The Ontario Civil Legal Needs Project: A Comparative Analysis of the 2009 Survey Data

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Civil Legal Needs, Legal Problems, Access to Justice, Ontario Civil Legal Needs Project (OCLNP), Canada, Comparative Research


Several countries have followed the lead of British researchers since the late 1990s by using civil legal needs surveys to characterize the types of legal problems that individuals confront, their responses to these events in terms of advice-seeking behaviour, and the demographic traits and socio-economic conditions that are likely to predict patterns of problem and response. A shared approach to conducting and analysing these surveys has emerged – first among the Commonwealth jurisdictions and more recently in countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Japan, and China. The comparative results of these studies are now beginning to tell an increasingly nuanced story about the prevalence and consequences of legal problems and about the nature of civil justice systems as a whole. In a similar vein of research, the Ontario Civil Legal Needs Project (OCLNP) undertook a survey of low and middle income Ontarians in 2009, and released a report of its findings, Listening to Ontarians, in May 2010.1 Our paper provides a further analysis of the OCLNP survey’s quantitative results and situates these in the context of the international research to date.


A 2018 edition of this book with the same chapter is available online via NovaNet and EBSCO at