Infographic: Legal Aid in Canada 2020-21
Infographic: Legal Aid in Canada 2020-21 – Text version
Legal Aid in Canada
The annual legal aid report presents data on legal aid delivery in Canada. This infographic presents trend data over five years from 2016-17 to 2020-21.
After gradually increasing, expenditures, including administrative costs, went down in 2020-21 – there were $869 million in expenditures and $156 million in administrative costs in 2020-21.
Breakdown of Federal and Provincial/Territorial funding
- 2016-17 contributions: $728 million from PTs, $150 million from Justice Canada, $40 million other
- 2017-18 contributions: $790 million from PTs, $156 million from Justice Canada, $83 million other
- 2018-19 contributions: $783 million from PTs, $159 million from Justice Canada, $120 million other
- 2019-20 contributions: $679 million from PTs, $192 million from Justice Canada, $159 million other
- 2020-21 contributions: $682 million from PTs, $190 million from Justice Canada, $76 million other
*Administrative costs have decreased due to operational disruptions attributed to COVID-19. Expenditures, costs and revenue are reported in 2021 constant dollars. (Constant dollars (vs. current dollars) are adjusted to reflect inflation to make comparisons between years more accurate; here the constant dollars have been adjusted as of March 15, 2022.)
The number of legal aid applications and duty counsel assists (legal services provided to an un-represented accused at a court house or in a courtroom) decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic
- 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
- 2020-21 total applications received: 458,149; total duty counsel assists: 742,082
The approval rate of legal aid applications increased slightly between 2016-17 and 2018-19, before leveling off in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
- Criminal applications went from 81% approved in 2016-17 to 84% approved in 2020-21
- Civil** applications went from 75% approved 2016-17 to 76% approved in 2020-21
- Total applications went from 78% approved in 2016-17 to 80% approved in 2020-21
**Includes Immigration and Refugee (I&R) matters
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 (44% average).
- Slightly over half of applications (54% average) are for criminal matters while the most common reason for refusing an application is financial ineligibility (51% average).
- 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.
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