Thursday, February 3, 2011

Do you qualify for Ontario Legal Aid Assistance?

I received an email from Ontario Legal Aid setting the eligibility of people applying for Legal Assistance.  If you are curious whether or not you would be eligible for a certificate Legal Aid please read the following:

Dear Panel Member,

On February 1, 2011, Legal Aid Ontario is implementing a new simplified eligibility test for legal aid certificates. Unlike the current needs-based test, the simplified test is based on client income and requires less documentation, which makes it easier for clients to apply for certificates over the phone or in a courthouse.

LAO has been piloting the simplified test in selected locations over the past year, and the pilots have shown that the new test provides a range of benefits to clients, staff and stakeholders. It is a transparent test that is easy to apply and understand, and provides eligible clients with faster and more consistent decisions, enabling them to move forward with their legal matter more quickly.

The new simplified test provides flexibility for vulnerable clients, particularly those with mental health issues or those experiencing domestic violence. Clients receiving social assistance benefits will continue to qualify for a certificate as they did under the previous test. The streamlined financial test for duty counsel services and telephone summary legal advice will remain the same.

We expect that this will mean that applications will be processed more quickly and that duty counsel and staff will be able to easily determine if someone qualifies for a certificate.

The financial eligibility test for duty counsel has not changed.

LAO is in the process of making the public aware of the simplified test criteria and recognizes the importance of informed panel lawyers in this process.  Attached is a document that can be used as a reference when meeting with potential clients. Cards with this information will be available through your local Legal Aid District Office. Similar materials have been made available to the Judiciary, duty counsel, MPPs and LAO offices.  The simplified eligibility criteria will appear as follows:

Financial Eligibility for a Legal Aid Certificate


Should you wish to discuss these issues any further, please view our website at

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