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Access to Justice Blog

Analysis and opinions from the leading voices in access to justice research.

Quin Gilbert-Walters
Apr 11, 2017

There is a new socially innovative initiative, known as Social Impact Bonds (SIBs), whereby the private sector shares in the risk and reward associated with the outcome of social programs. With funding being a challenge for many not-for-profits and stakeholders working to improve access to justice across Canada, SIBs may provide a way forward for many in this area.

SIBs are a “pay-for-success” contract in which the government contracts with a private actor to create a program. The government is only required to pay if the program meets a threshold target. Often, there will be a range of targets with a corresponding payout depending on the level of success. In 2015, the Ontario government committed to piloting SIBs as part of its poverty reduction strategy.

SIBs were first developed in 2014 in Saskatchewan with a program to support at-risk single mothers. The program, a five-year arrangement, was a collaboration between a credit union and a youth centre... Read More

Issue of the Month
Jennifer Leitch, PhD
Dec 12, 2016

An increasing amount of research and data point to the value of using both legal and non-legal services to address civil justice problems. For members of society who experience social exclusion, the ability to jointly access these resources bears additional significance. Canadian Forum on Civil Justice Senior Research Fellow, Dr. Jennifer Leitch discusses the merits of a multidisciplinary approach to access to justice, and the Cost of Justice research study that she has begun on this theme, in a paper that is published on the CFCJ website here.

Dr. Leitch explains that the goal of this study is ultimately to explore what services, information or support might help people to address the broader scope of challenges they face related to their legal problems and, what benefits might be attributed to the provision of a broader scope of services that offers an expanded concept of access... Read More

Lucas Gindin, Lisa Moore
Dec 12, 2016

Much of the work that is being done to improve access to justice for Canadians comes down to access to justice advocates. As a part of our efforts to highlight the diverse range of individuals working across the access to justice arena, the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice was thrilled to recently speak with Sarah McCoubrey for our Access to Justice Advocates series.

Sarah McCoubrey, a lawyer and a founding partner at Calibrate Solutions, is well-known in the access to justice community. She has been integral to several provincial and national campaigns that have sought to disseminate information, research and resources pertaining to a number of access to justice issues. We recently sat down with Sarah for our Access to Justice Advocate series to talk about her work, shifts in the access to justice landscape and what needs to be done to improve the accessibility of our civil justice system. The interview with Sarah was... Read More

Ab Currie, PhD
Dec 09, 2016

The Legal Health Check-Up (LHC) is a uniquely valuable tool for documenting unmet legal need at a very fine-grained, local level. The LHC questionnaire is administered by community groups and service agencies to people seeking their services. Individuals who require service from the legal clinic are referred to the clinic. The LHC form becomes the basis for a dialogue between the clinic staff and the individual, laying the groundwork for a more holistic and integrated service that would otherwise not have occurred with an intake process focussing on addressing only one problem that is presented. The larger number of LHC forms, which may or may not include requests for help from other services, can provide useful insight and, can  be included in a database that comprises all the individuals who complete the forms and report the problems they are currently experiencing.

The LHC used for data collection does not constitute a random and representative survey. The scope of the data depends on factors such as the number of groups in the community that have LHC partnership arrangements with the legal clinic. The... Read More

Mitchell Perlmutter
Dec 08, 2016

A couple months ago, I had the privilege of attending a conference centered on the theme of Civil Justice and Economics. This conference, presented by the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice (CIAJ) in partnership with the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ), featured presentations by a number of prominent researchers, academics, judges, legal practitioners, and government and non-profit stakeholders, all devoted to the common goal of improving the economic efficiency and accessibility of our civil justice system. While the Canadian justice system has been touted internationally as fundamentally fair, rule abiding, and open, it has received mediocre rankings on scales of efficiency and accessibility, particularly in the realm of civil justice.[1] This is no secret when considering the extent to which some of the highest members of our judiciary have bemoaned the current state of access to justice in Canada.[2] As a leader among nations, Canada is a country that has the capacity to do better and must do better.

While there is still a tremendous amount of work to... Read More