Responses to recent media enquiries
Response to questions about certificates issued
February 4, 2011
LAO provided information to the Toronto Star in response to an enquiry received February 4, 2011
Over the last three years, we have seen a reduction in the number of client applications. This coincides with the development of other means of providing legal assistance to our clients. At the same time, for applications for the certificate program, the LAO certificate acceptance rate has been increasing. This year alone the certificate acceptance rate has increased by nearly 10 percent over last year to 87 percent acceptance of all certificate applications.
There has been no change to LAO’s eligibility criteria for legal aid services.
LAO is analysing a number of factors that may be contributing to the declining application rate including:
A more consistent application of our eligibility criteria to help ensure only eligible clients receives a certificate and that eligible clients are getting the right service at the right time.
Duty Counsel Lawyers in the courts are taking a more active role in helping clients to resolve their matter sooner. Some examples are:
Type of Duty Counsel Assist (YTD August)
Percent Change 08/09 - 10/11
Withdrawal of All Charges
Diversion/Extra Judicial Sanctions
Changes to LAO policies about civil opinion certificates, for matters not traditionally covered by Legal Aid Ontario. Most of these certificates never proceeded beyond the opinion letter stage because they lacked merit. (There is no change to O’Connor/Mills applications and Test cases (as approved by the LAO Group Applications and Test Cases Committee.)
LAO understands helping our clients means making it faster and easier for clients to get the legal assistance they need. Over the last couple of years, through LAO’s modernization processes, we have expanded client access to legal aid services. Unlike our previous area office model, clients can now access a variety of legal aid services, including summary legal advice, referrals, and certificate applications toll-free over the phone through our call centre, in person at one of 51 LAO courthouse offices, or through our 9 district offices.
In 2009-10, LAO issued 109,310 certificates. For 2010-11 LAO planned to issue 102,000 certificates. So far this year, for the reasons outlined above, we are tracking towards issuing 96,000 certificates, a difference of 5.9 percent from the number of certificates planned for 2010-11.