Organization of the Month | November 2017

This month, we feature Consumer Protection BC, a Clicklaw contributor.

Consumer Protection BC is a provincial regulator that licenses several sectors (see Infographic below) and offers information and referrals to people in BC.

Meet Laura

Laura Cox is the Manager, Licensing and Information Services at Consumer Protection BC. Her team handles the licensing of all the sectors that Consumer Protection BC oversees, and also offers assistance to consumers.

What has surprised you most about working with your organization?

I joined our organization in 2012. It is surprising to see how many consumer calls and emails we receive which are outside of our mandate. We work really hard to provide consumers with the best possible referral, but in some cases the referral is to a lawyer, or court.

As a regulator, we oversee three different Acts, and many sectors. It was overwhelming to see how much I would need to learn.

It seems like that’s a widely held misconception–that you can help with any consumer issue.

[I think that because of our name] people assume we can help with any consumer issue, but that’s just not the case. We oversee specific laws and can only help when a potential violation of that law has occurred. This is why my team works so hard to ensure we have the right referrals for consumer issues that fall outside of our mandate.

What are some common referrals that you do make?

One of our top referrals is to the Vehicle Sales Authority–they oversee the retail sales of vehicles sold through licensed dealerships.

We also refer a lot of consumers to the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Service (CCTS)–they can help consumers who have an issue with a cell phone, landline, cable, TV, or internet provider.

We have a page designated on our new website for our top referrals. To learn more about other agencies who can help consumers within BC visit our referral page here.

Do you have any interesting stories of clients you’ve helped in the past year?

Here’s a story we shared in our annual report (names and some details have been changed to protect privacy):

It was time to get his chimney fixed, so Eddy hired a masonry company to do the repairs. After quite a delay in getting any work done, the masonry company tried to convince Eddy he had a mould problem in his house and they could help. Eddy had a background in the trades and knew there was no mould problem. This was a red flag for him so he decided to cancel the contract and get his deposit back. Something just didn’t feel right. When the business owner stated all deposits were non-refundable, Eddy got nervous. “I’m pushing 80,” says Eddy, “and [the owner] was fighting me on this tooth and nail. At one point, I had to order him off my property.”

That’s when Eddy decided to reach out to Consumer Protection BC to see if they could help. It was determined the business didn’t have all the required content in their contracts and Eddy was within his rights to cancel. Consumer Protection BC’s involvement resulted in a full refund. Eddy stresses the importance of practicing due diligence when hiring someone to do work on your house and to make sure you ask around about the company’s reputation. “Normally I am very careful with these kinds of things,” Eddy says. “But sometimes you get caught off guard. I’m thankful things turned out the way they did.

That’s a great story. What else do you regulate in addition to consumer contracts?

We are responsible for enforcing the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act, the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act, and the Motion Picture Act, and the related regulations. Here is a helpful infographic that shows the sectors we license and regulate:

Thank you for sharing with us today, Laura. Last question–what are you most excited about, recently?

Our new website launch is really exciting! On top of this we continue to work on an online portal for our licensees. This will allow them to accomplish more online, which will save them time; they will also be able to make changes and renew their licenses really quickly.

Stay informed with Consumer Protection BC:

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November 2017 Events (BC-wide, Online)

Bookmark this post! It will be updated as more events are announced. You can also get frequent updates via our Twitter. Have a suggestion? Email us.

  • Wednesday, November 1 (6-7:30pm): Fashion Without Limits: Diversity in Motion at 644 Bentley Road, Port Moody: the Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia will mark Canada’s 150th anniversary with Fashion Without Limits: Diversity in Motion, a multi-disciplinary showcase of the disability community. Our community celebration of diversity in honour of Canada 150 will feature: Adapted ballroom dancing, an adapted fashion show, and the launch of our new Assistive Equipment Fund to honour our two most active and boundary-pushing members: Jason Cole and Rand Surbey. This free, inclusive event will includes refreshments and networking opportunities with community members and organizations. We are excited to bring together members of the disabled community in an inclusive cultural event to share in the inspiration and accomplishment of our members.
  • November 4-10 2017: Conflict Resolution Week: Everyone has their own story during a conflict. It feels like we’re right and they’re wrong – we’re the victim or hero and they’re the villain. There’s Another Story – explore how mediation, unlike fairy tales, has creative and fair options to resolve conflict. Mediators can help you uncover that story and will be out across the province to share some of their tips and skills with you. Check out the Conflict Resolution Week calendar to check out events in Nanaimo, Victoria, Vancouver, and online.
  • November 7-22, 2017 (Various Dates): People’s Law School presents several classes on the following topics in Burnaby, Salmon Arm, and Vancouver:
    • Tuesday, November 7 (12-1pm) Communication Toolbox—Tips on Communicating With a Co-Parent – People’s Law School
    • Tuesday, November 14 (6:30-8pm) Wills and Estates – Okanagan Regional Library – Salmon Arm Branch
    • Tuesday, November 21 (7-8:30pm) Wills and Estates – Burnaby Public Library – McGill Branch
    • Wednesday, November 22 (7-8:30pm) Power of Attorney – Burnaby Public Library – McGill Branch
  • November 8-29, 2017: Nidus presents various online webinars and an in-person presentation in Vancouver:
    • November 8, 11:30am-12:30pm – Online Webinar – Planning for Health Care & Personal Care – How can you plan for incapacity, end-of-life, and other support needs? Learn about Representation Agreements – the only legal document in BC to plan for health care and personal care matters. Find out about other documents being used and promoted in the health system – are they legal? What do they mean for patients and their families?
    • November 15, 1-2:30pm – South Granville Seniors Centre (3rd floor, 1420 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver): Attend a free presentation conducted by a Nidus-trained volunteer. Learn about planning for incapacity and end-of-life. Find out how to book an appointment for personal help to make and register your planning documents. No registration Required.
    • November 29, 11:30am-12:30pm – Online Webinar – Planning for Financial & Legal Matters – Enduring Powers of Attorney or a Representation Agreement with authority for routine finances are legal documents in BC adults may use to plan for incapacity, end-of-life, and other support needs. If there are no arrangements in place, adults can lose their rights through adult guardianship, called Committeeship in BC. Find out how adult guardianship is the LAST RESORT in BC. Also learn about the limits of a Power of Attorney and Bank Power of Attorney.
  • Friday, November 17 (3:45-6pm): Legal Workshops-Mental Health in the Workplace: Rights and Responsibilities of Youth with Disabilities at 451-409 Granville St., Vancouver: The Cerebral Palsy Association of BC is proud to host a new workshop series titled Mental Health in the Workplace: Rights and Responsibilities of Youth with Disabilities This workshop series will address the issues of mental health in the workplace for youth with disabilities. The workshops will be given by Lou Poskitt from Miller Titerle Law Corporation and Kemily Ho from Tevlin Cledle Curtis Employment Law Strategies. Food and refreshments will be provided. To register for these workshops contact Lindsay at programs@bccerebralpalsy.com or call 604-408-9484.
  • Wednesday, November 29 (7:30pm): Battered Women’s Support Services Presents Angela Davis at the Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver: Angela Davis has spent decades as an activist, author and scholar expressing ideas that remain at the forefront, on important issues of race, women’s rights, capitalism and justice. Private reception is now sold out but excellent seats are still available. Don’t miss the opportunity to see one of the most enduring feminist icons live in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territory.

Stay informed:

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2017 Bi-Monthly Update Series: September/October

To keep you informed, here are some highlights of changes and updates made to Clicklaw in September and October:

Jan-Feb | Mar-Apr | May-Jun | Jul-Aug | Sep-Oct | Nov-Dec


The Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch (CBA BC)

Seventeen (17) Dial-A-Law scripts have been updated in October 2017. For a complete list of these resources, see their listing here (sorted by “last reviewed date”).

Legal Services Society

  • First Nations Court Duty Counsel
    Duty counsel is now available at the newest location of First Nations Court: Nicola Valley Indigenous Court (Merritt).
  • Your Gladue Rights
    This new booklet explains Gladue rights, rights under the Criminal Code that apply to anyone who identifies as Aboriginal. Gladue rights can apply at bail and sentencing hearings.
  • Your Welfare Rights: Applying for Welfare Online
    New fact sheet about how to apply for welfare using your computer or mobile phone. Describes the three stages involved and the steps you follow at each stage. Expands on information printed in the booklet How to Apply for Welfare. Available in print and online.
  • Mothers Leaving Abusive Partners: Information on Custody and Access for Women with Children
    This booklet is now available in both traditional and simplified Chinese, French, Punjabi, and Spanish. Describes what abuse is, how to protect yourself and your children, what the courts can do, deciding parenting arrangements, and where to get help and support. Includes a checklist of what to take with you when you leave an abusive relationship.

Wills & Estates Q&A
by People’s Law School

Questions and answers on wills and estates topics. Volunteer legal professionals provide answers to questions from the public relating to personal planning, wills, dealing with death, and settling an estate.

Future Planning Tool
by Plan Institute

This new online tool guides you through the steps of planning for a good life, including financial security, personal network building, estate planning, housing choices and supported decision-making.

Support Person Guidelines: Information Poster
by Provincial Court of BC

An informational poster to help explain the BC Provincial Court’s Support Person Guidelines.

Mothers Without Status
by YWCA Vancouver

This updated booklet is for service providers assisting “mothers without status”. They are women who are neither Canadian citizens nor permanent residents. It gives an overview of the issues they face and options they can take. It includes information on where to get help.

Legal Forms Workshop at Vancouver Public Library (Amici Curiae Programme)
by Law Courts Centre

Amici Curiae is offering free one-hour sessions with legal professionals who can help you fill out your forms. Get help with forms for court, human rights, employment issues, residential tenancy, and more. No legal advice will be provided. Anyone can make an appointment by calling: 778.522.2839 or by email: aclegal.vpl@gmail.com.

Northern Navigator
by South Peace Community Resources Society

A system for healing for families going through separation and/or divorce. The goal is to improve access to mediation and other services, provide guidance, direction, and information to families in the Peace. The program works with the Registry and Court so when directed by the Judge or when families choose on their own, families will be provided more options for accessing alternative dispute resolution methods (mainly mediation through a roster of mediators working on a sliding scale).

New and updated Common Questions

Gives you a selection of helpful guides when you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft. It also tells you who to call to report the incident and to ask for more information.

Now includes links to Disability Alliance BC’s blog posts about the new increase to disability rates, the restoration of the bus pass program, and the new transportation supplement.

Stay informed:

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User Survey 2017

We recently launched a survey to study users’ needs on Clicklaw and Clicklaw Wikibooks.

Through this two-part survey, we are asking our users about what legal information they’re looking for and how Clicklaw is helping them find it. We would like to learn more about what we could do to improve their experience.

Users that answer the survey may enter a draw for a $100 Chapters Gift Card.

Visit the websites to see the surveys in action: Clicklaw and Clicklaw Wikibooks.

Stay tuned for more news. Winners will be announced on the Clicklaw blog.

Stay informed:

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October 2017 Events (BC-wide, Online)

Bookmark this post! It will be updated as more events are announced. You can also get frequent updates via our Twitter. Have a suggestion? Email us.

  • October 2017: Personal Planning Month: Getting your affairs in order gives you peace of mind and takes the burden off family and friends. It’s easy when you know the steps to take. Attend a free presentation, find out about Nidus’ free forms to make your own Representation Agreement. Nidus is an independent, non-profit, charitable organization that was set up by seniors and disability groups. Nidus is the Centre for Excellence on Representation Agreements and personal planning.
    • Provincial Interactive Webinars with Q&APublic libraries across BC are hosting Nidus presentations. Locations include: Castlegar, Duncan, Okanagan (Enderby, Armstrong, Salmon Arm, Vernon, Summerland), Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, Trail, Thompson-Nicola, Victoria, Prince Rupert, Williams Lake.
    • Metro-Vancouver in-person presentationsWith the generous support of local seniors centres, neighbourhood houses and public libraries, Nidus-trained volunteers and staff are able to offer some in-person presentations in the Metro-Van area.
    • Webinars for ProfessionalsProfessionals need information and resources geared to their workplace role. Nidus is offering presentations for the following settings.

      Interested professionals should email info@nidus.ca for details.

Engaging Older Women in your Community is a promising practices tool developed as an outcome of the Older Women’s Dialogue Project (OWDP), a collaborative project between the West Coast Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (West Coast LEAF) and the Canadian Centre for Elder Law (CCEL). The publication is intended to support your agency to anticipate and address structural barriers to the participation of older women in community initiatives aimed at legal and policy change.

The tool includes key questions to explore, tips for enhancing organizational capacity to include older women, and examples from our experience throughout the OWDP. All of the ideas contained in this resource reflect what CCEL and West Coast LEAF learned through working with older women in Vancouver, BC.

There are more than 27,000 non-profit societies in BC, providing services and programs that touch virtually every citizen. All pre-existing BC societies need to transition to the new BC Societies Act. The Act includes many significant changes. There is a two-year transition period by which time all societies in BC will have to have filed a transition application. This workshop will provide your society with the information it needs on whether to make any bylaw or policy changes necessary for your society to transition to effectively function under the new Act.

The Fee is $50, but if you are a registered non-profit society delivering community social services within the geographical boundaries of the City of Vancouver, you may be eligible to receive a bursary to assist you with all or part of the workshop registration fee. See registration link for details.

  • October 16-24 (Various Dates): People’s Law School presents several classes on the following topics in Surrey and Vancouver:
    • Monday, October 16 (7-8pm) Probating a Will – Surrey Libraries Ocean Park Branch
    • Tuesday, October 17 (7-8:30pm) Wills and Estates – Surrey Libraries Guildford Branch
    • Wednesday, October 18 (7-8:30pm) Residential Tenancy for Landlords – Surrey Libraries Newton Branch
    • Thursday, October 19 (7-8:30pm) Strata Law – Surrey Libraries City Centre Branch
    • Tuesday, October 24 (6:30-8pm) Immigration Law – What TPRs Need to Know – Dunbar Community Centre
    • Tuesday, October 24 (12-1pm) Your Tenancy Rights – People’s Law School

This year, PovNet celebrates twenty years of building an online community of advocates, social justice lawyers and other passionate front-line workers and supporters who are committed to supporting those living in poverty, while battling the systemic issues that drive people there. We would be so happy if you could join us to celebrate this milestone. We would also like to invite you to help spread the word about this event. We are so excited to be celebrating the work of PovNetters from all over BC and indeed right across Canada. The celebration will be held at the Radisson Hotel Vancouver Airport, and will start with a short Annual General Meeting, followed by a few speakers and stories. We will have finger food and refreshments and there will be a cash bar. The location is within 1 block of the Aberdeen Canadaline station. We look forward to sharing this evening with you!

  • Tuesday, October 24 (12:30-1:30 PM): Litigating for Access: Suing the Government Over the Crisis in Legal Aid at Room 122, Allard Hall, 1822 East Mall, UBC, Vancouver.

Part of the Centre for Feminist Legal Studies’ Fall 2017 lecture series. Featuring West Coast LEAF’s Executive Director Kasari Govender and Litigation Director Raji Mangat.

Get your tickets now and spend an evening with your friends from CLAS and other familiar faces from the social justice community. Tickets are $20, plus service fee, online and $25 at the door. Space is limited so buy early. A full dinner menu will be available so stay for a drink or two and maybe even dinner. Either way, we want you to join us for a fun night. Thanks for supporting our organization as we work towards advancing dignity, equality and justice for all across BC. Tickets can be purchased here. Please direct any questions about the event to Dianne Bankay at dbankay@clasbc.net.

Stay informed:

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StreetMessenger – Texting service for street and marginalized individuals

Tracey Axelsson of the Vancouver Community Network (VCN) and PovNet introduces the work she is doing with the StreetMessenger.

The StreetMessenger was created by VCN (a charity) because they briefly struggled with the burden social service agencies deal with daily — the need to rapidly send information about supports available for street and marginalized survivors in a way that will be read and acted on in real time.

The VCN offices work out of Woodward’s in the DTES; they were posting the Extreme Weather Shelter sheets in the window. It didn’t take long to realize that nobody looked at the posters and that email was just as useless for time-sensitive info. The tech charity decided to begin working on the StreetMessenger. With funding from the Canadian Internet Registries Authority and Innovation in Homelessness (ESDC), they’re now able to make this very easy to use text-messaging platform freely available across Canada so agencies can save money and time on outreach, with more effective and wider-reaching results.

I hope you can tour the site – or take a moment to watch a quick video hosted by Judy Graves.

An new and very exciting feature of the system is the Shelter Bed Availability Map.  The map icons display the number of beds available in the shelter at that location (and set to zero at 11pm). The numbers can change as the beds are taken with a simple text message to the system from the front line staff. It is currently being updated by bc211 during their twice daily call-outs.

Tracey is available via email to answer any questions – vcned@cvn.bc.ca.

Stay informed:

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Join the Discussion on Human Rights in BC

The Government of British Columbia is re-establishing the B.C. Human Rights Commission. Your stories, ideas and concerns can help shape the direction and priorities of the new commission. Join us online and talk to Parliamentary Secretary Ravi Kahlon about what matters to you.

Join the public online discussion before November 17 at engage.gov.bc.ca/bchumanrights

Contribute to a strong future for human rights in B.C.

Discussion Topic #1 has been posted here: Human Rights and You

Stay informed:

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Organization of the Month | September 2017

This month, we feature Legal Services Society (LSS), a Clicklaw contributor.

WHO WE ARE

The Legal Services Society (LSS) is a non-profit organization created by the LSS Act in 1979 to provide legal information, advice, and representation services to people with low incomes. Most people call us Legal Aid BC. Our priority is to serve the interests of people with low incomes. But many of our services are available to all British Columbians.

WHAT DO WE DO?

Every year we help tens of thousands of British Columbians with:

  • serious family problems,
  • child protection matters,
  • immigration issues, and
  • criminal law issues.

We do this by providing a range of services that help people resolve their legal problems. These services include legal information, legal advice, and legal representation. Our services are offered at legal aid locations throughout the province or by calling 1-888-577-2525.

WHAT ARE WE WORKING ON?

Our Community and Publishing Services department is our legal information branch of Legal Services Society. Here’s what they’re working on:

Since it’s launched the site has had over 36,000 users. The Make a Will pathway has been used around 5,600 times and the Make a Separation Plan pathway is just below that at around 5,400. We’ve also done extensive user testing since the launch. If you’ve used MyLawBC in the past, check it out again and complete a 2-3 minute survey about your experience with MyLawBC.com. You could win a cash prize of $100. If you want to let others know about MyLawBC, see the Communication Kit.

  • Community Partners

LSS partners with 26 agencies in BC to provide legal information, connect people to the LSS call centre or local agent, and/or connect people to other legal help. We call them our community partners. The contracts are small, but the impact is big because the front-line workers do other jobs for their agency that put them into direct and frequent contact with people who need legal help. For a complete list of locations and the names of our partners, visit the Community Partners webpage and the Clicklaw HelpMap (for an interactive Google Map).

  • New and upcoming publications about Gladue Rights and First Nations Court

We have a suite of publications letting people know about Gladue rights and First Nations Court. These are:

  • What’s First Nations Court? – This fact sheet explains restorative justice, how you get into First Nations Court, where First Nations Courts are located, who’s at First Nations Court, and what a healing plan is.
  • Your Gladue Rights – a plain language booklet about Aboriginal peoples’ rights under the Criminal Code of Canada called Gladue rights.
  • Gladue Rights at Bail and Sentencing – This infographic poster shows when Gladue rights apply for Aboriginal people during the criminal court process, and when to get a Gladue report or prepare an oral Gladue submission.
  • Coming later in 2017 will be the Gladue Submission Guide and the Gladue Report Guide which help Aboriginal people, advocates, and intermediaries make Gladue reports or submissions. Clicklaw blog subscribers will stay up to date with new publications like these through the Bi-Monthly Update Series.

Get the latest updates about Legal Services Society

Sign up for the newsletter at The Factum.
 

Stay informed with LSS:

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Law Society Essay Contest for BC Secondary Students 2017-18

Please spread the word on this exciting opportunity for all BC Grade 12 students and any secondary school students who have taken, or are currently enrolled in Law 12 or Civic Studies 11:

The Law Society congratulates essay contest winner Angela Tian (pictured left), a grade 12 student from Burnaby South Secondary School, and runner-up Sylvan Lutz (pictured right), a grade 12 student from Reynolds Secondary School in Victoria, for their outstanding essays on the rule of law.

Do you have an interest in the legal and justice system? Are you passionate about upholding fundamental freedoms and rights for all persons? Do you value every person’s right to equality before the law? Show us what you know and submit an essay to our contest:

How does social media interact with the rule of law?

The winning entry will be awarded a $1,000 prize, and the runner up will receive a $500 prize. The first place winner and runner up will be invited to an awards presentation event at the Law Society in Vancouver. Deadline for submissions is April 6, 2018.

For further details, download the flyerinformation sheet and submission guidelines.

The Rule of Law and Lawyer Independence Advisory Committee launched the annual essay contest in 2015 for BC secondary school students to reaffirm the significance of the rule of law and to enhance students’ knowledge and willingness to participate actively in civic life.

If you have questions about the contest, contact Policy & Legal Services.

Stay informed with the Law Society of BC:

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Final Report of BC Family Justice Unbundled Legal Services Project

We previously discussed “Unbundling” in this introductory post.

In short, unbundled legal services means clients pay for some assistance depending on: (1) what they want help with and (2) what they can afford. It is ideal for clients who value cost predictability and prefer to play a more active role in their own legal matter.

The BC Family Justice Unbundled Legal Services Project has now released their Final Report, which gives some more background on the project designed to encourage more BC family lawyers to offer unbundled legal services to BC families who wish to resolve issues arising from separation and divorce through out-of-court processes including mediation. The Report details the project’s activities, and contemplates the future of the project.

The Report also highlights places where you can learn more about Unbundling, namely the unbundling website: http://unbundling.ca

You may also access the Unbundling Roster on the Clicklaw HelpMap here.

Please spread the word with your colleagues, friends and family; as the Report notes, the Roster “will only be effective and sustainable if the public knows about it and uses it.”

Stay informed:

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