law and community legal clinics.
“Parents who have had their children taken away are among the most vulnerable clients who appear at family court,” says John McCamus, Chair of LAO. “With funding from the $30 million provincial investment, LAO is pleased to expand services for one of LAO’s highest priority client groups.”
“I applaud the work Legal Aid Ontario is doing to strengthen the family law services it provides,” said Madeleine Meilleur, Attorney General. “Improving the delivery and scope of family law services is a vital step toward building a more holistic family justice system in Ontario.”
LAO’s increased child protection tariff reflects changes LAO made for the criminal bar in 2010, which enhanced funding for large criminal cases.
Family law strategy
LAO’s family law strategy aims to reduce the number of unrepresented family litigants, provide an avenue for consensual dispute resolution, expand the early resolution service sector and provide holistic and integrated services.
Each year, LAO allocates approximately $70 million to help more than 125,000 low-income Ontarians through a wide range of family law services, including summary legal advice, mediation, assistance from lawyers at family law information centres and family law service centres, representation by private practice lawyers, and settlement conferences.
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