Northern Transformation Project
There are 11 Community Legal Clinics in the Northern Region of Ontario, funded by Legal Aid Ontario. These clinics have been working to find additional ways to work collaboratively with each other, and improve services and support to their clients and communities. In January of 2014, these clinics applied to Legal Aid Ontario for funds to work on a Northern Region Transformation Project. Legal Aid Ontario is funding this project, along with other community legal clinic projects around the Province, to enhance the provision of community legal clinic services, and find administrative savings that can be re-invested into service delivery. The eleven Northern Clinics entered into a Memorandum of Understanding amongst ourselves, and entered into both a Project Funding Agreement and a Framework Agreement with Legal Aid Ontario.
The Northern Clinics retained a consultant, the Social Planning Council of Sudbury, to conduct a needs assessment. This process took place over late 2014 and the first half of 2015. Similar needs assessments were conducted independently in the Southwest and Central/East regions of the province. After detailed research and investigation, including visits to each Northern Clinic, the consultant provided us with our needs assessment report and recommendations in the summer of 2015.
We have now begun the implementation phase of the Northern Region Transformation Project. The Northern Clinics are working together to review the recommendations, set priorities for implementing them, and seek additional financial resources where required.
In a related development, on October 29, 2015, Legal Aid Ontario advised us of a new fund, the Provincial Fund to Expand Clinic Law Services. This fund “consolidates clinic law expansion funding programs into a single fund to help clinics serve more clients, improve access to justice and client services, and build systemic capacity.” The Northern Clinics will be applying to this fund to enable us to implement some of the recommendations from our needs assessment report that will require ongoing funding. It is likely that we will seek one-time funding from other sources as well.
The Northern Region Working Group has decided to post the project documents on the website of the Northwest Community Legal Clinic, as this website can be accessed by board and staff members of all of the clinics involved, as well as by others who are interested in the project. The foundation documents of the project are posted, and project updates to Legal Aid Ontario will be posted as they are available.
Monthly Project Status Reports
Quarterly Project Status Reports