In October 1980, our non-profit community legal clinic was first funded by the Ontario Legal Aid Plan (now known as “Legal Aid Ontario” or LAO).
The clinic opened its doors to the public in December 1980. It was first known as Hastings and Prince Edward Legal Services (HPELS) to reflect its geographic service area.
When the clinic was incorporated in April 1981, its objects were to:
- operate a full-service law office
- establish legal education programs
- publish legal education literature
- organize people or groups for test case or law reform purposes
The clinic owes its existence to the efforts of committed staff and Board volunteers from the former Quinte Information and Assistance Centre (QIAC). QIAC had also functioned as a Landlord and Tenant Bureau and had offered information and advocacy services in unemployment insurance, social assistance, and consumer matters.
Operating from a storefront at 194 Front Street in downtown Belleville, the four-member staff included an executive director/lawyer, two community legal workers, and a secretary/receptionist. In 1985 and 1987, the clinic received additional funding to open satellite offices in rural and remote areas. In 1987, the clinic moved its main office to 158 George Street in Belleville, from where we still operate, to better serve all the residents in its catchment area.
In 2002, the clinic received additional funding to serve people living on a low income in Lennox & Addington County. We were funded for a total of 10 positions, which included an executive director/lawyer, office manager, lawyers, community legal workers and paralegals, and administrative staff.
In 2004, the clinic’s name was officially changed to Community Advocacy & Legal Centre (CALC) to reflect that we also now served the low-income residents of Lennox & Addington County.
Over the years, the clinic established satellite office locations throughout the three counties:
- in 1985, part-time satellite offices were opened in Madoc and Picton
- in 1987, a part-time satellite office was opened in Bancroft
- in March 2002, a part-time satellite was opened in Napanee (after completing a legal needs assessment)
- in 2004, a part-time satellite was opened in Trenton
- as of 2016, we also have satellite locations in Amherstview, Marmora and Tweed
- as of 2017 we began to hold advice clinics on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory
In recent years, more staff have been hired with special funding from a variety of sources, including:
- The Law Foundation of Ontario
- the Provincial Homelessness Initiative Fund and Hastings County, for an Eviction Prevention Project
- the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, for Tenant Duty Counsel services
- Pro Bono Law Ontario, for a Pro Bono Project
We would not have been able to accomplish anything without the support of our community for the last 4 decades. We are thankful for the support we have received from many individuals, groups, organizations, law associations, members of municipal councils, and indigenous, provincial, and federal governments.
For more information about the history of our clinic and Legal Aid Ontario, please read:
- an overview of the clinics’ history 1980-1995
- year by year highlights of the clinic’s work from 1980-1995
- CALC Timeline 1980-2010 (Graphic) – Text Version
- remarks given by Professor Mary Jane Mossman at our 35th Anniversary event in Belleville on November 10, 2015. (Watch the video.)
- report for the Ontario Society Justice Initiative: Delivering Community Justice Services at Scale – Ontario, Canada
- Canada Country Report for International Legal Aid Group Conference – Excerpted Version