Ontario to offer free legal advice to sex assault victims in select cities
Community Safety Minister Yasir Naqvi pictured on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, June 28, 2016 11:50AM EDT
TORONTO -- Ontario has launched a pilot program to offer free legal advice to survivors of sexual assault.
Starting on Tuesday, people in Toronto, Ottawa and Thunder Bay who were sexually assaulted in the province can access up to four hours of free, confidential advice from a lawyer -- over the phone or in person.
The free legal services will be available to both women and men who are at least 16 years old, regardless of how much time has passed since the incident.
The pilot project is expected to run until March 2018.
The lawyers involved in the free advice program will not provide legal representation or speak for the client in court, but they may advise sexual assault survivors to speak to a lawyer who can represent them.
The government says one in three women and one in six men experience some form of sexual assault in their lives.
Attorney General Yasir Naqvi says offering sexual assault survivors free legal advice "is key to helping them make decisions about what is best for them as they move forward."
Eligible men and women can access the free legal advice by filling out and submitting a voucher request form online (at ontario.ca/legaladvice).
In addition, women living in the Toronto also have the option to access the program directly through the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic.