Seeing the people behind the justice system

Through Level's Dare to Dream program, Thomas gives young students an inside and inspiring view of the justice system


Advocating for the rights of young workers

Jenny and the Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre help workers understand and uphold their rights


Bringing relief and "real life" legal help to families

Jin and Pro Bono Students Canada are on-hand to help individuals prepare their family law cases


A marriage to
make Ontario's

The creation of LawConnect
delivers more efficient and
holistic legal education
and information to service
providers and the public

Message from the Board Chair

In 2015, The Law Foundation of Ontario had a busy and productive year grantmaking and building new partnerships. It was also a year of growth, and we made time to review what we do and why we do it.


We undertook a strategic planning process for 2016-2020. This included candid conversations with Board and staff and many of our stakeholders.

We looked to the past to take stock of our strengths and set our strategic directions for the future. Building on our existing expertise and relationships, we reaffirmed our goals: strengthen our grantmaking; better understand the impact of our funding; have a stronger voice on access to justice; and maximize funding.


As part of our strategic planning, we renewed our vision, mission, and guiding values. We made them simpler and, we hope, more inspiring, focussing our Board and staff around a common, bigger purpose: Putting people at the heart of justice.

Our strategic planning process reminded us that we’re all driven by the same cause. We work in law because we believe in equality and justice for everyone. Whether we work in the courtroom or the community, all of us who are connected to the Foundation are inspired to put people, and their needs, at the centre of our justice system.


Our granting activity was as busy as ever. We funded $9.6 million for 77 new and ongoing projects. With the $25.2 million to Legal Aid Ontario, we invested $34.8 million in 2015 to advance access to justice.

Thanks to the influx of new cy-près awards, we re-opened our national Access to Justice Fund. We launched new calls for grant applications in the areas of: Indigenous peoples’ legal needs; children and youth; public legal education, intake and referral; racialized groups; refugees; consumers; and investor rights. 


We continue to face the financial challenges of low interest rates, as our primary revenue comes from the interest earned on lawyers’ and paralegals’ mixed trust accounts. Interest rates and our ability to collect all interest on those accounts directly affects how much we can send to Legal Aid Ontario and use for grantmaking. We encourage lawyers and paralegals to be vigilant in ensuring that their financial institution is directing the interest on their mixed trust accounts to the Foundation.

This year we completed a project that will help us secure more revenue and reduce the reporting burden on the professions by streamlining the reporting of mixed trust accounts. We worked closely with the Law Society of Upper Canada to integrate the professions’ annual filing to make it a one-step process to report mixed trust account information to the Foundation. This project involved several process, technology, and communications changes for both organizations. The change took effect January 1, 2016.


We saw many changes at the Foundation this year. Our CEO since 2007 (and a Trustee from 1993 to 2002), Elizabeth Goldberg retired in 2015. Liz has been a trailblazer for women in the legal profession and leaves a strong and lasting legacy for The Law Foundation of Ontario.

We welcomed Ross Earnshaw to the Board of Trustees. Tanya Lee accepted the CEO role and worked with the Board in establishing our new strategic directions. Kirsti Mathers McHenry joined our strong and vital staff as the Foundation’s Director of Policy & Programs. The Class Proceedings Committee also saw a leadership change, with Wendy Earle replacing outgoing Chair Val Edwards. Val was highly respected and admired for her extraordinary commitment and tenacity, dedicating 15 years of service to the committee, 10 of those years as Chair.

And, a final leadership change is my own. This is my final message on behalf of the Foundation as I move to the role of Treasurer with the Law Society of Upper Canada. I’m very pleased Linda R. Rothstein has accepted the Chair role and I know I’m leaving the organization in very capable hands.

I’m inspired by the tremendous work of Foundation grantees, partners, Board, and staff, and what we accomplish together as we keep our hearts and minds on the issues, and the people, that matter most.

Paul Schabas signature

Paul Schabas
Chair, The Law Foundation of Ontario

2015 financial highlights


2015 financial highlights consolidated results bar chart

Granting highlights:


The Law Foundation of Ontario is committed to advancing people’s access to justice.

The phrase ‘access to justice’ can mean many things. Generally, it encompasses the promotion of equity and fairness and the elimination of barriers, including financial, linguistic, and geographical barriers. It can also apply to the way legal information, services, and systems are available, understandable, and usable. One way the Foundation describes access to justice is that it’s when people can understand the law and use it to improve their lives.

Each year, the Foundation awards millions of dollars to carefully selected grantees to create innovative projects, provide important services, and conduct ground-breaking research. Since its creation in 1974, the Foundation has funded over $258 million in grants and directed over $727 million to Legal Aid Ontario.

The Foundation makes grants to a wide range of organizations and initiatives. The majority of the activities funded fit within one, or more, of these four broad areas:





Access to Justice Fund: Advancing access to justice across Canada

The Law Foundation of Ontario created the unique and permanent Access to Justice Fund (ATJF) after receiving its first cy-près award in 2009. Since then, the Foundation has been receiving and directing cy-près awards to fund access to justice initiatives across Canada. To date, the ATJF has received 15 cy-près awards and supported more than 100 grants worth close to $15.2 million in total.

With additional cy-près awards, the ATJF can continue to develop funding calls and make grants in a variety of areas that aim to improve access to justice for the people of Canada.

In 2015 and 2016, the ATJF made calls for applications in three areas:


The legal needs of Indigenous peoples are longstanding and complex. Child protection and interaction with the criminal justice system remain areas of priority, as are additional priorities identified by Indigenous organizations and communities. This is the second round of ATJF granting in this area. It builds on the momentum and relationships developed by the Foundation, and law foundations across Canada, through previous granting.

chevronApplications continue to be accepted for this call  |  6 grants approved to date


Many Canadians invest in the market to provide needed income during retirement, save for a home, or support a child’s post-secondary education. Investing can be complex, even for those with high financial literacy. Precipitated by a condition of a cy-près award received, the ATJF is supporting projects that will provide information and resources to help Canadians understand the risks and protect their rights as they navigate the often challenging investment landscape.

chevron14 Letters of Intent received  |  8 grants approved


Different populations and communities have different access to justice needs, especially populations that are more vulnerable or have traditionally been marginalized. A broader call for applications was made for projects that have the potential to bring real improvements to the following groups and priority areas:

  • Children and youth
  • Consumers
  • Racialized groups
  • Refugees
  • Public legal education, intake, and referral

chevron162 Letters of Intent received  |  Funding decisions in process

Below: Chippewas of Rama First Nation administrative office, Rama, Ontario

Indigenous art wall mural in Rama, Ontario showing an Elder, black bear, and an eagle

Class Proceedings Fund


In June 2015, Valerie Edwards, the Chair of the Class Proceedings Committee (CPC) stepped down after 15 years of service and I became the new Chair.

It has been a profound honour to have worked with Valerie. Her leadership was thoughtful, proactive, and expertly balanced the public interest and fiscal responsibility. I hope very much to continue the same excellent stewardship which Valerie and all past Chairs of the Committee have shown.

The number of applications received by the Class Proceedings Fund (CPF) in 2015 was slightly lower than in 2014 but, in general, consistent with the trend of more and more applications being made to the CPC over the past decade. Funding awards in 2015 were much higher than in past years, largely as a result of significant expenditure on expert reports in funded cases. Cases certified and settled were also lower than in the past several years; however, this is likely due to timing and the usual ebb and flow of how the cases proceed. Costs paid to defendants in 2015 ($676,520) were moderately higher than in 2014, ($258,750) but still much lower than in 2012 when the CPC paid a record $2,916,515 in costs to defendants.

We continue to monitor the implications of growing numbers of applications, the levels of disbursement funding required for these cases, as well as projected successful versus unsuccessful outcomes to ensure the sustainability of the CPF.

In the summer of 2016 we will be holding a retreat with a specific focus on risk management. Our goal is to further improve our processes and procedures so that we can ensure that the important work of the CPC will continue.

As the new Chair of the CPC, I am pleased and honoured to work with the members of the Committee — Paul Evraire, Jasminka Kalajdzic, Kim Twohig, and Scott Hutchison — and our Counsel, Gina Papageorgiou and Legal Assistant Linda Patki. I could not wish to work with a more hardworking, experienced, and capable team who are so deeply committed to the work of the CPC and its goals. I also wish to make a special mention of the Committee’s Secretary, Judy Mark, who ensures that the Committee is always up-to-date with the CPF’s most current financial information. Her work is and has always been critical to the CPC’s success and is greatly appreciated.

Wendy Earle signature

Wendy Earle
Chair, Class Proceedings Committee

Crowd of people on a city street

2015 granting


Community Legal Education Ontario
Evolving Legal Services Research Project – Phase Two: $263,050

Law Society of Nunavut
Public Legal Education of Nunavut: $100,000

Lifeline Syria
Pro Bono Legal Support Program for Syrian Refugee Sponsors: $89,400

Connecting Communities

Communication Disabilities Access Canada
Increasing Access to Legal Information for People with Speech and Language Disabilities: $50,000

Interfaith Initiatives for Civic Engagement
The Spirit of the Law: Educating the Faith Sector on Poverty Law: $50,000

People to People Aid Organization (Canada)
Supporting our Community: Our Health Our Laws: $43,422

Port Colborne Association for Resource Extension
No Longer the Norm: A Legal Information Training Project on Sexting and Cyberbullying: $48,750

Sexual Assault Centre London
Human Trafficking: Increasing our Community’s Capacity to Respond Through Legal Education: $43,140

The Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres
Provincial Aboriginal Human Rights Initiative: $24,850

Total Access to Justice Fund: $712,612


Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario
Journée du droit 2016: $14,000

Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted
Program Activities 2016: $230,000

Black Law Students’ Association of Canada
25th Annual National Conference: $15,000

Canadian Civil Liberties Education Trust
Program Activities 2016: $221,100

Connecting Articling Fellowship 2016-2017
Algoma Community Legal Clinic: $54,625

Community Advocacy & Legal Centre: $54,625
Keewaytinok Native Legal Services: $58,175
Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic: $54,625
South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario: $54,625
The Legal Clinic: $54,625

Connecting Articling Fellowship 2017-2018
Algoma Community Legal Clinic: $60,000

Community Advocacy & Legal Centre: $60,000
Keewaytinok Native Legal Services: $60,000
Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic: $60,000
South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario: $60,000
The Legal Clinic: $60,000

Community Leadership in Justice Fellowship
Oil by Rail: Regulatory Failure and Justice for the People of Lac-Mégantic

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: $50,000
University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, Common Law Section: $15,000

Community Legal Education Ontario
CLEO Centre for Research and Innovation 2016-2017: $95,000

Your Legal Rights 2015-2016: $162,240
Connecting Communities Secretariat: $114,000

Community Living Ontario
Community Living Ontario Wills and Estate Planning Guide: $15,000

Conestoga College
Ontario College Libraries: QuickLaw for 14 college libraries that have accredited 
paralegal programs: $100,000

Criminal Lawyers’ Association
Young Lawyers Conference, October 2015: $50,000

The Mark J. Sandler Professional Development Bursary for Recent Call Lawyers: $10,000

FCJ Refugee Centre
Precarious Migrant Protection and Support Program: $50,000

John Howard Society of Ontario
On the Record: A Legal Educational Workshop Series on Police Record Checks in Ontario: $5,000

King’s University College, Western University
Views of the Child Reports in Ontario: $99,790

Lanark County Community Justice Program Inc.
Promising Young People: $15,000

Law Commission of Ontario
Program Activities 2015-2016: $550,000

Law in Action Within Schools
Program Activities 2016-2017: $100,000

Summer Job Program 2016: $15,000

Law School Comprehensive Grants 2016-2017
Lakehead University, Faculty of Law: $153,000

Osgoode Hall Law School: $306,000
Queen’s University, Faculty of Law: $254,000
University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section: $153,000
University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, Common Law Section: $306,000
University of Toronto, Faculty of Law: $254,000
University of Windsor, Faculty of Law: $254,000
Western University, Faculty of Law: $254,000

Dare to Dream: $10,000

Luke’s Place Support and Resource Centre for Women and Children
Providing Virtual Family Law Services to Survivors of Violence Against Women: $95,000

Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support
LGBTQ Project: $15,000

Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children
Program Activities 2015-2016: $293,575

Native Law Centre
Program Activities 2016-2017: $20,000

Ontario Justice Education Network
Program Activities 2015-2016: $850,000

Increasing OJEN’s Administrative Capacity through a CMS and CRM Upgrade: $15,000

The Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History
Program Activities 2016: $178,185

Pro Bono Ontario
Program Activities 2016: $800,000

Pro Bono Students Canada
Strengthening Governance, Phase 2: $9,120

Program Activities 2015-2016: $541,396

Public Interest Articling Fellowships 2016-2017
Amnesty International Canada: $69,500

Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted: $69,500
Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic: $69,500
Canadian Centre for International Justice: $69,500
Canadian Civil Liberties Association: $69,500
Peacebuilders International: $69,500
Public Interest Advocacy Centre: $69,500

Reach Canada
Accessibility for Persons with Sight and Hearing Impairments: $15,000

Roy & Ria McMurtry Endowment Fund 2015-2016
Lakehead University, Faculty of Law: $5,000

Second Chance Scholarship Foundation Inc.: $5,000

Schizophrenia Society of Ontario
Justice and Mental Health Program: Increasing the Capacity of SSO’s

Designated Representative Service: $62,105

SKETCH Working Arts for Street-Involved and Homeless Youth
Acting OUT-Street Law Smarts: $100,000

South Ottawa Community Legal Services
Connecting Region – Connecting Ottawa $256,560

The Dream Team & Houselink Community Homes
Tenants’ Rights Workshops: $15,000

The Law Society of Upper Canada
The Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG): $400,000

University of Ottawa, School of Information Studies
Mapping the Front End: Legal Information Seeking Practices: $65,008

Workers’ Action Centre
Expanding the Dialogue: Public Education and Capacity Building on

Precarious Employment and Low-Waged Work: $87,424

Total Regular Granting $8,876,303

TOTAL 2015 GRANTING $9,588,915