Ottawa, January 22, 2015 – About a hundred partners from the justice sector, the government and the community were gathered this evening to witness the official launch of the Ontario Legal Information Centre (the Centre).

Open to the public since January 15, 2015, the Centre’s mandate is to provide free legal information and referral services on a confidential basis, with or without an appointment, to residents of the Ottawa region and its surrounding areas. The Centre, which is located in downtown Ottawa near the Courthouse, offers services in French and English. In collaboration with numerous legal, government and community organizations, it leverages local resources in order to steer people toward the appropriate resources.

By informing and guiding individuals, the Centre aims to become a concrete answer to the complex issue of access to justice. The Centre’s mandate is in keeping with numerous reports published over the past years on access to justice at the provincial and national levels. In addition, while the Centre offers services in both official languages, the working language remains French, thus encouraging the active offer of services in French to the francophone population.

Three distinguished guests were invited to speak during the official launch of the Centre, held tonight, namely:

  • The Honourable Mr. Justice Thomas A. Cromwell of the Supreme Court of Canada
  • The Honourable Madeleine Meilleur, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs
  • Mr. Michel Francoeur, Director and General Counsel of the Office of Francophonie, part of the Department of Justice Canada's Justice in Official Languages and Legal Dualism Section

“The Ottawa Legal Information Centre is a concrete answer to recommendations expressed in key reports published over the past few years by many stakeholders in the justice system, both at the provincial and national levels, on the subject of access to justice, states Mr. François Baril, President of the AJEFO. By providing individuals with legal information and steering them towards the appropriate services, the Centre strives to reduce delays and penalties associated to the use of the judicial system, while encouraging the active offer of services in French.”

The Centre is an initiative of the Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario (AJEFO), a non-profit organization that has been dedicated for over 30 years to improving access to justice in French in order to ensure equal access to justice in both official languages. The AJEFO raises awareness, and informs and educates legal professionals and the general public on their right to obtain legal services in the official language of their choice. “The AJEFO’s expertise in the development of simplified legal content, its experience in managing large-scale projects, and its solid network of diversified partners, make it an obvious choice to take charge of this project and ensure its success”, adds François Baril.

The Ottawa Legal Information Centre was made possible thanks to the financial contribution of the Department of Justice Canada through the Access to Justice in Both Official Languages Support Fund, an initiative of the Roadmap for Canada’s Official Languages 2013-2018: Education, Immigration, Communities.