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Ontario makes it easier for low-income families to get legal aid

FILE photo: Scales of justice

TORONTO – Ontario’s Liberal government is raising the income threshold for people to qualify for legal aid funding to $11,448 – about half the poverty line – starting Nov. 1.

The income threshold for a family of five to qualify for legal aid rises to $28,317.

Ontario has different levels of criteria to qualify for other legal aid services, such as duty counsel assistance and legal advice, but not if income is over $19,080 a year for a single person or $45,580 for a family of five.

Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur says it will cost the province $95.7 million dollars to increase the eligibility income threshold by six per cent over three years.

Meilleur says the higher thresholds – the first increases since 1996 – will mean another one million low-income Ontarians will have access to legal aid services after three years, more than double the current number.

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A recent report from Legal Aid Ontario estimated about 1.2 million people are below the poverty line but are not poor enough to qualify for full legal aid.