Getting legal help

Contribution agreements

In some cases you may be asked to repay Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) some or all of your legal fees, based on your income level. A contribution agreement outlines how much you will repay LAO.

How do contribution agreements work?

You must take a financial test to determine if you are eligible for Legal Aid Ontario’s certificate program. If you qualify for a certificate, you might be required to sign a contribution agreement, depending on your income level. If you agree to the contribution agreement, Legal Aid Ontario will give you a certificate that will help you retain a lawyer.

How much will I have to repay?

On April 1, 2015, LAO implemented the second of three annual six per cent financial eligibility increases for all the certificate and duty counsel services it provides, including the amount of income level that requires you to sign a contribution agreement.

The charts below provide guidelines for the income levels needed to qualify for services, effective April 1, 2015. Generally, if your income falls in the range outlined in the chart below, you will be asked to sign a contribution agreement. To see what your monthly payments will be, find your income level below and the contribution amount. Some exceptions do apply, and the legal aid staff person who takes your application will be able to give you more information.

Certificate services eligibility, effective April 1, 2015

Family Members Gross annual income
Gross annual income ranges Monthly contribution amount
1 $12,135 $12,135 to $14,045 $50 /month
2 $20,993 $20,993 to $25,281 $50 /month
3 $23,932 $23,932 to $29,461 $75 /month
4 $27,042 $27,042 to $33,843 $75 /month
5+ $30,016 $30,016 to $38,157 $115 /month
Single boarders
(paying and non-paying)
$7,978 $7,978 to $9,214 $50 /month

What if I don’t want a contribution agreement? What if I think the payments are too high?

You can only request a review of a contribution agreement for two reasons:

  • You are in debt
  • You have high medical expenses

To request a review, you must go through the appeals process.

How do I make payments to Legal Aid Ontario?

There are several ways for you to make payments to your contribution agreement:

At the bank:

  • Take your most recent client statement into any bank or credit union
  • Be sure to bring the bottom portion of the statement
  • Make your payment at the bank counter, by cash or cheque
  • Retain any receipts or verification of payment for your records
  • You do not need a bank account to make a payment, and this payment method is free for clients.

Pre-authorized payment plan:

If you have a bank account, you can enroll in the pre-authorized payment plan. This option allows you to have your payment automatically deducted from your bank account each month, on a pre-selected date. If you would like to enroll in this option, fill out the authorization agreement. Remember to attach a void cheque for the account you wish to use, and to sign the agreement.

Telephone banking, Internet banking, Instabank:

  • You can also pay through telephone and Internet banking, and Instabank (paying at an ATM/ABM), at most Canadian banks
  • To use one of these payment methods, you need to contact your bank to see if these options are available, and to register. Once registered, you:

    1. Need to choose “Legal Aid Ontario” as the payee
    2. Enter your client number as reference, and the amount you would like to pay.

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