Infographic: Legal Aid in Canada 2019-20

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Infographic: Legal Aid in Canada 2019-20 - Text version

Description: Legal Aid in Canada

The annual legal aid report presents data on how legal aid is delivered in Canada. This infographic presents trend data over four years from 2016 to 2019.

Expenditures have been slightly increasing year over year while administrative costs are trending downwards – there were over $975 million in expenditures and $156 million in administrative costs in 2020

A majority of legal aid revenue is contributed by provinces/territories (PTs) (reported in 2020 constant dollars on May 21, 2020)

  • 2016/17 contributions: $707 million from PTs, $146 million from Justice Canada, $38 million other
  • 2017/18 contributions: $770 million from PTs, $152 million from Justice Canada, $81 million other
  • 2018/19 contributions: $758 million from PTs, $154 million from Justice Canada, $116 million other
  • 2019/20 contributions: $659 million from PTs, $187 from Justice Canada, $154 other

The number of legal aid applications has consistently been over 500,000 year over year, while the number of duty counsel assists continues to be over 1.2 million

  • 2016/17 total applications received: 622,349; total duty counsel assists: 1,161,853
  • 2017/18 total applications received: 598,848; total duty counsel assists: 1,214,222
  • 2018/19 total applications received: 593,676; total duty counsel assists: 1,229,291
  • 2019/20 total applications received: 556,452; total duty counsel assists: 1,204,877

There have been slight increases in the percentage of approved applications year over year and by application type

  • Criminal applications went from 81% approved in 2016/17 to 85% approved in 2019/20
  • Civil applications went from 75% approved 2016/17 to 76% approved in 2019/20
  • Total applications went from 78% approved in 2016/17 to 80% approved in 2019/20

Application characteristics are constant across all years.

  • The majority of legal aid applicants are male (61% average). A large proportion of applicants are between 18 and 34 years of age (45% average).
  • Slightly over half of applications (54% average) are for criminal matters while the most common reason for refusing an application is financial ineligibility (49% average)

Notes: Expenditures are payments made by legal aid plans to private law firms for the delivery of legal services and the costs of legal services delivered by legal aid plan staff. Duty counsel assists are services provided by a lawyer at a location other than a legal aid office, generally at court or a place of detention. Most often, the services provided are brief, and pertain to provision of summary services, docket court appearances, or representation at a first appearance or plea court.