Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada


Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

  1. In 2008/2009, legal aid plans spent approximately $730 million on providing legal aid services in 11 provinces and territories, 1  which amounts to approximately $22 for every Canadian. After adjusting for inflation, legal aid spending was up about 6% from the previous year (Tables 4, 5 and 6).
  2. The majority of legal aid plans spend more on criminal matters than civil matters. Quebec and Ontario were exceptions; the Quebec legal aid plan allocated 43% of its direct expenditures to criminal matters, while in Ontario the figure was 48%. In the other jurisdictions the proportion of direct expenditures on criminal matters ranged from 57% for Nova Scotia to 75% for Saskatchewan. (Table 6).
  3. Legal aid in Canada is funded primarily by governments, both provincial/territorial and federal. Other funding is received by way of client contributions and cost recoveries, and contributions from the legal profession. In 2008/2009, funding for legal aid plans totalled over $714 million with 87% of this amount coming from governments. In the past five years, the proportion of funding covered by governments has declined gradually from 91% (Tables 1-1, 1-2).
  4. Provincial and territorial governments directly fund both criminal and civil legal aid. In 2008/2009 they contributed $513 million. 2  This was an increase of approximately 1% after inflation from the previous year and marked the fourth consecutive annual increase. In 2008/2009, funding was up in 7 jurisdictions, led by Newfoundland and Labrador at 27%, after inflation (Table 3).
  5. The federal government contributes directly to the cost of criminal legal aid. In 2008/2009, funding for all 13 jurisdictions totalled $112 million. Federal contributions to provincial legal aid plans were unchanged from the year before, while the three territorial plans shared an additional $1 million, which represented an increase of 29% after inflation (Table 2).
  6. Following two years of decline, the 11 reporting legal aid plans registered an increase of 4% in legal aid applications in 2008/2009. There was an equal increase for both criminal and civil legal aid applications. Just over 780,000 applications for legal assistance were received; applications for criminal matters accounted for 43% while the remainder of the applications were for civil matters (57%). The number of applications for legal aid increased in all but 2 of the 11 reporting jurisdictions: New Brunswick (-2%) and Manitoba (-1%) (Table 10).
  7. In 2008/2009, among the reporting legal aid plans, there were over 500,000 applications approved for full legal aid, which entitles the recipient to services that can include information, advice and representation in court. This represented an increase of 6% 3  from the previous year and was consistent with the rise in spending by legal aid plans. Approved applications for legal aid increased in all but three reporting jurisdictions (New Brunswick, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories), while Yukon reported the largest increase at 27% (Table 12 ).
  8. Approved applications for criminal and civil matters both increased by about 6% in comparison to the previous year. Criminal matters accounted for over half (56%) of approved applications in 2008/2009 (Table 12 ).
  9. In the reporting provinces and territories, just over 10,000 lawyers from both the private sector and legal aid plans provided legal aid assistance in 2008/2009, representing a decline of 8% from the previous year. Much of the decline can be attributed to a drop in the number of private lawyers providing legal aid assistance in Ontario. 4  Private lawyers accounted for 87% of lawyers providing legal aid services (Table 20).