Eligibility thresholds for free legal aid increase by 15.3% as of January 1, 2014

Legal aid: A network at your service! (CNW Group/Commission des services juridiques)

MONTREAL, Dec. 27, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - The increase coming into effect on January 1, 2014 will bring the eligibility threshold for free legal aid to $16,306 and the maximum eligibility threshold for contributory legal aid to $26,309 for single individuals. It bears reminding that single individuals represent 73% of the legal aid clientele. A family composed of two spouses and two children, whose annual income is $26,737, will now be eligible for free legal aid.

As of June 1, 2015, eligibility thresholds will increase once again, with the minimum wage as a reference point. Thereafter, eligibility thresholds will be kept at this level through an indexation clause linking the thresholds to the minimum wage. Ultimately, the eligibility threshold increase for free legal aid will be 35.8%, which will facilitate access to justice for the portion of the population that works, but has limited income. The same is true for seniors living alone whose principal source of income is their Old Age Security benefits and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

Me Denis Roy, Chairman of the Commission des services juridiques, reminds the public that it is to the advantage of persons who require legal assistance and may be eligible for legal aid to contact the legal aid office closest to their residence in order to confirm such eligibility. "Given the terms and conditions prescribed by the act and the regulations, only legal aid staff can determine your eligibility; it is therefore important to make an appointment with a legal aid lawyer," stated Me Roy.

The new eligibility scale for services at no cost is as follows:

Class of Applicant   Maximum
Annual Income
     
For a single person   $16,306
For an applicant whose family is comprised of:     
  one adult and one child   $19,948
  one adult and 2 children or +   $21,296
  spouses without children     $22,691
  spouses with 1 child   $25,389
  spouses with 2 children or +   $26,737

Me Roy emphasized that the contributory scheme offers a unique formula that allows individuals to be represented by a lawyer before the courts while knowing, in advance, the maximum amount of the legal fees and costs. The contributory scheme allows an individual to receive legal services if his or her income, assets and liquidities match the eligibility scales in effect and if the individual pays a contribution ranging from $100 to $800, depending on the person's situation. The eligibility scale for legal aid under the contributory scheme is as follows:

Class of Applicant   Maximum Annual Income
     
For a single person   $26,309
For an applicant whose family is comprised of:     
  one adult and one child   $32,185
  one adult and 2 children or +   $34,360
  spouses without children     $36,616
  spouses with 1 child   $40,965
  spouses with 2 children or +   $43,141

About the Commission des services juridiques
The Commission des services juridiques is the agency charged with applying the Act respecting legal aid and the provision of certain other legal services in Québec. Legal aid may be granted to anyone who is financially eligible, in order to cover various legal services involving civil, family, administrative, criminal, health, immigration or youth law matters. It is also the agency charged with offering the services provided for in the Act to promote access to justice in family matters, namely, the Homologation Assistance Service (HAS), which has been in effect since October, 10, 2013, and the Service administratif de rajustement des pensions alimentaires pour enfants (SARPA), a child support recalculation service which will be available in the coming months.

For more information, please visit the Web site of the Commission des services juridiques at: http://www.csj.qc.ca.

Source:

Me Richard La Charité, rlacharite@csj.qc.ca
Director, Communications Department
(514) 873-3562, extension 261

SOURCE Commission des services juridiques

Image with caption: "Legal aid: A network at your service! (CNW Group/Commission des services juridiques)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131227_C6444_PHOTO_EN_35230.jpg

For further information:

Me Richard La Charité, rlacharite@csj.qc.ca
Director, Communications Department
(514) 873-3562, extension 261