New Legal Aid Services Act, 2020 receives royal assent
Published: July 16, 2020
The new Legal Aid Services Act, 2020, part of Bill 161, the Smarter and Stronger Justice Act, 2020, has been passed by the Ontario legislature.
The new act establishes a new framework for Legal Aid Ontario to provide legal aid services to low‑income Ontarians. At the same time, the organization will continue as an independent corporation, accountable to the government and people of Ontario. The new legislation will allow Legal Aid Ontario to eliminate red tape and give it the flexibility to replace outdated systems and processes.
“The new Legal Aid Services Act is an important framework for modernizing the legal aid system in Ontario. The new act will enable Legal Aid Ontario to work with legal aid service providers to develop and adapt services and policies more quickly so that we can better serve clients,” says Charles Harnick, Legal Aid Ontario’s chair.
“Our core mandate continues to be to serve low‑income Ontarians. We will still provide poverty law and other services in criminal law, family law and refugee law to low‑income Ontarians. Nothing is changing in terms of who we serve and why we do what we do. Nothing ever will change that.”
With the legislation passed, Legal Aid Ontario will now begin working towards implementation, in consultation with the private bar, clinics, other service providers, stakeholders, and the Ministry of the Attorney General. The legislation will come into force at a later date once this work has been completed.
“We have a great deal of work to do over the next year to ensure this new legislation best serves our clients,” says Harnick. “We are looking forward to working with our staff and all our partners and service providers, particularly clinics, Student Legal Aid Services Societies and the private bar. Our goal is ultimately the same: to continue to provide the best legal assistance to the most vulnerable in Ontario.”
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