Ontario Justice Partners Launch New Steps to Justice Website: A First of its Kind in the Province

Site provides comprehensive and reliable information on everyday legal problems related to family, housing, employment and other areas of law

  • Majority of Ontarians (57%) seek legal advice at some point in their lives and almost half (45%) of those report facing barriers in trying to access the justice system.

  • Almost half of Ontarians (48%) believe that published practical legal information would enhance access to justice.

  • Steps to Justice website is designed to be a simple and easy-to-understand resource with a live chat function that helps people find the information that they need.

TORONTO, Jan. 18, 2017 /CNW/ - Problems with landlords, unfair treatment at a job, and getting separated or divorced: these are some of the issues that Ontarians face every day. However, many cannot access the information they need to understand the legal implications of their problems and respond. 

Now they can go to Steps to Justice – a new website that empowers people in Ontario to understand and take action to deal with their legal problems.

A first of its kind, Steps to Justice presents easy-to-understand, step-by-step information on common issues that people experience in family, housing, employment and other areas of law.

Steps to Justice is designed to:

  • Equip people to work through their legal problems through simple, easy-to-understand steps
  • Provide practical tools such as checklists, fillable forms and self-help guides
  • Give referral information for legal and social services across Ontario
  • Connect people via live chat and email-based support for answers to additional questions

Steps to Justice is led by Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) and brings together key justice sector players such as the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice, the Social Justice Tribunals of Ontario, Legal Aid Ontario, the Law Society of Upper Canada, and the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario.

"While people across the province depend on the Internet as a source of information, it is difficult for people to know if they are consulting a reliable website for legal information," says Julie Mathews, Executive Director of CLEO. "People in Ontario face legal issues every day and now they can connect with simple and accurate online information to help them take steps in their situation."

A recent study by The Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG) showed that a majority of Ontarians seek legal advice at some point in their lives and almost half of those surveyed report facing barriers accessing the justice system.

"Projects like Steps to Justice help break down barriers by giving all Ontarians the legal information and tools they need," says Attorney General Yasir Naqvi. "This is an empowering initiative and a great example of how we can use technology to make the justice process and the law more accessible and open to everyone. Collaborating on Steps to Justice is an example of another big step forward in our collective effort to increase access to justice."  

Numerous justice sector partners are collaborating on content development to ensure the information is accurate and practical; the website will be updated regularly based on their input. Justice sector and community organizations will also be able to embed or present this automatically-updated Steps to Justice content on their own websites to share with their users.

"Justice and community organizations are responding to the public's need for accessible, reliable and accurate legal information," says Paul Schabas, Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada. "The Law Society created TAG to facilitate cross-sector collaboration and we are proud of its work in fostering the development of Steps to Justice. The people of Ontario now have an enhanced, coordinated initiative that they can count on."

About Steps to Justice:
Led by Community Legal Education Ontario, Steps to Justice is a collaborative project of leading justice sector organizations.  It is a signature initiative of The Action Group on Access to Justice.

About CLEO
CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario/Education juridique communautaire Ontario) is a non-profit organization that provides accurate and easy-to-understand information and education about the law for people in Ontario, particularly those who have low incomes or other disadvantages. CLEO is funded by Legal Aid Ontario, the Department of Justice Canada, and the Law Foundation of Ontario.

About TAG
The Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG) is catalyzing solutions to Ontario's access to justice challenges by facilitating collaboration with institutional, political and community stakeholders. It is funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario with support from the Law Society of Upper Canada.

About the Survey:
Public Perceptions of Access to Justice in Ontario was conducted online with 1,500 Ontarians ages 18 and over from August 22 to 25, 2016. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.6%, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Ontario's population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

SOURCE The Action Group on Access to Justice

For further information: Orli Giroux Namian, ogiroux@lsuc.on.ca, 416 947 3336

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The Action Group on Access to Justice

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