As of May, 2014, the total number of Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) services has increased, through the introduction of new delivery channels such as its toll-free telephone line, free summary legal advice over the telephone and at family law service centres, and free online legal information.
Since 2010, LAO’s toll-free line has increased its number of assists by 101 per cent. To meet this demand, LAO increased the number of staff providing direct client services (as a percentage of total LAO staff) by 156 per cent — from 23 per cent in 2009/10 to 59 per cent in the first quarter of 2013/14.
LAO has also added 52 new pages of information for refugee claimants and lawyers to its public legal information website, Lawfacts.ca The pages include an overview of legal expectations and requirements, and explanations on how to complete a Basis of Claim form and the refugee claim timelines. These pages were viewed more than 27,000 times between December 2012 and March 2014.
Legal aid offices
Legal aid representatives determine if a client’s situation warrants a legal aid certificate. Legal aid assessment officers evaluate each person’s financial circumstances and their type of legal problem to decide on eligibility.
To find a legal aid office near you go to: http://www.legalaid.on.ca/en/contact/contact.asp?type=ao
Community Legal Clinics
Legal Aid Ontario funds 77 community legal clinics throughout the province. Thirteen of these clinics provide specialty legal services. Each is a non-profit legal centre, governed by an independant board of directors representative of the community it serves. Clinics employ lawyers, legal workers, paralegals and administrative staff to provide information, legal advice and representation.
To find a legal clinic near you go to: http://www.legalaid.on.ca/en/contact/contact.asp?type=cl
Legal Aid Ontario toll-free telephone line
Legal Aid Ontario’s (LAO) toll-free number connects low-income Ontarians to legal aid services, assistance and information.
Call 1-800-668-8258 toll-free (or 416-979-1446 in Toronto) to get legal aid help in over 200 languages.
Hours: Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Legal Aid Ontario services
If you have already applied for legal aid, or you are a current client, you can:
- get information about your application or appeal status
- find out if your lawyer has acknowledged your certificate
- change your address if you’ve moved
- update your personal information
A wide range of services are available through Legal Aid Ontario’s toll-free number. Dialing 1-800-668-8258 connects you to a client service representative who can assist with your legal aid matter. Services available over the phone include:
- information on the range of legal aid services available to eligible clients
- legal and financial eligibility criteria
- legal aid office locations
- phone numbers for agencies, shelters and community legal clinics
Summary Legal Advice
If you have a criminal or family law issue, you may be able to speak with a lawyer for up to 20 minutes of summary legal advice and information. When you call Legal Aid Ontario, the client service representative will determine if you are eligible for summary legal advice.
Applications for the certificate program
You can apply for Legal Aid Ontario’s certificate program over the phone. In order to be eligible for the certificate program, you must qualify financially, and your legal matter must be one that LAO covers.
Staff can refer eligible clients to one of Legal Aid Ontario’s many services, or other social service agencies, including:
- duty counsel
- community legal clinics
- Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) or Ontario Works
- Family Responsibilities Office
- Citizenship and Immigration Canada
- Ontario Labour Relations Board
- The Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC)