The Access to Justice Crisis in Canada at a Glance

  • Only a small portion of legal problems – approximately 6.5% – ever reaches the formal justice system.
  • As a result of the inaccessibility of early assistance, legal services and dispute resolution assistance, as well as the complexity and length of formal procedures, approximately 50% of people try to solve their problems on their own with no or minimal legal or authoritative non-legal assistance.
  • Statistics indicate that individuals who receive legal assistance are between 17% and 1,380% more likely to receive better results than those who do not.
  • In Canada, over 20% of the population take no meaningful action with respect to their legal problems, and over 65% think that nothing can be done, are uncertain about their rights, do not know what to do, think it will take too much time, cost too much money or are simply afraid.
  • National ranges of legal fees are recently reported to be $13,561 – $37,229 for a civil action up to trial (2 days), $23,083 – $79,750 for a civil action up to trial (5 days), $38,296 – $124,574 for a civil action up to trial (7 days), and $12,333 – $36,750 for a civil action appeal. The length and cost of legal matters have continued to increase.
  • In Ontario, legal aid funding is generally only available for individuals with a gross annual salary of less than $18,000, or for a family of 4 with a total gross annual salary of $37,000.
  • Canada ranked 13th out of 29 high-income countries in 2012 – 2013 and 16th out of 23 high income countries in 2011 in the area of access to civil justice.
  • Nearly 12 million Canadians will experience at least 1 legal problem in a given 3 year period. In the area of family law alone, annual averages indicate that approximately 40% of marriages will end in divorce.
  • Almost 40% of people with one or more legal problem reported having other social or health related problems that they directly attributed to a justiciable problem.