LAO to consult on development of a domestic violence strategy

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Starting this summer and into the fall, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) will meet with domestic violence survivors, partners in the Violence against Women (VAW) community and other legal or community service providers to begin developing a strategy to expand and improve legal aid services for domestic violence clients.

"This consultation will provide a forum for the community to contribute to LAO’s ongoing commitment to increasing access to justice for people who are experiencing domestic violence.”

— John McCamus, Chair of LAO

"This consultation will provide a forum for the community to contribute to LAO’s ongoing commitment to increasing access to justice for people who are experiencing domestic violence,” says John McCamus, Chair of LAO.

LAO has always placed a high priority in family law matters for domestic violence clients. However, the legal needs of these clients often go beyond family law.

“When someone is experiencing domestic abuse, they may have several different legal needs,” explains Michelle Squires, who is leading the development of the strategy. “The person could be in family court, but could also have legal issues related to their immigration or refugee status, or be facing criminal charges after attempting to defend themselves against their abuser. Developing a domestic violence strategy will ensure LAO’s services and programs reflect these needs and address the individual and unique experiences of clients experiencing domestic abuse.”

Consultations to begin this summer

The paper, Development of a Domestic Violence Strategy, provides a starting point for discussion at consultation sessions.

The consultations will examine issues including:

  • What are the most serious unmet legal needs of clients experiencing domestic violence?
  • How can access to services be improved?
  • How to better coordinate legal, community and social services?

Pamela Cross, a lawyer who has worked as an educator and trainer on the topic of violence against women and the law, says that women who experience violence in their intimate relationships have many and often intersecting legal needs.

“They require specialized legal support and services provided by people who understand the issues they are dealing with,” she says. “Over the past year, we have seen a number of exciting initiatives by LAO to address these needs. The paper is another important step in the process. We are looking forward to a vibrant collaboration between the community and LAO through the consultation process and as LAO continues to expand its services for clients who have experienced domestic violence.”

Dr. Peter Jaffe, the Academic Director of the Centre for Research & Education on Violence against Women & Children, adds, “Many litigants in criminal and family court struggle with the effects of domestic violence. This Legal Aid Ontario consultation paper launches a critical conversation about how to best serve this vulnerable population. This conversation will enhance collaboration between community and justice partners.”

The public is invited to make written submissions about LAO’s Domestic Violence Strategy. Consultation session dates and locations will be announced later this summer. If you’re interested in attending a session, please email us at



For questions about the Domestic Violence Strategy

Michelle Squires
Policy Counsel
Phone: 416-979-2352 ext. 4150

For communication requests

Josephine Li
Communications Advisor
Tel: 416-979-2352 ext. 6015