If you’re hoping to get a Legal Aid Certificate to hire a lawyer to defend you, the hard facts are that unfortunately, you will most probably NOT qualify. Here is some information you need to know and some inadequate explanation of why.
“Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) received $354 million in funding during the 2010/11 fiscal year, with 76% of that coming from the provincial government. Additional funds came from the federal government under a cost-sharing agreement, from the Law Foundation of Ontario, and from clients whose income levels require them to help pay for legal assistance.” (Ontario Auditor’s Report 2011)
Firstly note that the federal government makes the criminal law and the provincial government builds the courthouses and pays the Crown Attorney’s to prosecute you and pays the Judges to judge you. Secondly they claim not to have enough money to pay lawyers to defend you and even if they did, do you really want a government paid lawyer, because with money comes control.
LAO however does seem to have plenty of money to pay themselves. “LAO incurred $47 million in expenditures on administration and other expenses.” (Ontario Auditor’s Report 2011)
If a certificate is issued to you, you can take that certificate to a lawyer of your choosing who is willing to accept that at the sole source of compensation for defending your criminal charge. According to the report less than ½ (49.17%) of LAO’s expenditures were for the issuance of certificates.
You will most likely NOT be granted a certificate if your annual gross individual income is over $10,800 AND you must be facing a likely (in their sole opinion) period of incarceration, if convicted, exceeding 90 days.
In other words, we won’t be issuing YOU a certificate, but here, have a cookie. A cookie always makes you feel better.
So where does the money go? LAO has published a website page entitled “BENEFITS OF WORKING AT LAO” Here’s what the staff get:
Annual salary of $60,601 – $107,464 (non-management lawyers)
17 days paid vacation
Up to 32 weeks of pregnancy and parental leave
6 paid sick days per year with 5 to 120 days paid at 100% of pay with medical documentation
Choice of benefits package
LAO payment into health care spending account
80% of prescription drug costs up to $2,500/annum
Semi-private hospital accommodation
$25,000 private duty nursing/3 yrs
Paramedical practitioners up to $1000/annum
Basic life insurance
Dental benefits up to 100% reimbursement
Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance
LawPro insurance fully paid
Law Society membership fees fully paid
Employee and Family Assistance Program
Training opportunities/career development opportunities
Flexible working hours
Casual office attire
And here is the Executive compensation (exclusive of earned bonuses)
Executive Base Salary 2010 ($) Base Salary 2011 ($) Salary Increase (%)
Bob Ward CEO 226,000 264,000 17
Janet Budgell VP 148,000 168,000 14
David McKillop VP 156,000 175,000 12
Heather Robertson VP 156,000 175,000 12
Michelle Seguin VP 162,000 182,000 12
As for the Managers:
The public sector salary disclosure documents (2012 “Sunshine List” of those earning more than $100,000) reveal a dramatic increase in managers on the list. The number of managers listed has increased from 3 in 2007 to 19 in 2011 – a 533% increase.
THEY PAY THEMSELVES WELL BUT IF YOU’RE EARNING MORE THAN $10,800 A YEAR YOU’RE MAKING TOO MUCH!