More Low-Income Ontarians Can Access Legal Services

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More low-income Ontarians will be able to obtain legal services.

Community legal clinics and student legal aid services societies throughout the province will receive an additional $7.3 million in funding in 2018-2019, the province announced on April 3.

“Community legal clinics and student legal aid services societies are at the front lines of offering legal services to the most vulnerable people in Ontario,” said Attorney General Yasir Naqvi.

“Our government is committed to working with Legal Aid Ontario to increase access to justice by ensuring more low-income Ontarians are able to have legal representation.”

Legal Aid Ontario funds 73 community legal clinics throughout the province. These clinics are independently operated and offer legal advice and representation to low-income community members.

“Legal clinics in Ontario serve people and communities with a wide range of needs,” said Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario executive director Lenny Abramowicz.

“The legal clinics welcome today’s announcement of increased investment from the provincial government as it will enable clinics to expand the services we provide to meet the legal needs of Ontario’s most vulnerable communities and individuals.”

Student legal aid services societies are also funded by Legal Aid Ontario and operate out of Ontario’s seven law schools to provide a variety of legal services to local communities.

Since 2014, the province has given Legal Aid Ontario additional funding to raise the minimum income needed to qualify for legal aid services--an overall increase of 34 per cent in the past four years. At the same time, funding for legal clinics and student legal aid services societies has increased by 24 per cent since 2014.

This most recent investment of funds will enable community legal clinics and student legal aid services societies to expand services in communities with the lowest funding per low-income population, and increase access to poverty law services in as many communities as possible in every region of Ontario.

In addition, they can expand services in communities, including client representation and advice, community development, outreach, law reform, systemic advocacy and public legal education, expand services to particularly vulnerable clients groups, and invest in family law service programs in many student legal aid services societies in Ontario.

“Legal Aid Ontario is committed to supporting our legal clinics and student legal aid services societies, which provide a comprehensive range of services to those most in need in Ontario,” said Legal Aid Ontario chairperson John McCamus.

“We are grateful to the province of Ontario for their continued commitment to supporting legal aid services to Ontario’s most marginalized people.”

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