Legal Aid


June 2016

The Government of Canada currently contributes $128 million a year towards legal aid. The funding announced in Budget 2016 will be an additional $88 million over five years for criminal legal aid in the provinces and criminal and civil legal aid in the territories, distributed as follows:

  • 2016-17: $9 million
  • 2017-18: $12 million
  • 2018-19: $15 million
  • 2019-20: $20 million
  • 2020-21: $32 million

The federal government will contribute an additional $30 million per year on an ongoing basis starting in 2021-22.

The funding will be distributed among provinces and territories according to a formula that is being negotiated among federal, provincial and territorial officials.

The federal Legal Aid Program provides contribution funding to the provinces and territories for the delivery of legal aid services for economically disadvantaged persons. This investment will assist provinces and territories in meeting legal aid needs. As this is a cost-shared program with provinces and territories, they also contribute. The Government’s investments in the justice system will be complemented by efforts to modernize the system and ensure that Canadians are getting value for money.

Legal aid services are delivered by the provinces and territories. The federal Legal Aid Program does not provide funding directly to individuals for their legal aid expenses. Rather, federal funding is provided to provinces and territories to deliver legal aid services. Each province and territory supports a legal aid plan, which in turn provides a range of legal aid services according to its own policies and priorities.

Legal aid provides assistance to people who cannot otherwise afford a lawyer. People should contact their provincial or territorial government legal aid plans for more information about how to qualify. It is central in providing access to justice by ensuring equality before the law and the right to a fair trial. Legal aid helps to ensure that the Canadian justice system is fair, efficient and accessible and that public confidence in the justice system is maintained.

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