Policy on public legal education and information (PLEI) in Canada
The Canadian Department of Justice has championed the benefits of public legal education and information since the mid 1980’s. The Department believes that PLEI is the bridge between the justice system and its citizens, saying ‘PLEI activities enhance access to justice by informing and educating people about Canada’s law and justice system’.
In November 2009, the Department adopted a new policy on PLEI. The policy is based on the Department's core mandate ‘to ensure that Canada's justice system is accessible, efficient and fair.’ It includes five principles that broadly describe how to develop and deliver PLEI activities and materials.
Read about the five principles: Department of Justice policy on public legal education and information (46 KB)
The following definition of PLEI was also provided in the Department’s Access to Agreement:
‘PLEI is an activity that seeks in a systematic way to provide people with the opportunity to obtain information about the law and the justice system in a form that is timely and appropriate to their needs, but does not include advocacy or representation on behalf of individuals, nor the provision of legal advice’.
This definition is published on the Department of Justice's website.
Access to Justice and PLEI in Canada
The Department of Justice has a leadership role in ensuring that all Canadians have access to justice. The Department believes that ‘PLEI improves access to justice by giving the public the information that is needed to understand the law, how to deal with the legal issues that affect their lives and how to use the opportunities and the protections offered by the legal system’.
To carry out this role, the Department develops and delivers PLEI materials and activities. This includes ongoing funding to support a network of PLEI providers in each of its thirteen provinces and territories, as well as project funding to non-governmental organisation to develop and deliver information activities. The Department also develops its own in-house materials about the justice system and evolving laws.
Projects and activities includes electronic access to legal information, hard copy and audio-visual materials about specific legal issues, conferences and workshops, school-based law courses, interactive learning modules, popular theatre and law lines staffed by people who provide legal information.
Canada's PLEI Network
The following organisations receive funding from the Department of Justice to carry out PLEI activities:
Community Legal Education Association of Manitoba
Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO)
Community Legal Information Association of Prince Edward Island (PEI)
Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia
Legal Services Board of the Northwest Territories
People’s Law School (British Columbia)
Public Legal Education and Information in Nunavut
Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick
Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan
Public Legal Education Network of Alberta
Public Legal Information Association of Newfoundland
Yukon Public Legal Education Association