Ottawa pilot project offers free legal information, but not advice

A new centre in Ottawa that provides free bilingual legal information is up and running after receiving $1.5 million from the federal government.

A new centre in Ottawa that provides free bilingual legal information is up and running after receiving $1.5 million from the federal government.

The group behind the pilot project estimates they have enough money to run until 2018. (Hillary Johnstone/CBC)
The Ottawa Legal Information Centre, which opened its doors last week, offers free legal information and referral services, but not legal advice or representation.

"We don't represent in court, we won't evaluate a case's chances of success," said executive director Andrée-Anne Martel.

Martel says the centre will help Canadians who face legal issues but don't know what to do or can't afford to properly deal with their case.

It is offering legal information on everything from family and immigration law to tenants' rights, with the aim of helping people unfamiliar with the legal system get on an even footing.

The new centre on Albert Street is modelled after similar centres in Quebec.

Ontario Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur says the new centre will fill a void in the province.

"Let's say for a newcomer in Ontario and they have legal challenge...with immigration... it will help Ontarians to access justice a lot easier," said Meilleur.

The centre has enough funding to stay open until 2018. But the non-profit group that runs it — L’Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario — hopes to find more funding and make the centre permanent.

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