COVID-19: Service, billing and other steps LAO’s taking to ensure your health and safety

Published: March 17, 2020

Working with justice partners, Legal Aid Ontario is taking steps to ensure the safety of our clients, staff and stakeholders in our effort against COVID‑19 (coronavirus), as well as the continuity of service. LAO is following advice provided by the Ministry of Health, Chief Medical Officer of Health and Public Health Officials, and is committed to keeping you informed of any new developments.

As of March 17, 2020:

Panel lawyer updates

  • Lawyers can continue to submit bills, which will continue to be processed.

  • LAO is temporarily reinstating the bail block fee for private bar lawyers, as we anticipate a large number of bail hearings being heard since they will be prioritized. This includes bail hearings, bail variations and 2nd bail hearings for s. 524 applications.

  • We ask lawyers and service providers to refrain from mailing original documents unless absolutely necessary, and instead do this electronically through Legal Aid Online. Exceptions may include cheques and other documentation. Please contact the Lawyer Service Centre should you require more information.

Client service and LAO staff updates

  • All LAO Refugee Law and Integrated Services Office client meetings and intake will be over the phone and in‑person meetings discontinued. Clients may contact our Client Legal Service Centre at 1‑800‑668‑8258 for more information.

  • Legal aid video applications will be suspended until April 6, 2020.

  • Staff whose jobs permit are working remotely until Friday April 3, 2020.

  • Anyone who has travelled outside of Canada should self‑isolate for a total of 14 days from the date of your arrival home. This means you need to stay at home and contact your local public health unit for further advice and monitoring.

Public health authorities continue to advise the public to use prevention measures to reduce the risk of transmission of a range of illnesses, including coronaviruses. Remember to:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water use an alcohol‑based hand sanitizer.

  • Sneeze and cough into your sleeve avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth avoid contact with people who are sick.

  • Stay home when you are ill.

These measures may seem simple, but they are powerful ways to protect you and others from getting sick.

For the latest information, the Ontario Ministry of Health has set up a webpage where you can learn more about the 2019 novel coronavirus and stay informed through daily updates.

With these precautions in place, be assured we are doing our utmost to continue delivering legal aid services to Ontarians.

We understand that these are difficult times and we want to let you know that we are committed to working with the bar as we move forward.

Thank you for your cooperation, and for all of the work that you do in serving clients.

For futher information

For further information on measures against COVID‑19 in Ontario:

For information on court, tribunal and other service changes:

  • Ontario Court of Justice (The Ontario Court of Justice is open for urgent, in-custody matters only. Urgent matters will continue to be heard during the emergency suspension as the courts play a fundamental role in our constitutional democracy. All trials are adjourned, unless ordered otherwise. Accused persons, witnesses and counsel involved in jury trials that are in progress will receive direction from the presiding judge. Refer to website for details.)

  • Ontario Superior Court of Justice (The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has suspended all regular operations, including criminal matters, effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020 until further notice.)

  • Consent and Capacity Board (Beginning March 20th, all CCB hearings will convene by teleconference, with some limited videoconferencing. The Board may elect to prioritize certain matters, and will advise parties to hearings of their new protocols in the Notice of Hearing.)

  • Immigration and Refugee Board (Effective Tuesday March 17, 2020, all in‑person hearings and mediations, other than detention reviews, will be postponed until further notice.)

  • Small claims court sittings are cancelled until further notice.