What services can I get from Legal Aid Ontario in French?
As a government agency, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) must follow the French Language Services Act. This Act says that you have a right to get the following services from LAO in French if you live in one of the 27 designated areas:
- speak to someone in French when you phone LAO
- apply for a legal aid certificate in French
- speak to duty counsel and advice counsel in French
- speak to a community legal aid clinic in French
LAO also has phone lines in French in 4 regions of Ontario that can give:
- legal advice on specific legal issues in French
- referrals to services provided in French
These French phone lines serve:
- Northern Ontario
- Eastern Ontario
- Greater Toronto Area
- Southwestern Ontario
You can contact LAO by phone, email, mail, or fax. Every time you contact LAO, you must be given a choice to use French or English right away. For example, you will be greeted with “Hello-Bonjour”. This is sometimes called an active offer.
If you don’t live in one of the designated areas, you still have a right to services in French. But you might have to access services in French from the head office or in a different area from where you live where there is French-speaking staff.
If you don’t get services in French from LAO, or their French services don’t meet your needs, you can complain to the Ontario Ombudsman French Languages Services Unit. Complaints are confidential. You can make a complaint online or in person, by mail, email, or phone.