Funding for Legal Aid Ontario
Legal Aid Ontario was created in 1998 under the Legal Aid Services Act. Its mandate is to ensure that a range of legal services is available to low-income people who meet financial eligibility requirements. Some clients obtain legal aid certificates entitling them to the services of a private lawyer. Others may be eligible for services from an independent community legal clinic that Legal Aid Ontario funds.
The Law Foundation of Ontario is required by law to pay 75% of net income earned from lawyer and paralegal mixed trust accounts directly to Legal Aid Ontario. The net income is calculated by deducting operating expenses. Legal Aid Ontario decides how it will use this funding.
The amount that the Foundation transfers to Legal Aid Ontario varies each year, mostly due to changing interest rates. Since the Foundation began in 1974, it has transferred over $727 million to Legal Aid Ontario.
The Foundation also supports Legal Aid Ontario in other ways:
- Community legal clinics have received a variety of grants for innovative projects.
- The clinics and Legal Aid Ontario have received Connecting Articling Fellowships.
- LAO has received supplementary grants, including a grant to develop case management technology for community legal clinics.
- One general service clinic (South Ottawa Community Legal Services) and one specialty clinic (Community Legal Education Ontario) play leadership roles in the Connecting Project.