Legal Aid Ontario Eligibility under the new LASA, 2020 Rules

Last year, Ontario passed the Legal Aid Services Act, 2020 (LASA, 2020).1 In October, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) circulated the new rules implementing LASA, 2020.2

In order to receive LAO services, clients must:

  • You must tell LAO if your situation, or that of your spouse or guardian, changes. Clients must abide by the continuing obligation to provide information, either by directly informing LAO of any changes to their financial situation, and/or by providing LAO with permission to directly consult other agencies (such as social services).3
  • You must cooperate with LAO’s re-assessment of your financial eligibility on request.4
  • You must have a limited income and limited assets to receive legal aid. For certificate services, the threshold for single persons is $12,330 for single borders, or $18,795 for single persons otherwise; it goes up with larger families to a maximum of $50,803 for a family of five (or more).5 A client may only have $1,504 in liquid assets if a single person, or up to $3,007 for a household of 3 or more persons.5
  • You may be required to enter into a contribution agreement with LAO. This can happed under various circumstances, including simply that LAO “is satisfied that the individual … is able to contribute to the cost of providing legal aid services to the individual”.6

Notably, the income threshold for a single person is lower than the Low Income Cut-Off for large cities (which for 2019, was $21,899 for a single person).7 If you are receiving the maximum benefits under Employment Insurance,8 as a single person, this is well about the LAO threshold.

  1. S.O. 2020, c. 11, Sched. 15, online: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/20l11. []
  2. LAO, Legal Aid Service Rules, online: https://www.legalaid.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/Legal-Aid-Services-Act-2020_Rules-EN.pdf [LASR, 2020]. []
  3. LASR, 2020, ss. 9-11. []
  4. LASR, 2020, s. 9(3)(a). []
  5. LASR, 2020, TABLE: FINANCIAL ELIGIBILITY. [] []
  6. LASR, 2020, s. 9, especially at s. 9(b). []
  7. Statistics Canada, Table 11-10-0241-01 Low income cut-offs (LICOs) before and after tax by community size and family size, in current dollars, online: https://doi.org/10.25318/1110024101-eng. []
  8. Currently the maximum is $30,940. Canada, Service Canada, “How much you could receive” in “EI regular benefits: How much you could receive”, 27 September 2021, online: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-regular-benefit/benefit-amount.html. []

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