$150m More Legal Aid for Ontario

There has been a legal aid boycott in Ontario by senior lawyers, protesting underfunding of the service in the province, especially for complex cases.

A report by Prof. Michael Code of UofT and the Hon. Patrick LeSage commissioned by the Attorney General of Ontario found that the previous system was placing cases in the hands of lawyers who were probably inadequately prepared to deal with them.

The Attorney General has responded to these issues by pledging an additional $150 million over the next four years for legal aid, a 21% increase, the largest in its history. Min. Bentley said,

We’re going to establish a working advisory group with the lawyers that are doing these cases to come up with a better approach to funding the defence of the large cases.

A new case management system will help build up expertise for complex trials to ensure that highly qualified counsel are handling them.

Details of the announcment will be made available Tuesday.


  1. I’m witholding judgment on this announcement until the details become far clearer than they currently are. Legal Aid used to operate on a block fee basis and abandoned that years ago due to run-away costs so I’m more than just a little bit curious to see what’s caused the AG to now announce that “block fees encourage effective decision making”.

  2. So far as I know, block fees encouraged shortcutting and dump-truck justice. There was an incentive to do as many cases as possible while putting in as few hours of work as possible into each. So I’ve heard, anyway.

  3. Good points.
    I’ve also heard that block fees may result in more guilty pleas and discourage trials, while providing $300 for minimal work.
    We’ll all have to keep an eye out on Tuesday’s announcement, and see how this case management system will work.