Message from the Board Chair

2016 was a dynamic year of outreach, grantmaking, and evaluation here at The Law Foundation of Ontario.


Our national Access to Justice Fund (ATJF) had a very busy year. Three granting calls were in various stages of being processed. In 2016, we received 201 letters of intent and 100 full applications and we made 35 grants totalling $2.8 million.

All our other granting programs were active and busy as well. Including the $27.9 million to Legal Aid Ontario, the ATJF, and all other granting, we invested over $39.2 million in 2016 to advance access to justice.

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One of our current strategic priorities is to better understand and communicate the impact of our funding. We established common quantitative measures for our grantees so we could better identify how many people are being served with our funding. We also developed a multi-year evaluation plan. We evaluated our Connecting Articling Fellowship program and are in the process of reviewing the Connecting Ottawa program. We also commissioned important research about frontline workers who provide community-based legal help. We will be sharing the results of our evaluations.


The Foundation’s primary source of revenue is the interest earned on lawyers’ and paralegals’ mixed trust accounts. It is important that every penny owed finds its way to the Foundation in order for us to continue our grantmaking. This is especially true in these times of record low interest rates. We depend on the cooperation of the legal professions and financial institutions to achieve this goal.

We worked closely with the Law Society of Upper Canada on improvements to the professions’ annual reporting process to ensure that the legal professions are reporting their mixed trust accounts, and we continued to meet with financial institutions to verify that all mixed trust accounts are recorded accurately.


Paul Schabas resigned as Chair of the Board in 2016, and I had the honour of succeeding him in that position. Paul was, and is, an extraordinary champion of the Foundation and of access to justice. Paul served on the Foundation for nine years. He brought a serious and thoughtful approach to the Foundation’s work and was always focused on supporting and valuing the perspectives of our grantees.

Also in 2016, Christopher Clifford stepped down from the Board after three years of dedicated service. Two new Trustees joined us: Paul Le Vay and Isfahan Merali. Over his career, Paul has shown a deep commitment to improving access to justice for Franco-Ontarians and is past President of L’Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario (AJEFO). The first female South Asian Bencher in the Law Society’s history, Isfahan has spent her legal career working to advance the rights of diverse groups and individuals who face barriers and challenges in society.


Writing this message gave me the opportunity to reflect on my first year as Chair. I spent many hours learning about the work of our grantees, meeting them in-person, and seeing them in action. For example, I met with the Ontario law Deans and visited law schools in Windsor and Thunder Bay. I talked to lawyers and law students at student legal aid clinics and to faculty who focus on improving justice for Indigenous peoples and self-represented litigants, among others.

My visit to Thunder Bay also allowed me to attend the opening ceremony of the Indigenous Peoples’ Court and a celebratory dinner hosted by the Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre, a grantee, and the Nishnawbe-Aski Legal Services Corporation. This gave me a wonderful opportunity to see how the tremendous efforts of community organizations and justice partners, with a little help from a grant from us, can lead to innovative solutions that address pressing access to justice needs, such as the over-representation of Indigenous people within the criminal justice system.

For this annual report, we wanted to give you the opportunity to meet some of the people ‘behind the grants’ too. We chose one area of our granting to focus on, sharing some of what I learned and saw first-hand: how law schools and law students are serving the public and furthering access to justice.

Getting to know the people behind the grants has been a real gift to me. But more than that, I am convinced that the work they are doing to understand the issues and provide practical solutions is helping to advance access to justice for the people of Ontario.

Linda Rothstein
Chair, The Law Foundation of Ontario

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Granting highlights:


Illustration of a graduate student

The Law Foundation of Ontario envisions a justice system that puts people at its heart. In part, this means a system that understands and responds to the changing needs of the public and is made up of people who reflect the diversity and experiences of the people being served. One way the Foundation champions this vision is by supporting law students as they prepare to enter this system.

The Foundation was created under the Law Society Act in 1974. One of its four statutory objects is legal education. Legal education is a broad term. It encompasses: legal education and information for the public; training community-based workers to help them support their clients who are facing legal problems; educating young people about democracy and the justice system; and experiential learning opportunities for students.

Two significant ways the Foundation supports legal education is through our granting to Ontario’s law schools and as the primary funder of Pro Bono Students Canada, which has chapters at every law school in the province. Since its inception, the Foundation has invested over $80 million to support law schools and over $7 million to support Pro Bono Students Canada.

Each year, the Foundation grants close to $2 million in total to Ontario’s law schools. This funding helps support the schools’ efforts to:

  • Offer experiential learning opportunities for students so they can provide legal assistance to individuals and community service organizations
  • Foster diversity within the legal professions and advance the legal professions’ understanding of diversity
  • Respond to the access to justice needs of the local community
  • Foster law students’ commitment to lifelong learning, high ethical standards, pro bono work, and work that serves the public interest

Thanks in part to the Foundation’s longstanding support, law students are advancing access to justice while in law school. Law students are getting on-the-ground experience serving the public and helping people use the law to improve their lives. Students gain an understanding of the legal issues that people in their community are facing and the public benefits from the knowledge and dedication of the students. The law schools and law students are important partners in realizing the Foundation’s vision of putting people at the heart of justice.


Annie Legate-Wolfe, Western University, Faculty of Law



Scarlett Trazo, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Common Law


Amanda Carling, University of Toronto, Faculty of Law

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The Law Foundation of Ontario and Ontario’s law schools:


The Law Foundation of Ontario provides funding to Ontario’s law schools to help support a variety of access to justice initiatives. On the following pages, the Deans of Ontario’s law schools share their thoughts about this access to justice partnership.

“With The Law Foundation of Ontario’s funding, Lakehead Law students are able to engage in meaningful Aboriginal legal education activities such as learning on the land in the Fort William First Nation as part of the Sugar Bush teaching with community knowledge holders. As a law school, we hosted the Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School for a Law Day to introduce First Nation students from remote communities to the possibility of pursuing a career in the legal field.

Our law students received support for summer opportunities such as interning for the Nishnawbe-Aski Legal Services Corp. assisting with reviewing court services and a third year law student who spent her summer as a Justice Intern at the Nokiiwin Tribal Council where she conducted legal workshops to communities, assisted in the development of a regional Access to Justice strategy, and drafted a proposal to implement the strategy to the Ministry of the Attorney General.

As a contributor to our Lakehead University Community Legal Services Clinic, the funding is instrumental in the work of our law students representing low-income clients, a majority of whom are Aboriginal, involved in a variety of legal matters from Landlord-Tenant Law to Provincial Offences. The clinic can be a beacon of hope for those without representation in a time of great need.

We are deeply grateful for the Foundation’s support making these legal initiatives possible.”

– Angelique EagleWoman, Dean,
Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, Lakehead University 

Angelique EagleWoman, Dean, Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, Lakehead University

Lakehead University, Bora Laskin Faculty of Law

“The Law Foundation of Ontario’s generous support enables Osgoode to fulfill its mission to provide experiential legal education, accessible justice, and advance the public interest. In 2006, with a Foundation grant, Osgoode launched Canada’s first Public Interest Requirement (OPIR) under which every JD student engages in at least 40 hours of legal related public interest placements. In 2012, Osgoode added to OPIR with the Praxicum, which ensures that all JD students participate in clinical and intensive programs that bring together innovative ideas in law with law in action.

From Parkdale Community Legal Services, a leading voice in the clinic system in Ontario for over 45 years, to CLASP, the Mediation Intensive Clinic, and Osgoode’s newest clinical programs in Investor Protection with FAIR, and Feminist Legal Advocacy in collaboration with the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, the Foundation’s support has made possible enduring community partnerships, outstanding opportunities for diverse law students, and better access to justice for those in need. The Foundation has been instrumental in other organizations that enrich Osgoode’s academic community, from Law in Action within Schools (LAWS) to the Law Commission of Ontario. In all these (and other ways), The Law Foundation of Ontario has provided the spark and sustaining energy for Ontario’s Law Schools to build progressive communities of learning while improving the communities around them.”

– Lorne Sossin, Dean,
Osgoode Hall Law School, York University

Lorne Sossin, Dean, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University

Osgoode Hall Law School, York University

“Thanks to funding from The Law Foundation of Ontario, a number of students had the opportunity to learn first-hand about the needs of the population in terms of access to justice and the financial and administrative barriers that people face on a daily basis.

As part of the Centre de justice de proximité de l’Outaouais, the students were also able to develop transferable skills by collaborating in the organization of a large event, le Salon Accès Justice, where the population had access to free legal information and in preparing 32 radio segments and 27 newspaper articles on legal issues. One student was involved with the Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario in the improvement of a virtual library (, which lists thousands of legal resources concerning the practice of law and legal terminology, in order to fill the lack of legal tools adapted to the realities of French Common Law and English Civil Law. The research and census work completed by the student was an important contribution.

The Foundation’s contribution helps to create awareness among law students around the many challenges facing access to justice while informing and helping people who truly need the support.”

– Céline Lévesque, Dean,
Civil Law Section, University of Ottawa

Céline Lévesque, Dean, Civil Law Section, University of Ottawa

Civil Law Section, University of Ottawa

“The funding provided by The Law Foundation of Ontario has played a crucial role in our ongoing expansion of experiential learning opportunities oriented to access to justice. Through courses and fellowships, our students have offered Free Law events at a local shopping mall, assisted street-involved people in defending against ‘nuisance’ ticketing, supported environmental justice seekers and international human rights advocates, and helped guide low-income community members, refugee claimants, individual tax-payers, small charities, and budding entrepreneurs through legal forms and processes. Students attest to the benefit of these courses in opening their eyes, shifting their perspectives, and deepening their knowledge and skills. But for these courses, the people served would have no legal help.

Beyond experiential learning, the Foundation’s funding also contributes to our efforts to foster diversity in the legal profession, which, in turn, can enable access to justice. The funding sustains a variety of academic, social/cultural, and professional development support programs aimed at ensuring the success of Indigenous students and others from groups and circumstances that are underrepresented in the legal profession. Many of these students go on to be legal assistance providers and leaders in their own communities.

We are proud of our students’ contributions to access to justice, at law school and beyond. And, we are profoundly grateful for the invaluable support of The Law Foundation of Ontario.”

– François J Larocque, Interim Dean,
Common Law Section, University of Ottawa

François J Larocque, Interim Dean, Common Law Section, University of Ottawa

Common Law Section, University of Ottawa

“At Queen’s Law, experiential education is a key part of our mandate, and we cannot overstate the value of the support provided by The Law Foundation of Ontario. With the Foundation’s help, the Queen’s Law Clinics provide a central resource for access to justice in Kingston and region, providing low-income residents with the legal help they need. The Clinics also provide a tremendous learning opportunity for our students, allowing them to get hands-on experience in a wide range of legal issues.

Along with advancing access to justice, it is also vital that our legal profession reflect the diverse society in which we live in. The Foundation’s support of our Education Equity program means that we can provide essential support services to all our students, including those from diverse backgrounds, thereby ensuring that all of our students are given an equal opportunity to thrive.”

– Bill Flanagan, Dean,
Queen’s Law, Queen’s University

Bill Flanagan, Dean, Queen’s Law, Queen’s University

Queen’s Law, Queen’s University

“The Faculty of Law and The Law Foundation of Ontario share a commitment to access to justice, diversity, and experiential learning. Thanks in significant part to the Foundation’s generosity, we are able to offer our students a wonderful experiential opportunity with our well-developed clinical programs. As one example, Downtown Legal Services serves to both benefit the broader community by delivering much-needed legal assistance to low-income clients and provides our students with a hands-on learning opportunity.

The Foundation’s support also enables the Faculty to offer pipeline building programs that increase the diversity of the justice sector. One such program, Law in Action Within Schools, offers educational programs, support, and mentorship for marginalized high school students. It serves to expose young minds to the importance of law in structuring society and opens up the possibility of future legal studies to those who might not otherwise have regarded this as a realistic path to pursue.

With the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report, our Faculty has placed increasing emphasis on Indigenous matters, including supporting our Indigenous students. The role of our Indigenous Initiatives Office, which receives significant funding from the Foundation, has expanded in response to the TRC’s Calls to Action. We are proud of what the Office has accomplished and what is planned for future years, and are very grateful for the Foundation’s support.”

– Edward Iacobucci, Dean,
Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

Edward Iacobucci, Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

University of Toronto, Faculty of Law

“The Law Foundation of Ontario’s support is critical to the legal clinics housed at Western Law. Not only do these clinics provide experiential education to our students, but more importantly, they teach our students the value of pro bono legal work and a spirit of community service. Western’s Community Legal Services Clinic and our chapter of Pro Bono Students Canada involve students in the provision of legal services to a range of community organizations and unrepresented parties. This is especially important in the fields of family law, eviction prevention, and small claims.

Our students also provide assistance to those with physical and mental disabilities, youth at risk, victims of domestic violence, and cultural organizations. This work brings students face-to-face with community members whose personal circumstances are vastly different than their own, helping them to develop the sense of empathy that is vital to our profession. Through the Foundation’s funding, Western Law is able to improve access to justice and other services within London and the surrounding community, and to ensure that the next generation of lawyers appreciate the serving nature of our profession.”

– Erika Chamberlain, Dean,
Western Law, Western University

Erika Chamberlain, Dean, Western Law, Western University

Western Law, Western University

“Access to Justice – or A2J – is one of Windsor Law’s two primary institutional themes. The Law Foundation of Ontario funding has been crucial in supporting our A2J outreach in Southwest Ontario and beyond. This outreach takes several forms, including coaching self-represented litigants through the National Self-Represented Litigants Project and establishing active partnerships with local First Nations in the wake of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report. Our outreach allows us to assist vulnerable people in our community while, at the same time, providing quality experiential and clinical learning opportunities for students.

Windsor-Essex is a significant gateway for refugee and immigration clients to enter Canada and also hosts a significant population of migrant workers, a precarious and underserved group who often do not have access to provincially funded settlement services. Very tangibly, the Foundation allows one of our clinics, Legal Assistance of Windsor, to have a full-time immigration and refugee lawyer. We also use the Foundation support to hire student caseworkers during the summer at a sister clinic, Community Legal Aid. These students learn client-centred and community-based lawyering during the summer and then mentor their peers during the academic year. This multiplies the effects of the Foundation funding.”

– Christopher Waters, Dean,
Windsor Law, University of Windsor

Christopher Waters, Dean, Windsor Law, University of Windsor

Windsor Law, University of Windsor

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Access to Justice Fund: Advancing access to justice across Canada


The Law Foundation of Ontario’s Access to Justice Fund (ATJF) was very active in 2016. Throughout the year, it was receiving, assessing, and approving applications for three new granting opportunities. The funding aims to support areas of great need, including the distinct legal concerns of: children and youth; consumers; Indigenous peoples; investors; racialized groups; and refugees.

Illustration of an opened lock


Better understand and protect vulnerable investors

Examples of funded projects

  • Direct legal service for individual investors at a first-of-its-kind legal clinic located at Osgoode Hall law school
  • Public legal education and information for seniors about their legal rights when it comes to investing
  • Broad range of research to explore investor vulnerabilities, including research into disciplinary action by self-regulatory bodies and the experience of low-income families with group plan RESPs

8 grants



Help address legal priorities identified by Indigenous communities, including interactions with the child protection and criminal justice systems

Examples of funded projects

  • Support the implementation of an Indigenous peoples’ court in Thunder Bay
  • Information and support for families of missing and murdered Indigenous people
  • Public legal education about the criminal justice system delivered within 28 Anishinaabe communities in Northernwestern Ontario
  • Training frontline workers to support their clients when interacting with the police
  • Indigenous peer support worker in Ottawa for Indigenous women released from custody

As of
May 1, 2017,
16 grants
approved totalling

Final funding
decisions in

2016 CALL

Help address the legal needs of or relating to: children and youth; consumers; public legal education, intake and referral; racialized groups;
and refugees.

Examples of funded projects

  • Pro bono legal services for the parents of sick children who are experiencing legal issues relating to the care of their children, such as unhealthy housing, immigration, and paid leave
  • Design of a policy framework to support the establishment of an ombudsperson to oversee payday loan complaints, disputes, and violations and the creation of a user-friendly guide that outlines the rights of payday loan users in each province
  • Online certification course for librarians about public legal information and referrals
  • Educational information for those working within the criminal justice system about the causes and consequences of wrongful convictions, with a focus on the particular vulnerabilities of Indigenous and racialized populations
  • An expanded Mock Refugee Hearing Program to help refugee claimants prepare for their hearings before the Immigration and Refugee Board

As of
May 1, 2017,
38 grants

Final funding
decisions in

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Class Proceedings Fund


The Class Proceedings Committee (the Committee) has been very busy, with the trend of hearing and funding more and more cases continuing in 2016.

We held 22 hearings and funded 17 new applications. The Class Proceedings Fund received levies of $5,961,678 and paid cost awards in favour of defendants in the amount of $528,767. The balance in the Fund at the end of 2016 was $19,861,537.

These numbers are significant yet it is ultimately the contribution to our mandate that gives the greatest return. This year the Committee was especially active with cases concerning such diverse issues as prisoners’ rights, privacy rights, employee overtime, and, at the other end of the spectrum, misrepresentations to the holders and purchasers of securities in the capital markets. Whether upholding basic rights and freedoms or the integrity of our capital markets, the Fund’s support of cases in the public interest has the potential to fundamentally affect not only the lives of the class plaintiffs but every single member of the public by helping to achieve justice, accountability, and transparency in our society’s institutions, both public and private.

Illustration of scales of justice

The increasing number of applications requires our Committee to focus on monitoring our levels of disbursement funding, assessing the risk of costs exposure in unsuccessful outcomes as well as projecting levies from successful cases. This is a complex ongoing analysis, which the Committee examines at its meetings and more intensely at our retreat.

On a personal note, I would like to thank: the members of the Committee – Paul Evraire, Scott Hutchison, Jasminka Kalajdzic, and Kim Twohig; our Counsel, Gina Papageorgiou and Legal Assistant, Linda Patki; and the Committee’s Secretary, Judy Mark. It is a great joy to work with such talented and astute people who, without exception, devote an enormous amount of time and hard work to the Committee’s activities.

Finally, I would like to give a special acknowledgement to Jasminka Kalajdzic. After six years of dedicated service (including a monthly commute from Windsor for meetings), Jasminka stepped down from the Committee. We are grateful for the many ways that Jasminka served and advanced the Committee’s work. Her commitment, hard work, and encyclopedic knowledge of class action law and procedure will be greatly missed.

Wendy Earle signature

Wendy J. Earle
Chair, Class Proceedings Committee

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2016 granting

See the full range of nonprofits and community organizations supported in 2016

2016 financial highlights