The Association of Legal Aid Plans of Canada recognizes the importance of ensuring that essential legal services are available to those in need in circumstances where a person resides in a different province / territory than the one in which legal assistance is needed (“reciprocity”). If you require legal aid services in a different province/territory than the one in which legal assistance is needed please contact the legal aid plan where your matter is taking place.
ASSOCIATION OF LEGAL AID PLANS OF CANADA PROVINCIAL / TERRITORIAL RECIPROCITY AGREEMENT IN CIVIL CASES AND CRIMINAL CODE MATTER: 15‑Year Reviews of Parole Eligibility
- The Association of Legal Aid Plans of Canada and its member plans recognize the importance of ensuring that essential legal services are available to those in need in circumstances where a person resides in a different province / territory than the one in which legal assistance is needed.
- The Association and its members recognize that each plan should arrange within its own legislative mandate, funding and budget to deal with applicants from throughout Canada and serve these clients consistent with how it deals with and serves its own resident applicants and clients.
- The Association and its members acknowledge that many technological changes have taken place since the original Reciprocity Agreement was drafted in 1997, which now enable plans to deal more easily with applicants from throughout Canada and the world.
- The members acknowledge that for nearly 20 years, the Reciprocity Agreement has provided a reasonable foundation for supporting non‑residents seeking legal aid, premised on the applicant’s home jurisdiction’s Plan assessing financial eligibility based on its criteria and the receiving jurisdiction’s Plan assessing scope / range of service based on its criteria.
- However, it is also acknowledged that the original Reciprocity Agreement no longer works for the benefit of clients or the plans and, therefore, the plans have entered this new Agreement.
- Applicant: A person seeking legal aid assistance for a matter in a province / territory other than the one in which she / he resides.
- Application Fee: A fee charged to an applicant by a Plan, regardless of financial eligibility, as a pre‑condition to making an application for legal aid assistance.
- Contribution: Any payment an applicant is required to make to a Plan in order to meet that Plan’s financial eligibility criteria.
- Province / Territory of Residence: The province / territory in which the applicant for legal aid services actually resides, irrespective of the applicant’s citizenship or immigration status.
- Referring Plan: The organization responsible for the provision of legal aid services in a province / territory of residence of an applicant.
- Receiving Province / Territory: The province / territory where the applicant has a court proceeding or other legal matter for which she / he is seeking legal aid assistance.
- Receiving Plan: The organization responsible for the provision of legal aid services in a province / territory receiving an application.
- Financial Assessment: Process whereby a Plan determines whether an application for legal aid assistance meets financial criteria pursuant to that Plan’s legislation and policies, to enable that Plan to provide legal assistance to the applicant.
- Scope / Range of Service Assessment: Process whereby a Plan determines whether an application for legal aid assistance is within the scope / range of service pursuant to that Plan’s legislation and policies, to enable that Plan to provide legal assistance to the applicant.
- Merit Assessment: Process whereby a Plan determines whether an application for legal aid assistance has sufficient merit, by which that Plan decides whether, in accordance with the various laws applicable to the facts, it is appropriate to provide legal assistance to the applicant.
- The initial request for legal aid may be made by the applicant to the Plan in the applicant’s province / territory of residence. The application will then be forwarded to the receiving Plan which will undertake financial and scope / range of service assessments and a merit assessment if necessary, in accordance with that Plan’s legislation, policies and procedures.
- Notwithstanding paragraph 16, the initial application for legal aid may be made by an applicant from another jurisdiction directly to the receiving Plan. The receiving Plan may accept such an application, in which case the receiving Plan will undertake financial and scope / range of service assessments and a merit assessment if necessary, in accordance with that Plan’s legislation, policies and procedures. This Agreement covers the rights and responsibilities of that applicant and that Plan, as if the applicant was referred by another Plan.
- If the receiving Plan declines to accept a direct application, it will inform the applicant that an application may be made to the Plan in her / his province / territory of residence. In this case, the provisions of paragraph 16 apply.
- Where a province / territory of residence has imposed an application fee that province / territory may choose to require that the fee be paid by its own residents on outgoing reciprocity requests. No application fee to the receiving province shall be required of an applicant from another province / territory on an incoming reciprocal application. However, an application fee may be required of an applicant from another jurisdiction making an initial application directly to the receiving Plan. Nothing in this agreement restricts a receiving province from requiring a contribution from an applicant who is referred from another Plan or who applies directly to the receiving province.
- Once a request is made (paragraph 16) or a direct application is made (paragraph 17), the applicant becomes subject to the Legal Aid legislation, regulations and policies in effect in the receiving province / territory.
- A receiving Plan may, in its sole discretion:
- provide an applicant who becomes a client with the same level of service as provided to residents of the receiving province / territory on a similar matter; or
- limit the service provided to an applicant who becomes a client to the level of service which a resident of the receiving province / territory would receive in the referring province on a similar matter.
- No receiving Plan shall be obligated to provide to a client services greater than those which would be provided to a resident of its province / territory in a similar matter.
- Notwithstanding paragraphs 21 (a) and (b), should any other party to the matter for which an applicant is seeking legal aid in the receiving province / territory be in receipt of legal services from the receiving province, then the services provided to the applicant who becomes a client shall be the same as those provided to residents of the receiving province / territory.
- A receiving Plan may, in its sole discretion:
- The referring Plan will decide, according to the best interests of its client / applicant, whether to make use of any inter‑provincial / territorial provisional process, such as the Interprovincial Support Order process, or, where the receiving province / territory provides service in such cases, to refer the case to the receiving Plan.
- Travel and accommodation expenses incurred by a client who is requested to appear before a court sitting in a province / territory other than her / his province / territory of residence shall not be reimbursed by either Plan.
- Provincial / territorial plans shall not bill each other for services rendered during the terms of the original and present Agreements or on matters that continue after the respective terms of each Agreement.
- Each provincial / territorial Plan shall designate a coordinator with authority to administer this Agreement and to delegate her / his responsibilities at the regional level.
- The Association of Legal Aid Plans of Canada shall establish a standing Reciprocity Committee of which a provincial / territorial Executive Director or equivalent head of plan shall be the Chairperson as chosen or elected by the plans.
- The Chairperson shall have the power to add up to 3 additional members and shall call a meeting of plans to consider the substance and administration of this Agreement not less than once every two years.
- Attached as Schedule A to and forming part of this Agreement is a list of administrative procedures.
- No reciprocal arrangement is available in criminal matters, except for Criminal Code 15‑Year Reviews of Parole Eligibility matters, as described in Schedule B.
- Nothing in this Agreement prevents or limits plans from adopting other reciprocal programs between or among individual plans, provided such a program does not detract from or interfere with this Agreement.
- Any disputes under this Agreement arising from issues related to substantive matters, if not resolved by negotiation, must be made in writing to the Reciprocity Committee, for decision by majority thereof, before litigation may be commenced and for any disputes arising from issues related to administrative matters, if not resolved by negotiation, must be made in writing to the Reciprocity Committee, for final decision by majority.
- Time is of the essence of this Agreement.
- This Agreement commences for all plans on the date the last Plan of the thirteen plans signs and dates this Agreement. However, in case of undue delay, this Agreement commences no later than July 1, 2018 for those plans having signed prior to such date. Other plans may be added after they sign this Agreement.
SCHEDULE A–List of Administrative Matters
- Under the Reciprocity Agreement, requests for the provision of legal services by a Referring Plan shall be made in the standard form, as amended from time to time.The form should be completed fully and should be accompanied by all documents relevant to the service to be provided.
- Where a reciprocal service is requested and a time limit of less than two weeks is involved the initial contact shall be made by phone.
- The name, address and telephone number of the staff person with knowledge of the matter in the referring plan shall be noted on the standard form.
- Each Plan will designate a coordinator responsible for reciprocal matters in each province / territory, together with their respective substitutes. Where a change of personnel occurs, the Plan shall immediately notify all other Plans.
- The referring Plan will, at the request of the receiving Plan, arrange for counsel in the province / territory of residence to facilitate proceedings. This term applies to both matters arising from successful applications made directly by an applicant to a receiving Plan and matters referred between Plans.
- Upon receipt of a reciprocal request, the receiving Plan shall return forthwith a copy of its instruction, referral or other action letter to the referring Plan, noting on it the name, address, and telephone number of the person with continuing administrative responsibility.
- Where a change in scope / range of service (coverage) occurs, the Plan making the change shall immediately notify all other Plans.
- Reciprocal requests for examinations for discovery shall be accompanied by an explanation of the information which is required and the purpose for which it is required.
- A receiving Plan shall pay for disbursements relating to services provided.
- A referring Plan shall advise the receiving Plan of any information coming to its attention that suggests that an applicant’s financial circumstances may have changed and could affect her / his financial eligibility.
SCHEDULE B–Criminal Code 15‑Year Reviews of Parole Eligibility
- The plan in the province of incarceration that receives the original application or request for services from an inmate will send the request or application immediately to the province / territory where the hearing will be held (which is the province / territory where the inmate was originally convicted and sentenced for the parole ineligibility term under review).
- The plan in the province / territory where the hearing will be held will, according to its coverage policy, provide counsel within a reasonable time.
- The lawyer provided by the plan in the province / territory where the hearing will be held will be lead counsel. The plan in the province / territory where the hearing will be held will, through its lead counsel, direct and be responsible for disbursements incurred for assessments and testing, including any transportation costs.
- The plan in the province / territory where the hearing will be held will request that the plan in the province / territory where the inmate is currently incarcerated and any other province / territory where the inmate may also have been incarcerated provide a lawyer to assist lead counsel in preparation necessary in such province / territory.
- It is anticipated that the following responsibilities will be those of the lead counsel:
- drafting the application for judicial review;
- drafting the inmate’s affidavit with the assistance of the lawyer provided in the province / territory of incarceration who will have access directly to the inmate and to information contained in the inmate’s file;
- determining what assessments and testing should be done;
- determining with the assistance of counsel in the province / territory of incarceration a list of witnesses and
- preparing for and conducting the hearing.