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  1. In 2007/2008, $670 million was spent on providing legal aid services in 10 provinces and territories. 1  This represents over $20 for every person living in these jurisdictions.
  2. In the last five years, legal aid spending after inflation has decreased just as many times as it has increased, but on average, it has risen about 1% per year. Compared to the previous year, spending in 2007/2008 was virtually unchanged, up by less than one-half of one percent.
  3. Cases involving criminal matters accounted for slightly more than half of direct legal aid expenditures. Quebec and Ontario were the only two provinces to spend more on civil matters than criminal matters. The Quebec legal aid plan directed 57% of its spending to civil matters, while in Ontario it was 52%. Elsewhere, the proportion of direct expenditures on civil matters ranged from 26% in Saskatchewan to 46% in New Brunswick.
  4. Legal aid in Canada is funded primarily by governments, both provincial/territorial and federal. In 2007/2008, legal aid plan revenues reached $716 million and government funding accounted for 84% of this amount. The proportion covered by governments has declined gradually from 90% five years earlier. Client contributions and cost recoveries, contributions from the legal profession, and other income, including interest and law foundation grants, are the other main funding sources.
  5. Provincial and territorial governments, which directly fund both criminal and civil legal aid, contributed $495 million in legal aid funding in 2007/2008. This was up 3% from the previous year, after inflation. Federal government funding, which goes toward the cost of criminal legal aid, increased for the first time in seven years in 2007/2008, reaching $111 million. This increase was the result of a measure in the Federal Budget of 2007, which rolled interim funding to the provinces into the annual federal base allocation for criminal legal aid.
  6. About 747,800 applications for legal assistance were received by legal aid plans in the 10 reporting provinces and territories. This represented a decline in applications of 1% and was a continuation of a six-year downward trend. The decline occurred for both criminal and civil legal aid applications.
  7. There were 472,200 applications approved for full legal aid service in 2007/2008, a figure that was virtually unchanged from the previous year. Approved applications for criminal matters increased by 2%, while those for civil matters declined by an equal amount. Criminal matters accounted for over half (56%) of approved applications.
  8. In all provinces and territories, legal aid services are provided by both private and legal aid plan lawyers. In 2007/2008, just over 11,000 lawyers provided such services in the reporting jurisdictions. Almost nine out of ten were private sector lawyers.