Legal Aid Ontario is raising the possibility of office closures due to a budget deficit and economic conditions.
In a press release, LAO announced it would begin moving to a mix of phone, Internet, and courthouse services for its Parry Sound and Bracebridge/Muskoka offices.
It has not yet said whether closures or layoffs are pending.
The two offices will now be grouped with a site in Barrie as part of the central office, a regional hub out of which staff will manage legal aid services throughout the region.
LAO said the move will save infrastructure and overhead costs, will improve access to services in a region where public transportation can be a challenge, and will help to reduce court delays.
“Clients will continue to receive direct legal advice and assistance through the duty counsel program, which is available in every courthouse in the province. LAO will also be expanding its presence in the courthouse and enhancing duty counsel services,” the release said.
LAO pointed to a budget deficit due to dropping revenues from the Law Foundation of Ontario as a reason for the change in service.
In addition, the $150-million funding injection announced by the provincial government is earmarked for service enhancements and cannot be applied to the deficit, the release said.
FORMER SNC EXEC JOINS HEENAN
The new year will mark the addition of Jacques Lamarre, former president and CEO of SNC-Lavalin, to Heenan Blaikie LLP.
Asformer head of a global powerhouse in engineering and construction,Lamarre will bring expertise to the firm’s construction, energy, andinfrastructure practice and will advise clients on public-privatepartnerships, the firm said.
GOWLINGS LANDS D’AQUINO
Thomas d’Aquino will be joining Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP as senior counsel and chair of its business-strategy and public-policy group.
Since 1981, d’Aquino has headed the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, a lobby group for about 150 major Canadian corporations.
Gowlings said d’Aquino will bring insight on national and international issues, add expertise in public policy, and serve as an adviser on business strategy.
REMAND NUMBERS BOOST INCARCERATION RATE
Canada’s rate of incarceration continued to rise in 2008-09, driven largely by the increasing number of adults held in custody while awaiting trial or sentencing.
The number of adults and youth held in jails and prisons rose by one per cent, the fourth consecutive increase after a decade of declines.
According to a Statistics Canada report, on any given day, an average of 37,425 adults and 1,898 youth aged 12 to 17 were in custody, for a total of 39,323 inmates.
That amounts to an incarceration rate of 118 people in custody for every 100,000
people in the country.
The report noted a four-per-cent increase in adults being held in remand, at 13,500 people on any given day. This figure has doubled over the past decade.
PROVINCE UNVEILS ELECTION REFORMS
The Ontario government has proposed new legislation that, if passed, will give voters more options to submit their ballots.
The election statute law amendment act was introduced into the legislature last week. It includes a proposal to allow Ontarians to vote by special ballot.
The bill also aims to make provincial elections more accessible by giving voters with disabilities access to equipment that would allow them to vote independently without the assistance of a third party.