Legal Aid: Myths and Realities

In the News

Have you heard about legal aid but have no idea how it works? Perhaps you feel that legal aid doesn’t concern you? If so, it wouldn’t be surprising, as that there are many myths surrounding legal aid.

Is legal aid only for people who receive social assistance (welfare)?

No. Other low-income individuals may also quality for legal aid.

For example, a single parent with an annual income of up to $41,498 who has custody of two children is eligible.  

Is it true that a person who qualifies for legal aid never has to pay anything?

No. There’s also a program in which people whose income exceeds the cut-offs for free legal can receive legal aid by paying a contribution. This contribution depends on the person’s income and ranges from $100 to $800.

Is legal aid only for people accused of a crime?

No. Legal aid covers many areas of law, including such matters as divorce and appeals of decisions of the CNESST (labour standards, pay equity and workplace health and safety board).

If I qualify for legal aid, can a lawyer in private practice represent me?  

Yes. A lawyer in private practice can represent you if they accept legal aid cases.

Are children also allowed to receive legal aid? 

Yes. Children can receive legal aid, especially in cases involving the Director of Youth Protection. The lawyer’s role in this situation is to accompany children throughout the process and protect their interests.  

Are legal aid lawyers paid by the government?

No. Legal aid is funded by the Commission des services juridiques (legal services commission), which is an independent organization.