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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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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For those affected by BC Wildfires

The 2017 wildfires have displaced many people in large and small BC communities. They’ve also given rise to many legal issues and questions.

In response to the 2017 wildfires, Access Pro Bono has:

  • set up a free telephone advice service (1-877-762-6664) for affected people; and
  • enlisted several volunteer lawyers to provide answers to frequently asked legal questions in different areas of law covered in separate information sheets (currently being developed):

The Info Sheets are being updated here: http://www.accessprobono.ca/news/2017/apb-offers-telephone-advice-service-legal-info-people-affected-bc-wildfires

Stay informed with Access Pro Bono:

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Notice: No more FeedBurner, new RSS

Welcome to our increasing readership

Our blog readership increased over 17% this year vs. Spring/Summer 2016–welcome to our new readers! If you ever have any feedback about the blog, please feel free to let us know at editor@clicklaw.bc.ca

Moving on from FeedBurner

We decided to move on from FeedBurner, which previously powered our email subscriptions and RSS subscriptions. FeedBurner is an RSS tool that was bought by Google in 2007; unfortunately, Google stopped providing support and development to the tool in 2012. Our email subscriptions are now powered by MailChimp, which automatically emails you every time there is a new post.

If you are seeing this post as an email in your inbox, you don’t need to do anything. This means you were subscribed with us in the past, and we’ve simply transferred your (active) subscription to a MailChimp list, so you will continue to get email updates on Clicklaw blog posts. If you signed up in the past but did not confirm your subscription, you were not added to our MailChimp list, and will have to subscribe again to give us your consent.

If you are subscribed to our RSS feed through an RSS reader, make sure that you update the Feed URL: blog.clicklaw.bc.ca/feed

To sign up for an email subscription, use this box on the right hand column of the blog

Stay informed:

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Organization of the Month | July 2017

This month, we feature Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS), a Clicklaw contributor.

Meet Samrah

Samrah Mian is the Intake Coordinator for the Community Law Program at CLAS. Samrah acts as the first point of contact for all clients and advocates accessing the Community Law Program’s services. She listens to their stories, gleans relevant information, helps clients gather documents from various sources in order to complete a program intake, and links clients and callers to other resources and referrals when appropriate. She also plays a role in community outreach, public legal education and research, and works towards program goals surrounding residential tenancy.

Thanks for talking to me today, Samrah. Can you tell me more about what you do?

I was hired about a year ago at CLAS, in a newly created position, intended to streamline and simplify intakes with the hope that clients could quickly reach someone who would be able to help them immediately and that this would lessen the load on the rest of the program staff.

What I truly appreciate is the diversity of the work that my job involves. I’ve been given the opportunity to become involved in public engagement, conducting research and learning more about poverty law topics that interest me.

Can you tell me more about what your Community Law Program (CLP) is working on?

Besides providing direct services to hundreds of people every year, we’re involved in a number of systemic advocacy actions.

Our program is active in lobbying for changes to residential tenancy laws and procedures at the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB). We supported the new legislative amendments that allowed tenants fleeing family violence to be able to end their fixed-term tenancies early and we actively work with the RTB to improve practices.

Outside of residential tenancy, our recent work includes a case that resulted in the repeal of discriminatory income assistance policies and we are currently challenging the validity of forced psychiatric treatments under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We also intervened at the Supreme Court of Canada in a human rights case that will determine whether the BC Human Rights Tribunal can deal with complaints of workplace harassment involving co-workers, customers, contractors and other non-supervisory personnel in the workplace.

Very cool to hear. What about your direct services? When should people refer to CLP?

Here’s a handy chart:

A good time to refer to CLPNot a good time to refer to CLP
Your client has received an Order of Possession from the Residential Tenancy Branch and is required to leave their homeYour client has received a Notice of Eviction from their landlord
After a co-op board meeting, your client’s membership has been terminatedYour client is receiving letters from their co-op that threaten to cancel her membership if she doesn’t comply with their terms
Your client has been served with court papers from the bank holding the mortgage in the house that they live in Your client has missed a mortgage payment
Your client has received a decision from the Workers Compensation Appeal TribunalYour client has received a decision from a WCB officer
Your client has received a decision from the Social Security Tribunal or the Employment and Assistance Appeal TribunalYour client has been told that they are not eligible for income assistance by a government branch such as the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation (now Social Development and Poverty Reduction)
Your client has had a human rights tribunal hearing and lost the hearingYour human rights claim has been accepted and you are seeking representation (in this case, the Human Rights Clinic would be a good referral)
Your client has received a decision from the Employment Standards TribunalYour client is being harassed by their employer and want to file a complaint with the Employment Standards Branch
Your client has received a decision from the Mental Health Review Panel or is being detained under the Adult Guardianship Act or has been issued a Certificate of Incapability under the Adult Guardianship ActYour client has been involuntarily detained under the Mental Health Act (if they have applied for a review panel hearing, they can apply to the Mental Health Law Program for representation)

Fantastic. I think that will be an excellent tool for people to have when making referrals. Anything else CLP is working on that you’re excited about?

We’re currently building self-serve website called BC Judicial Review Self-Help Guide where self-represented litigants can walk through the judicial review process and download templates that will make it easier for them to file for a review. In the past, this used to be a very long PDF but we’ve updated it to make it easier to follow. We’re also making different ‘streams’ for different legal issues. We currently have the residential tenancy and workers’ compensation streams up and we’ll be working on human rights and some other tribunals soon.

What’s the biggest misconception that people have about CLP?

One big misconception is that we can represent all clients in all types of legal matters for free!

The legal services that we provide through the Community Law Program are free of charge but, in reality, our program mandate is limited. We’ve done some work to spread awareness about this fact but we still get the occasional phone call from a client who wants our help in suing their dentist.

Our primary intake criteria is assisting low-income clients resolve their legal disputes when they have a decision from an administrative tribunal in the areas of work-related legal issues, human rights, government benefits, housing, and mental health law. In addition, we can also help individuals when their co-op membership is terminated, we can provide advice to low-income homeowners when their house is being foreclosed upon and we can help with certain situations in regards to adult guardianship.

CLAS serves the entire province of BC, and our other programs include the BC Human Rights Clinic, the Community Advocates Support Line and the Mental Health Law Program.

Thanks for clearing that up. I hope this helps spread the word, and better connects people to CLAS.

Me too. Speaking of connecting, we are holding our Working CLAS Blues fundraiser on October 26, 2017. If you’re in the lower mainland, we’d love it if you could join us for a night of music, dancing and social justice. Contact Dianne Bankay dbankay@clasbc.net for more information.

Sounds like fun. Last question–what’s something you enjoy when you aren’t working?

I volunteer at Battered Women’s Support Services Family Law Information Clinic along with a team of legal interns. I also spend time reading contemporary literature and listening to HowStuffWorks podcasts.

Stay informed with CLAS:

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July 2017 Events (Online, Vancouver, BC-wide)

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.

Join the BC Civil Liberties Association for the Canada 150 Fireworks! Celebrate the BCCLA’s work to restore citizenship equality with a spectacular view— from the Gastown rooftop patio of our hosts artist Franke James and Billiam James! The party starts at 9:00pm and goes until after the fireworks display. This party celebrates three years of work fighting to repeal the changes made by Bill C-24, and restore citizenship equality for every Canadian, regardless of where they or their families were born. Registration for this event is now closed. If you’d like to attend, email charlotte@bccla.org

  • July 5-26 (various dates): Nidus logo_niduspresents online webinars on Personal Planning

Wednesday, July 5 (11:30-12:30pm) Online Webinar: Live Demo of the Personal Planning Registry. Register Online.

Wednesday, July 26 (11:30-12:30pm) Online Webinar: Planning for Financial & Legal Matters. Register Online.

Presented by: BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association and Courthouse Libraries BC

Have you ever filed an FOI request that is met with bureaucratic obstacles, outrageous fee estimates, or documents with blanked-out pages? Do you want to file an FOI request, but are unsure about the best way to get the documents you want? This skills training workshop will provide newcomers to FOI with practical skills to prepare and submit information requests that get results, and to navigate some common challenges that can arise as requests are processed.

Through this interactive webinar, you will be able to actively engage with the workshop facilitator, so regardless of your experience filing FOI requests, this will be an invaluable opportunity to learn new skills and how to file requests strategically to avoid redactions, exemptions, missing pages that are “out of scope,” and keep fees at a minimum.

Join us to find out how to get beyond government messaging and PR spin and find out how public bodies really treat issues you care about.

  • Wednesday, July 12 (3pm-4:30pm): Seniors Program – Tea, Talk and Crumpets (PWD, OAS, CPP) in Yaletown Roundhouse Community Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews), Vancouver. A new social and recreational outlet for seniors with disabilities. This is a peer-run program with a volunteer board planning activities. The speaker is Laurette Yelle, who will be discussing Persons with Disabilities information and the transition to Old Age Security (OAS) and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).

RSVP to Dan Chalcraft community@bccerebralpalsy.com or 604 408 9484. Light refreshments provided.

  • Thursday, July 20 (10:45am-12pm): Seniors First BC presents an Elder Abuse Workshop in Cantonese held in Killarney Community Centre (6260 Killarney Street), Vancouver. Elder Abuse: What Is It? How Do We Deal With It?

Stay informed:

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Organization of the Month | June 2017

This month, we feature People’s Law School, a Clicklaw contributor and early Clicklaw Wikibooks adopter.

// New Website

PLS launched a new website yesterday at peopleslawschool.ca.

PLS is a BC non-profit providing free education and info to help people “work out life’s legal problems.”

The website is responsive and mobile-friendly, and it focuses on providing plain language legal information on areas where there isn’t a lot of information available online:

  • Cars & Getting Around;
  • Consumer;
  • Wills & Estates;
  • Money (additional content to come in the months after launch); and
  • Work (additional content to come in the months after launch).
Image 1: Document builder for Agreement for Sale of Used Vehicle

The new website focuses on clean, visual and interactive design, with practical tools such as template letters and document builders, that people can use to take steps to address their problem. For example, they provide a document builder so you can draft your own agreement when selling a used car (See Image 1). You can provide feedback on the beta site here.

In addition to providing linkages to their resources on Clicklaw, PLS continues to be a big contributor to the Wikibooks. PLS is committed to delivering information digitally, in addition to their in-person services and print publications.

// Justice Theatre

The Justice Theatre program stages interactive theatre performances in classrooms and community settings around the province, featuring legal issues relevant to the everyday lives of students and those with unique legal needs. In the months ahead, PLS will be working to develop curriculum resources for teachers to use before and after the Justice Theatre comes for their performance visits, working to have a more seamless integration with learning happening in the classroom.

// Online Classes

PLS will be developing a program to deliver classes online, zeroing in on their focus areas listed above, along with newer topics such as neighbour law. They will continue providing their in-person Learn @ Lunch sessions, as well as evening classes across the province with partnering community organizations and public libraries.

// Get Involved

There are many ways to contribute as a volunteer with People’s Law School – you can also sign up for their newsletter at the footer of their new site.

// Acknowledgements

Thank you to Patricia Byrne, Executive Director, and Drew Jackson, Legal Content Developer, for providing the information for this post.

People’s Law School would like to thank the Law Foundation of BC for their support in building the new website.

Stay informed with PLS:

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Big Changes to Small Claims

Small Claims under $5001

Last week, the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT)–Canada’s first online tribunal–began accepting small claims disputes $5000 and under.

Small claims disputes that the CRT can resolve include a wide variety of issues between individuals and organizations. You can start with the Solution Explorer, the first step in the CRT process, to find information and self-help tools for your issue. You can also apply for dispute resolution right from the Solution Explorer.

If you go through to obtain a CRT order, it may be enforced by filing it in the BC Provincial Court. When you do so, it has the same force and effect as a judgment of the BC Provincial Court.

What about Small Claims over $5000?

The BC Provincial Court now handles Small Claims cases between $5001 and $35,000. The Court has put together a helpful page that goes over the changes, including:

  • types of disputes;
  • what the CRT can and cannot hear;
  • when a claim under $5001 can still be heard by the Provincial Court;
  • when the CRT might refuse a claim;
  • what to do when you are not happy with a CRT decision;
  • special procedures in Vancouver and Richmond; and
  • alternatives to court.

What resources & help are there for Small Claims?

With the help of Judge Ann Rounthwaite (retired), Digital Communications Coordinator for the BC Provincial Court, we have updated Where do I start for information on Small Claims Court?

This page provides a curated collection of helpful basics for all things Small Claims.

It includes a printable PDF handout with:

  • A summary of the resources; and
  • A short bit.ly link so anyone can quickly access the full list of links.

Other Provincial Court resources

The following Common Questions have also been updated:

Access all “Where do I start…?” questions and handouts at: bit.ly/clicklawbcpc

Stay informed:

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Organization of the Month | May 2017

This month, we feature BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA), a Clicklaw contributor.

FIPA is a non-partisan, non-profit society established to promote and defend freedom of information (FOI) and privacy rights in Canada. They strive to empower citizens by increasing their access to information and their control over their own personal information. FIPA was the major force in getting BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act passed.

// Upcoming Events

Wednesday, June 21: FIPA AGMFIPA will have a joint speaker with the Canadian Institute for Information and Privacy Studies. The public is welcome attend but only members can vote. Become a member today, and join FIPA for the AGM! For more information on membership, visit FIPA’s website.

Tuesday, July 11 @ 12:30pm: FOI 101 Online Webinar with Courthouse Libraries BC. Open to anyone interested in learning the basics of filing FOI requests and learning to navigate some common challenges that can arise as requests are processed. Stay tuned for more information! You can also subscribe here to stay updated on all Courthouse Libraries BC webinars.

September: Right to Know Week – FIPA will be hosting their annual FOI 101 workshop as well as the 7th BC Information Summit. More information to come, so be sure to check the FIPA website for the most recent updates. These events will be included on the Clicklaw blog’s monthly events posts.

// Q&A with Vince, FIPA Executive Director

Hi Vince, thanks for answering our questions. Can you explain what FIPA does?

A lot of what we do is helping people navigate a system that is completely alien to them, usually to get them information or documents they need to take care of other problems they may be having. We also do some education, but keeping in mind most people we help are focused on other issues–FOI is a means to an end.

Who does FIPA help?

We work to serve all of BC and even more so this year by providing our FOI 101 workshop through an online webinar with Courthouse Libraries BC, so that we can better reach the entire province. This interactive webinar will provide newcomers to FOI with practical skills to prepare and submit information requests that get results, and to navigate some common challenges that can arise as requests are processed. We are also actively engaged in national issues as well.

What are you working on now? 

We’re always working on exciting privacy and FOI reforms at both the provincial and federal levels, but with a new provincial government apparently ready to take office, we’re gearing up to really push for these reforms that have been largely ignored.

This year, we’ve also been doing work based on our 2015 The Connected Car: Who is in the Driver’s Seat? Report for the federal Privacy Commissioner. We have just appeared at a Senate Transportation committee hearing into autonomous and connected vehicles, and we hope to do an update on the report later this year. This exciting research will examine the current state of privacy protections in the Canadian car industry.

What’s something you’d like to clear up about FIPA?

A lot of people think we hold personal records in our office, or that we are a government body to whom they send their requests–but we don’t, and we aren’t!

What are you most excited about for FIPA?

We have the opportunity to deal with a very fast-changing field, especially working to ensure that new technological advances are also protective of our information and privacy rights.

Conversely, is there anything you are worried about?

I’m worried that we are being sold a bill of goods, trading our rights to information and privacy for convenience and/or claimed protection from danger.

Last question: if you could wave a magic wand and make one wish come true, what would it be, and why?

I’d wish that even a small percentage of the money and time being spent on developing new technologies and products was spent on ensuring that those technologies and products protect our information and privacy rights. It’s not impossible to protect privacy in the new information age, but there is a reluctance to devote the resources to make it happen.

// FIPA expertise brought to Common Questions

Thanks to FIPA, we also have a slew of new Common Questions on FOI, records, and privacy. Check them out by scrolling down on the Clicklaw home page:

Stay informed with FIPA:

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