A Profile of Legal Aid Services in Family Law Matters in Canada

2. Description of family law legal aid services in Canada (continued)

2. Description of family law legal aid services in Canada (continued)

2.5 Québec

2.5.1 Delivery of services

Legal aid in Québec is administered by the Commission des services juridiques. The coverage model used for family matters in Québec is a combination of staff lawyers and the judicare model. An individual who is financially eligible for legal aid coverage receives the services of a staff lawyer or may choose a private lawyer who agrees to take on the case. Individuals wishing to apply for legal aid in Québec must do so in person at the legal aid office closest to their residence.

2.5.2 Coverage provisions

Legal services covered by legal aid in Québec are specified in legislation and include family matters, child protection, representation for young offenders, criminal charges, benefit claims in relation to income support or employment assistance, vehicle insurance, employment insurance, and worker’s compensation. No restrictions are placed on the type of family law matters that may be covered.

2.5.3 Financial eligibility

In Québec, recipients of social assistance are eligible for legal aid without any obligation of contribution (known as "gratuitous legal aid"). Other individuals may be eligible for legal aid if they meet certain financial criteria. To determine these criteria, Québec uses a complex formula consisting of income, value of property, and liquid assets. Individuals who do not meet the criteria for gratuitous legal aid coverage may still be eligible for legal aid in combination with a contribution of their own funds.

In terms of annual income, the cut-offs for eligibility for legal aid are: single person – $8,870; adult plus one child – $12,500; adult plus two children – $15,000; spouses without children – $12,500; spouses and one child – $15,000; and spouses and two children – $17,500. The cut-offs for property values are $90,000 in cases where the applicant or spouse is the owner of the residence, or $47,500 when neither the applicant nor the spouse is the owner of the residence. Cut-offs for liquid assets are $2,500 for a single person or $5,000 for a family. If an applicant is below the cut-off on each index, they are eligible for gratuitous legal aid. If individuals are entitled to gratuitous legal aid, there is no administrative fee. If individuals are eligible for legal aid involving a contribution, there is a $50 administrative fee that is considered to be part of the contribution.

If a person is above the cut-off on one or more criteria, his/her "reputed income" is calculated to determine if he/she might be eligible for legal aid with a contribution. Reputed income is calculated by summing 100 percent of the income in excess of the cut-off, 10 percent of property in excess of the cut-off, and 100 percent of liquid assets in excess of the cut-off. The resulting reputed income is then compared to table values to determine the contribution that is required of the individual before legal aid will cover the remainder of the legal fees.

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