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Legal aid spending up 4%, says StatsCan

|Written By Gail J. Cohen

Statistics Canada has just released it’s detailed report “Legal Aid in Canada: Resource and Caseload Statistics” for 2009-10.

In that time period, legal aid spending went up about four per cent overall. Provincial and territorial legal aid plans — excluding New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island — spent $762 million to provide legal aid services, or about $23 for every Canadian.

Other than Quebec and Ontario, legal aid plans spent more on criminal than civil cases in 2009-10. In Quebec, 43 per cent of legal aid money went to criminal matters, while in Ontario the figure was 47 per cent. In the other jurisdictions the proportion of direct expenditures on criminal matters ranged from 56 per cent for Alberta to 74 per cent for Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories.

The report also shows that legal aid plans across the country received $721 million in funding, of which 93 per cent came from the provincial/territorial and federal goverments. The rest came from client client contributions, cost recovery monies, and contributions from the legal profession.

In 2009-10, provincial and territorial governments contributed $547 million to both civil and criminal legal aid, a six-per-cent increase from the previous year (after inflation) and marked the fifth consecutive annual increase. Manitoba had the highest increase at 31 per cent. On the other hand, the feds only contribute to the cost of criminal legal aid and its funding for all 13 jurisdictions totalled $112 million, down slightly from the year before.

According to the report, about 745,000 applications for legal assistance were received by legal aid plans in the 11 reporting provinces and territories in 2009-10, down five per cent from the previous year. The lower numbers are attributed to fewer civil legal aid applications. Criminal legal aid applications remained unchanged. Of all the applications, almost 500,000 were approved for full legal aid services (including providing information, advice, and representation in court), down one per cent from the previous year.

And the final highlight of the report shows in the reporting provinces and territories, even though almost 10,000 lawyers — private lawyers: 87 per cent; legal aid plan staff lawyers: 13 per cent — provided legal aid assistance in 2009-10, those numbers are down two per cent from the previous year.

For all the detailed charts and full Statistics Canada report, please see the attached document.


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