In 1998, the Ontario government enacted the Legal Aid Services Act in which the province renewed and strengthened its commitment to legal aid.
The Act established Legal Aid Ontario (LAO), an independent but publicly funded and publicly accountable non-profit corporation, to administer the province's legal aid program.
Legal Aid Ontario has a statutory mandate to promote access to justice throughout Ontario for low-income individuals by means of:
- Providing consistently high quality legal aid services in a cost-effective and efficient manner;
- Encouraging and facilitating flexibility and innovation in the provision of legal aid services;
- Identifying, assessing and recognizing the diverse legal needs of low-income individuals and of disadvantaged communities in Ontario; and
- Providing legal aid services to low-income individuals through a corporation that will operate independently from the Government of Ontario but within a framework of accountability to the Government of Ontario for the expenditure of public funds.
In fulfilling this mandate Legal Aid Ontario is committed to providing services which recognize the importance of diversity, access, equity, creativity and quality.