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Access to Justice Blog

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

Issue of the Month
The Charter and Legal Aid Ontario’s Proposed Refugee Law Cuts
Sean Rehaag
Jun 07, 2017

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has announced plans for substantial cuts to its immigration and refugee law services. Other legal aid programs across Canada are no doubt watching this closely, and may be considering similar measures. The proposed cuts, however, may be unconstitutional.

Proposed 40% cuts to Refugee Law Services

Currently, refugee claimants in Ontario who meet the test for financial eligibility can obtain legal aid certificates for assistance in putting together their claim, including drafting Basis of Claim narratives (the key document used in refugee determinations). Most financially eligible refugee claimants also receive legal aid certificates for representation at their refugee hearings, with only a small number refused representation due to merit screening. In addition, LAO funds some other types of representation, including appeals to the Refugee Appeal Division, judicial review of certain immigration and refugee matters in Federal Court, Pre-Removal Risk assessments, Humanitarian and Compassionate applications for Permanent Residence, and immigration detention... Read More

Andrew Pilliar
Apr 25, 2017

A number of reports published in recent years have highlighted the lack of research on access to justice in Canada and have called for more. In a Canadian Forum on Civil Justice column published on, Andrew Pilliar discusses the state of access to justice research in Canada and offers insight into how much access to justice research is being funded in Canada.  Read “The Cost of Justice (Research)” here.

Trevor Farrow et al
Apr 18, 2017

Le forum canadien sur la justice civile est très heureux d’annoncer que << Les problèmes juridiques de la vie quotidienne et le coût de la justice au
Canada : rapport général >> est présentement disponible en français. Ce rapport général fait partie du projet sur les coûts de la justice (2011-2018) qui examine les coûts sociaux et économiques du système de justice canadien.

Les problèmes juridiques de la vie quotidienne et le coût de la justice au Canada : rapport général est disponsible sur notre site web ici.

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