A Study on Legal Aid and Official Languages in Canada

Appendix A - INTERVIEW GUIDE LEGAL AID MANAGERS AND STAFF

Legal Aid and Official Languages in Canada

The Department of Justice Canada has recently launched a nation-wide study on the use of both official languages in the provision of legal aid services. The objectives of this study are:

  • To identify the policies and practices that are currently in place within legal aid plans regarding the provision of legal aid services in both official languages.
  • To identify the difficulties that clients may encounter in accessing legal aid services in their official language of choice.
  • To determine the increased level of service that may be required in order to ensure access to legal aid services in both official languages, and the cost of these increased levels of service.

While not excluding issues surrounding civil and family matters, the focus of this research is on issues pertaining to criminal matters.

The following questions cover issues relating to the legal aid services currently offered in the official language of the minority, the need for these services, the challenges to the provision of these services and possible initiatives and their associated costs.

Services offered in the official language of the minority

  • 1. Are there any practices or policies (formal and informal) in place for the provision of legal aid services in the language of the minority? Please describe. To which of the following legal aid services do these policies apply:
    • Duty counsel?
    • Brydges representation?
    • Representation for criminal matters?
    • Representation for civil and family matters?
    • Information services/Information line?
    • Advice and assistance?
    • Other?
  • 2. In what languages is information offered on the Internet? Information line?
  • 3. How are inquiries for services in the language of the minority handled (over the phone, in person/reception, information line)?
    1. When someone speaks in the language of the minority?
    2. When someone speaks in the language of the majority but asks for services in the language of the minority?
  • 4. Please describe the step-by-step procedure followed to provide clients with legal aid services in the official language of the minority. How accessible would you say these services are?
  • 5. In your opinion, what are the gaps in the range of legal aid services and resources available in the official language of the minority? Can you identify gaps that should be addressed in priority?

Need for legal aid services in the official language of the minority

  • 6. For each of the following services, what would you say is the level of need (percentage of cases where a client requests services in the language of the minority, percentage of francophone clients, etc) for legal aid services in the language of the minority:
    • Duty counsel?
    • Brydges representation?
    • Criminal matters?
    • Family and civil matters?
    • Representation at trial?
    • Information services/Information line?
    • Advice and assistance?
    • Other?
  • 7. In what ways would you say the provision of legal aid services in the language of the minority might be beneficial to clients (understanding of procedures, communication between lawyer and client, results of case, etc)? What are the consequences, if any, of not providing legal aid services in both official languages?
  • 8. At this point in time, how important is it to the legal aid system in your province that clients receive services in their official language of choice? Has this issue been addressed internally?
  • 9. Have you been approached on this issue by community organizations or advocacy groups? Have you received client complaints?

Challenges to the provision of legal aid services in both official languages

  • 10. Based on your experience, what are the barriers that may prevent the provision or expansion of legal aid services in the official language of choice(systemic barriers, linguistic barriers, financial barriers, etc)? Which ones do you feel should be addressed in priority?
  • 11. Based on the legal aid delivery model in your province (staff lawyers vs. judicare), what would you say are the challenges that exist in relation to the provision or expansion of legal aid services in the official language of the minority(staffing challenges, model requirements, budget constraints, etc)?

Initiatives and Associated costs

  • 12. In your opinion, what changes, if any, should be made in order to ensure that legal aid services be available in the official language of choice?
  • 13. If changes are required, what is the nature of the costs for these proposed modifications (service delivery sites, personnel, infrastructure, staffing, training, etc.)? For each proposed change, can you provide an estimate (range, percentage or dollar value) of the additional funding required and the possible sources of this funding (provincial, federal, other sources)?
  • 14. Based on your experience, if additional funding was provided for your proposed changes, what would you say are the most important challenges in implementing these changes?

Conclusion

  • 15. Do you have any other comments?

Your participation is greatly appreciated!

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