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Access to Justice Blog

Analysis and opinions from the leading voices in access to justice research.

Ab Currie, PhD
Apr 11, 2017

The Legal Health Check-up Project which involved 12 community legal clinics in Southwestern Ontario and 125 partnerships with community organizations and service agencies, was developed as a way to provide information and assistance related to everyday legal problems to disadvantaged people. "Engaging the Power of Community to Expand Legal Services for Low‐Income Ontarians", the complete report on the Legal Health Check-Up Project was prepared by CFCJ Senior Research Fellow, Dr. Ab Currie, in his capacity as Research Consultant to the Legal Health Check-­up Project and details the development, adoption and expansion of the Legal Health Check-Up Project. "Engaging the Power of Community to Expand Legal Services for Low‐Income Ontarians" is available in full here.

Jennifer Leitch, PhD
Apr 11, 2017

In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of individuals who address a legal issue without the assistance of legal representation.  Statistical data generated by the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ) indicates that approximately 11.4 million people in Canada will experience at least one everyday legal problem in a given three-year period.[1]  It is further reported that approximately “50% of people try to resolve their problems on their own with no or minimal legal or authoritative non-legal assistance.”[2]  In statistical terms, another recent report reveals that approximately 40% of civil law litigants represent themselves, and this percentage increases dramatically in certain legal fields, such as family law, where as high as 60-70% of litigants in certain family courts are self-represented.[3]  Moreover, as retainers run out, legal matters are unresolved and clients are unable to pay their mounting legal bills, the percentage of self-represented litigants is likely to increase.... Read More

Quin Gilbert-Walters
Apr 11, 2017

There is a new socially innovative initiative, known as Social Impact Bonds (SIBs), whereby the private sector shares in the risk and reward associated with the outcome of social programs. With funding being a challenge for many not-for-profits and stakeholders working to improve access to justice across Canada, SIBs may provide a way forward for many in this area.

SIBs are a “pay-for-success” contract in which the government contracts with a private actor to create a program. The government is only required to pay if the program meets a threshold target. Often, there will be a range of targets with a corresponding payout depending on the level of success. In 2015, the Ontario government committed to piloting SIBs as part of its poverty reduction strategy.

SIBs were first developed in 2014 in Saskatchewan with a program to support at-risk single mothers. The program, a five-year arrangement, was a collaboration between a credit union and a youth centre... Read More

Issue of the Month
Jennifer Leitch, PhD
Dec 12, 2016

An increasing amount of research and data point to the value of using both legal and non-legal services to address civil justice problems. For members of society who experience social exclusion, the ability to jointly access these resources bears additional significance. Canadian Forum on Civil Justice Senior Research Fellow, Dr. Jennifer Leitch discusses the merits of a multidisciplinary approach to access to justice, and the Cost of Justice research study that she has begun on this theme, in a paper that is published on the CFCJ website here.

Dr. Leitch explains that the goal of this study is ultimately to explore what services, information or support might help people to address the broader scope of challenges they face related to their legal problems and, what benefits might be attributed to the provision of a broader scope of services that offers an expanded concept of access... Read More

Lucas Gindin, Lisa Moore
Dec 12, 2016

Much of the work that is being done to improve access to justice for Canadians comes down to access to justice advocates. As a part of our efforts to highlight the diverse range of individuals working across the access to justice arena, the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice was thrilled to recently speak with Sarah McCoubrey for our Access to Justice Advocates series.

Sarah McCoubrey, a lawyer and a founding partner at Calibrate Solutions, is well-known in the access to justice community. She has been integral to several provincial and national campaigns that have sought to disseminate information, research and resources pertaining to a number of access to justice issues. We recently sat down with Sarah for our Access to Justice Advocate series to talk about her work, shifts in the access to justice landscape and what needs to be done to improve the accessibility of our civil justice system. The interview with Sarah was... Read More