Legal Aid

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What cases will Legal Aid assist with?

    If you qualify, Legal Aid can assist with:

      • Family issues such as divorce, parenting arrangements, and support
      • Child protection matters
      • Adult and youth criminal matters
      • Disputes involving disability benefits, social assistance, and workers compensation
      • Public interest cases involving poverty, consumer, environmental, Aboriginal, and Charter of Rights challenges.
  • How do I qualify for Legal Aid?

    Legal Aid makes a decision by looking at your financial situation and the type of legal case that you have. Your financial situation includes how much money you make, how many people are in your family, and what assets and debts you have. If you want a separation or divorce, Legal Aid will look at your income separate from your partner’s income.

  • What proof of earnings should I include in my income?

    If you work as an employee, you should include a pay stub or letter from your employer. This letter should state where you work, the date you started, and your current salary. For other sources of income, you should include additional documentation:

      • If you are on Employment Insurance (EI):
        • An Employment Insurance Commission stub, or
        • A pension or worker’s compensation stub, statement, or photocopy of your last cheque, or
        • Proof of enrollment in an EI-sponsored training course.
      • If you are receiving assistance (EIA), tell Legal Aid which office serves you.
      • If you are self-employed, include your last income tax return.
  • Is there a charge for the Legal Aid application?

    There is usually a $25 fee for applying to Legal Aid. In certain circumstance, such as if you are on social assistance (EIA), the fee can be waived.

  • What if I have assets, but no access to them?

    Legal Aid may still appoint a lawyer for you but they may require you to sign a direction to pay. This means that if you later get a settlement of your assets, you will have to pay back Legal Aid with some of this money. If you own property, Legal Aid may wish to place a lien on that property. A lien means that fees will be paid if and when the property is dealt with in the future.

  • Are there different types of financial assistance through Legal Aid?

    Legal Aid may pay for your legal costs in full, or if you are financially able to pay for your legal fees at Legal Aid rates, they may provide services through the Agreement to Pay (ATP) program. The ATP program will require you to make an initial payment as well as interest-free monthly payments until your fees are paid. As long as you keep making your monthly payments, Legal Aid will continue to pay your lawyer fees.

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  • Can I ask for a change of lawyers through Legal Aid?

    If you have a good reason for the change Legal Aid will usually allow one change of lawyer. Any requests for an additional change of counsel are only granted in exceptional circumstances.

  • What happens if I need a lawyer right away through Legal Aid?

    If you are dealing with a lawyer in private practice and there is not enough time to wait for the Legal Aid Certificate, your lawyer can call Legal Aid, explain the problem and get emergency approval right away if you qualify. If you don’t have a lawyer and can’t afford one, call Legal Aid and tell them that you have an urgent problem. Legal Aid can often appoint a lawyer for you quickly in emergency situations.

  • How do I contact Legal Aid?

    In Winnipeg, you can apply for Legal Aid at their Application Centre at 100 – 287 Broadway Ave. The hours are:

    • Mondays & Tuesdays – 12:30 to 4:00 pm
    • Wednesdays & Thursdays – 1:30 to 4:00 pm
    • Phone:  (204) 985-8500 or 1-800-261-2960

    Legal Aid also has offices outside of Winnipeg you can contact by phone:

    • Brandon – 1-800-876-7326 or (204) 729-3484
    • Dauphin – 1-877-622-4660 or (204) 622-4666
    • The Pas – 1-855-775-2397 or (204) 627-4837
    • Thompson – 1-855-444-4665 or (204) 677-1224

    Other Legal Aid offices:

    • Public Interest Law Centre
      • 200 – 393 Portage Ave.
      • Winnipeg, MB  R3B 3H6
      • Phone:  (204) 985-8540 or 1-800-261-2960
    • University of Manitoba Community Law Centre
      • Faculty of Law – 101 Robson Hall (basement)
      • University of Manitoba
      • Winnipeg, R3T 2N2
      • Phone:  (204) 985-5206
  • Is there an emergency Legal Aid number if I’ve been arrested?

    Legal Aid has lawyers on call 24 hours a day. If you have been arrested, let the police know you wish to speak with a Legal Aid lawyer and they will put you in touch.

  • How do I find out whether my application for Legal Aid has been approved?

    It usually takes about 10 business days for Legal Aid to process your application. To check on the status of your application you can contact the Application Centre where you applied:

    • Winnipeg: (204) 985-8500 or 1-800-261-2960
    • Brandon: 1-800-876-7326 or (204) 729-3484
    • Dauphin: 1-877-622-4660 or (204) 622-4666
    • The Pas: 1-855-775-2397 or (204) 627-4837
    • Thompson: 1-855-444-4665 or (204) 677-1224
  • Legal Aid turned down my application. Can I appeal?

    Yes, you can appeal the decision to the Executive Director. An appeal form will be sent to you with the Notice of Rejection. The appeal must be submitted within 30 days of when you receive the Notice of Rejection in the mail. The appeal form should be sent to:

    • Executive Director
    • Legal Aid Manitoba
    • 4th Floor – 287 Broadway Ave.
    • Winnipeg MB  R3C 0R9

    Say why you think the decision was wrong. The Executive Director will consider your reasons and will review your file. He will either approve Legal Aid or not. If he refuses your appeal, he will send you a letter telling you why. The Executive Director will make a decision on your appeal within 5 working days, unless he needs further information from you.

  • Can I appeal the decision of the Executive Director of Legal Aid?

    If the Executive Director refuses your appeal, you can appeal his decision to Legal Aid’s Appeal Committee. You can appeal by filling in the form that came with the Executive Director’s refusal, or, by writing a letter and sending it to:

    • Legal Aid Management Council Appeal Committee
    • 4th Floor – 287 Broadway Ave.
    • Winnipeg MB R3C 0R9

    In your Appeal letter, say why you think the decision was wrong. The Appeal Committee will consider your reasons and will review your file. The Appeal Committee will then make its decision. You will receive a letter notifying you about the Appeal Committee’s decision. The Appeal Committee’s decision is final. There are no further appeals.

  • Legal Aid told me that I qualify financially, but the criminal offence I’ve been charged with is a summary offence with no possibility of jail time. I cannot afford a lawyer. Do I have any other options?

    You can contact the University of Manitoba Law Centre at:

    • Faculty of Law – 101 Robson Hall (basement)
    • University of Manitoba
    • Winnipeg MB R3T 2N2
    • Phone: 204-985-5206
  • Will Legal Aid force me to sell my property?

    If you financially qualify but have a home, Legal Aid may request that you sign a Charge on Land. Legal Aid can put a lien on your property for the amount of legal fees that you incur. You can make payment arrangements with Legal Aid and once you finish the payments, the lien will be removed. Legal Aid will not force you to sell your home.

  • I have gone through Legal Aid for a separation, but now my partner and I are back together. Will I have a hard time getting Legal Aid again?

    In this situation, Legal Aid usually agrees to appoint a lawyer for new legal proceedings, if you still qualify. If this has happened several times, it may be difficult to get another lawyer from Legal Aid. Legal Aid will look at each situation individually. If you are in doubt, apply for Legal Aid and they will make a decision.

  • I am low income and need a will drafted. Am I eligible for Legal Aid?

    Legal Aid does not cover wills and estates and other solicitor transactions such as real estate and corporate/commercial matters. If you are a senior you can contact Age & Opportunity Services for help to have a will, power of attorney or health care directive drafted for a reasonable fee.

  • Will Legal Aid help me sue someone for money I am owed?

    Civil litigation matters are not covered by Legal Aid. You may have to try and find a lawyer who will take the matter on a contingency basis if you do not have sufficient funds to cover the ongoing cost for that lawyer’s time. Contingency agreements mean that the lawyer will be paid for time spent on the case if the outcome is in your favour through a settlement or judgment. Actual expenses, such as filing fees and documentary matters must still be paid by you.