Ontario is piloting a new program that will give survivors of sexual assault access to free legal advice, regardless of how much time has passed since the incident.
Starting today, survivors of sexual assault living in the City of Toronto, the City of Ottawa, and the District of Thunder Bay will be able to receive up to four hours of free, confidential advice from a lawyer. The legal advice may be provided over the phone or in person.
Eligible female and male survivors can access the program by filling out and submitting a voucher request form, available at ontario.ca/legaladvice. Women living in the City of Toronto also have the option to access the program directly through the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic.
Helping ensure survivors of sexual assault are informed and supported is part of It’s Never Okay– Ontario’s Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment. The plan is helping change attitudes, improve supports for survivors and make workplaces and campuses safer and more responsive to complaints about sexual violence and harassment.
- The pilot is expected to run until March 2018. During that time, the province will assess the effectiveness of the program and determine its next steps.
- Services provided under the program are available to both women and men who are at least 16 years of age and the assault must have occurred in Ontario.
- Through the program, eligible survivors can choose from a roster of lawyers to provide legal advice. Although these lawyers will not provide legal representation (e.g. speak for the client in court), they may advise a client to speak to a lawyer who can represent them.
- Survivors of sexual assault in any of the pilot sites can get information about the program in multiple languages through the toll-free, 24/7 phone line: 1-855-226-3904.
- One in three women and one in six men experience some form of sexual assault in their lives.