Access to Justice gets LAO boost

Photo: Jason Spaceman

Photo: Jason Spaceman

The Ministry of the Attorney General today announced $30 million over three years to improve delivery of Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) frontline client services, through Family Law Service Centres and community and legal clinics across the province. The government says the investment will enhance fairness and improve access to justice for low-income families and vulnerable Ontarians.

In its first year, 70 per cent of the new funding will expand LAO’s reach, including Family Law Service Centres. The ministry says this will make it possible for more low-income families to access legal advice, duty counsel and mediation services. The goal is to increase the capacity of community and legal clinics to meet clients’ needs.

Legal Aid Ontario is an arms-length government agency which provides low-income Ontarians with access to a range of legal services tailored to meet their legal needs. Every day, LAO provides almost 4,000 assists to disadvantaged people, including victims of domestic violence, parents seeking custody, access or child support, injured workers, refugees, and accused persons.

LAO funds 77 non-profit community legal clinics throughout the province to provide information, legal advice, and representation to people who are eligible to receive services, and Family Law Service Centres offering a range of support for family matters. Funding for clinic law services has increased from $59.8 million to $73.9 million since 2009.

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4 comments

  1. Angela Browne · ·

    Absolutely, Ben! Homeowners need to keep their equity for other things. We are all so indebted as a society and all this liens on homes policy does is discourage some people from applying, thus leaving them unrepresented.

  2. 30 Million dollars over 3 years sustains affordable access to legal services slightly, and will probably be absorbed administratively; however, the Legal Clinics for Family Law is a fantastic idea and the one in Milton Courthouse is a great example. The ‘eligible to receive’ are benefitted but a home owner does not qualify for Legal Aid unless they have and will commit their equity to pay it back. So legal fees is still the problem for the average citizen and that’s where paralegals can help; or people will still go unrepresented because they don’t want to lose their houses during a divorce (and why should they?).

  3. Virginia Selemidis · ·

    Does this mean they will allow Paralegals to provide services throught LAO as well?

    1. Not yet, Virginia. Discussions have been ongoing, and paralegals sit on committees with LAO. SCOPE is keeping an eye on this. Look for an update, sooner than later, with any luck! Feel free to send any information you may have:

      elerever@outlook.com

      Thanks,

      Elizabeth

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