Do you have a will?

Printable PDF handouts with accessible Wills and Personal Planning Resources for all audiences

Wills are essential tools for responsible planning and are applicable to persons considered “mentally capable” and 16 or older in BC.

Completing a will is usually a relief.  If you have been thinking about a will for yourself or if you have family members who have yet to take that step, the next few weeks are an excellent time to start.

April 9-15, 2017 is Make-a-Will Week, and a number of organizations and legal professionals are coming together to donate their time and effort to help people write their will or bring an existing will up to date.

Don’t forget about Personal Planning

A will doesn’t mean you’re totally covered — if you don’t know about Representation Agreements, Enduring Powers of Attorney and other personal planning documents, you’ll want to read more about these important legal planning documents with experts like Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry.

What events are going on?

On April 22, 10am-2pm, call 604 687-3221 OR 1-800-663-1919 for a free 15 minute consultation with a lawyer

Make a Will Week is closely followed by Law Week, so there are a lot of events happening in the month of April. We covered a variety in our last post on April Events.

For example, the CBA BC is holding its province-wide Dial-a-Lawyer day on Saturday, April 22, 2017 from 10am – 2pm where anyone can call 604 687-3221 or 1-800-663-1919 for a free 15-minute consultation with a Wills and Estates Lawyer. They also cover other areas of law: Business, Employment, Family, Immigration and Tort & Motor Vehicle.

Nidus is holding online and in-person presentations about Personal Planning — legal documents for health care, personal care, financial and legal matters.

People’s Law School in collaboration with various organizations are holding many Public Legal Education Law Classes across BC on various topics, ranging from Writing a Will and Probating a Will to Strata Law.

I want to learn more about making my will. What do I read? Who do I call?

At the Wills and Personal Planning Resources page on the Courthouse Libraries BC website, there is a comprehensive list of free or nominal fee resources and services for everyone—from lawyers to people who aren’t familiar with the law. The webpage contains the full list of resources, services and events. The PDF handouts (printable, shareable) contain examples of types of help that can be found on the webpage, and contain a short bit.ly link that forwards to the webpage.

If you would like to make a suggestion for a resource, please email us.

Want to share the Wills & Personal Planning Resources page? Use this short redirect URL: http://bit.ly/CLBCwills

Stay informed:

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Apr. 2017 Events – Online & 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.

A community-driven event about how we can achieve women’s equality in BC. Join the Single Mothers’ Alliance BC for an all-candidates debate and keynote speakers on women’s rights in BC. Ahead of the May 9 provincial general election, learn about BC political party platforms on gender equality and discuss the issues that matter to you in community roundtables. The event will end with a networking reception for all attendees.

The BC Society Act, which provides the rules for governance and incorporation of non-profits, officially proclaimed important changes on November 28, 2016. There will be a two year transition period by which time all societies in BC will have to make the switch to the new Act. This workshop will provide the information on the bylaw and policy changes necessary for your organization to effectively make the transition when the new Act is proclaimed.

Tickets are $50, or free for workshops in the Kootenays (Kaslo & Revelstoke) due to the funding and support of Columbia Basin Trust.

  • April 3-27 (Various Dates): People’s Law School presents numerous events (some in collaboration with Mediate BC) on the following topics in Burnaby, Cranbrook, Lake Cowichan, Nanaimo, North Vancouver, Port Moody, Richmond, Surrey and Vancouver:

Wills & Estates, MyLawBC (guided pathways), Strata Law, Restorative Justice (in collaboration with Mediate BC), Scams, Employment Law, Civil Litigation, Power of Attorney, Investment Frauds, & Effective Enquiries (in collaboration with Mediate BC)

Register here.

  • April 5 & 8 (Various Dates): BCCLA has a couple of events going on this month:logo_bccla

April 5 (7:00pm) Justice for Hassan Diab – Mr. Diab’s Canadian lawyer Don Bayne and Hasan Alam of Critical Muslim Voices speak about the 8 year nightmare of Hassan Diab. At the Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch, Combined Peter and Alma Room, 350 W. Georgia St, Vancouver, BC. RSVP required.

April 8 (2:00-4:00pm) Equal Citizenship: No More Second-Class Citizens! Join us for a discussion featuring the BC Civil Liberties Association’s Executive Director, Josh Paterson, to talk about citizenship equality and your rights as a Canadian citizen. At the Welsh Hall East, West Vancouver Memorial Library (1950 Marine Dr, West Vancouver, BC). RSVP here.

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

Wednesday, April 12 (11:30-12:30pm) Online Webinar: Planning for Health and Personal Care. Register Online.

Wednesday, April 12 (1:00-2:30pm) In-Person Presentation: Planning for incapacity and end-of-life. No Registration required. At South Granville Seniors Centre, 1420 West 12th Avenue (between Granville & Hemlock) in Vancouver. Held in lounge on 3rd floor.

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

Do you have questions for the Chief Judge? About his career and experience as a Provincial Court Judge and as the Chief Judge of the Court? About his leadership and the Court’s many initiatives? About judicial appointments, judicial education, reducing delays, changes to Small Claims Court or …? Tweet your questions using #AskChiefJudge on or before April 6, 2017. “He’ll tweet you back between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm. Please note that the Chief Judge can’t discuss individual cases or political issues. Not available on April 6? Tweet questions to #AskChiefJudge any time before April 6!

Join the conversation with Hugh Segal, Former Senator to discuss a Guaranteed Income for people with disabilities. Free Admission – everyone welcome. Reception at 6:30pm, light refreshments will be served.

Register at: http://ow.ly/FhtG309N9Jl or call 604.299.7851

Watch as students present their App creations from LAWF 3780 – Apps for Access to Justice, and vote for your favourite! OM 3772 or http://livestream.com/tru/law

We’ll be live-streaming this event at the Vancouver Courthouse Library, 3rd floor, 800 Smithe Street, and at our Kamloops Courthouse Library, 455 Columbia Street, Room 314. Let the front desk know when you walk into the library that you’re here to watch the Battle of the Apps. If you have any questions, email training@courthouselibrary.ca.

A number of important changes to disability assistance benefits have been introduced in recent years which affect persons with disabilities (PWD) applicants and recipients including the introduction of an Annualized Earnings Exemption (AEE), several new categories of income exemptions (including gifts), and a significant asset limit increase. In this one hour webinar offered jointly by POVNet, Disability
Alliance BC and Courthouse Libraries BC, Sam Turcotte & Annette Murray of Disability Alliance BC will summarize the most important recent changes and examine how they benefit people receiving or applying for PWD benefits as well as some of the challenges and misconceptions that have arisen as a result.

Register Online.

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Organization of the Month | March 2017

A conversation with Raji

Raji Mangat is the Director of Litigation at West Coast LEAF. Besides being incredibly accomplished, she has a strong passion for justice — we talked about how she works towards a more equal society as part of the West Coast LEAF team:

Hi Raji, could you tell me a bit more about what your work involves?

My position as the Director of Litigation is a relatively new lawyer position in our office. I oversee and make decisions about what equality cases we’re going to be involved in and in what capacity. We do lots of work through committees and consultation to have different perspectives represented. We don’t want to impose based on our experiences. I spend one day a week over at Rise Women’s Legal Centre as the liaison lawyer – I work with the staff and students to identify systemic issues that are impeding women in areas of child protection and family law. I really like that part of the job; West Coast LEAF’s expertise is in systemic issues while Rise has individual clients. My position is a bridge between the two organizations. If we can identify the issues that these women are facing, that are ripe for challenge, we can potentially help even more women.

I get to see the law develop to be more inclusive and reflective of people’s diverse experiences.

I was drawn to this work because of the subject matter. I enjoy the work, sometimes in a purely legal geeky way — it’s really on the cutting edge of constitutional law and human rights. I get to see the law develop to be more inclusive and reflective of people’s diverse experiences. I hope we’re doing a good job of working for women from all walks of life who are experiencing barriers to participating equally in our society. Also, we do a ton of law reform work (letters and submissions to government, getting meetings with high level decision makers to influence policy before it becomes law) as tools for systemic change, and litigation comes in where things have gotten to the point where they must be addressed after the fact. We also work in education — to work towards what comes next, what attitudes prevail.

It sounds like you cover the whole spectrum — preventative, predictive and proactive — which would also be ideal in health care!

Yes, I think so much change can happen through reform, so that people don’t have to go through a terrible experience so we have something to challenge. If we can work on how our policy makers are making laws — what they are relying on. Are they making evidence-based decisions, or what will be politically expedient, or based on what stereotypes they’re holding in their minds. It can definitely result in lasting change. I mean, legal challenges are long and expensive and we know that we can have a law struck down and something else legislated that isn’t much of an improvement. I think that is part of also drew me to West Coast LEAF — a holistic view of how change happens.

What has surprised you the most about your work?

We put a lot of thought and energy in what and how we are doing the work — if the process doesn’t include organizations and people who have historically been left out of these processes, the outcome will reflect that exclusion. I really like how thoughtful we are, and how much energy we put into listening and reflecting in the perspectives of diverse women. It makes the work more challenging but also so much richer. This work has been [incredibly] collaborative.

If the process doesn’t include organizations and people who have historically been left out of these processes, the outcome will reflect that exclusion.

Do you have an early memory with your organization that’s stuck with you?

Really shortly after I started, we were invited to Ottawa to make submissions to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice. They wanted submissions from us on the Court Challenges Program that the government was looking to reinstate – and that they subsequently have reinstated. We are happy to see the program return because it provides an opportunity for organizations like us to apply for funding to bring challenges to government laws under the Charter. It’s a really intriguing thing because no other country has anything [quite like it]. It’s unique – the government funding a program that allows us to [challenge their laws]. I had a chance to go with Kasari (our Executive Director) and make submissions.

That same week, there was also a Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) judgment being released that West Coast LEAF was intervening in. I knew it well because I had worked on before starting my job at West Coast LEAF. I had to jump right in and roll up my sleeves – it was great to see out of the gate, some of the different ways that we do our work. It stuck with me because I didn’t even have a desk at the office yet and already I was immersed in our work.

That’s pretty amazing. What are you most excited about now? What makes you worry, and why?

I’m excited that we have experienced growth in our legal capacity by adding another lawyer. It also means it increases our ability to coordinate our tools to have education, law reform and litigation programming in tandem. We have increased capacity to bring litigation — being the ones filing the Notice of Claim — along with intervening in cases that others have brought.

And, it’s not a worry, but it is rather more of a challenge, but I wonder about how to get people in the media particularly, but people generally to communicate about inequality. People feel really uncomfortable with addressing inequality in society and there might be some reticence to report on how life circumstances will create different opportunities and barriers.

People feel really uncomfortable with addressing inequality in society and there might be some reticence to report on how life circumstances will create different opportunities and barriers.

I didn’t anticipate [the reluctance] and was a bit surprised about it. The Lloyd case, for example — about mandatory minimums — often, people would wonder why we were interested in a case about a Mr. Lloyd. Well, mandatory minimums for certain drug offences carry implications for women who mostly have more low level drug mule jobs within drug trafficking enterprises. It’s easier to scoop lower level traffickers, and long terms of imprisonment impacts women in particular ways, especially if they’re mothers, or indigenous women. Getting people to see past that — to get into some of the nuance of what the equality issues are and how they can play a role in how vulnerable people are experiencing the law — I guess I worry about how to do that better.

I hope that’s something you can find the answer to.

You’ll be my first call if I do!

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 my coworkers and I would all be out of a job (laughs). But seriously, if there wasn’t a need for West Coast LEAF, meaning substantive equality and inclusion wasn’t just a vision, but a reality, if we were able to see the value of everyone being able to achieve their full potential in a way that didn’t feel threatening to others — that would be my one wish.


What we’re working on

West Coast LEAF challenges gender-based inequalities in these areas (and more):

We defend the human rights of incarcerated and criminalized women. As an intervenor in an historic case challenging the practice of solitary confinement in Canada’s prison system, we will be speaking out in court about how solitary creates particular harms for Indigenous women, women with mental illness, and women who are survivors of violence and trauma.

We stand up for women’s right to parent their children and keep their families together. For example, in our recent law reform report High Stakes, we highlighted how the lack of access to affordable, high-quality childcare can increase the risk of child apprehension and create needless barriers to placing children in the care of loving family members.  

We fight for women’s right to health care and reproductive choice. As an intervenor in the case about Trinity Western University’s proposed law school, West Coast LEAF has made a strong statement that law schools must not restrict the constitutionally-protected abortion rights of their employees and students, and must not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, or family status.

We push for access to legal help for all women who need it. Less than a year ago, West Coast LEAF partnered with UBC’s Allard School of Law to launch a low-cost family law legal clinic for self-identified women, Rise Women’s Legal Centre. Given the crisis in legal aid in BC – and particularly cuts to family law legal aid that have disproportionately impacted women – we just couldn’t wait any longer for a public policy change to address the critical gap in services. Rise, now an autonomous organization, provided urgently needed legal help to 175 women in its first 5 months.

We challenge systems that exacerbate economic inequalities facing women – particularly those women who experience multiple layers of discrimination. For example, West Coast LEAF has been outspoken in criticizing the double-standard created by the way ‘spouse’ and ‘dependent’ are defined in social assistance legislation, which results in unfair denials of income assistance and disability benefits. We called for changes to social assistance law that would support women’s financial independence, self-determination in relationships, and ability to flee abusers.

We fight for women and girls to be free from violence. For example, West Coast LEAF was part of a coalition of organizations that intervened in the inquiry into the victim-blaming conduct of Justice Robin Camp while he presided over a sexual assault trial, which resulted in a recommendation that he be removed from the bench. (Earlier this month, Justice Camp announced his resignation!) To challenge the sexist stereotypes and rape myths that were reflected in Justice Camp’s behaviour, West Coast LEAF also believes in creating a cultural shift by educating the next generation. For more than 15 years, we have been delivering our peer-led No Means No youth workshop to youth in grades 5 to 9. This interactive workshop informs young people of their legal rights and responsibilities when it comes to sexual assault and consent and challenges them to interrupt the culture of violence against women and girls. We also engage youth in critical reflection about what violence looks like online and what the law says about our lives on the Internet through our TrendShift program. We are proud that we can now offer our youth workshops in Kamloops and Nanaimo in addition to Metro Vancouver!


Who we are

West Coast LEAF (Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund) is the first and only organization in BC dedicated to using the law as a tool for advancing the equality rights of women and girls. For more than 30 years, we’ve been using multiple strategies to challenge gender-based inequalities:

  • Intervening in legal cases where equality rights are at stake, and more recently initiating test case litigation to promote equality rights;
  • Shaping laws and policies to better meet the needs of diverse women and girls;
  • Offering public education about legal rights and responsibilities through a social justice lens.

Our vision is a society free of gender-based barriers to health, safety, justice, economic security, and other basic human rights. West Coast LEAF is committed to a model of feminism that includes transgender and intersex people and defends their right to be free from sex and gender discrimination. We strive to realize a vision of equality—substantive equality—that honours the differences among people and recognizes the need for these differences to be factored into laws, policies, and social practices.

Our office is located in Vancouver on unceded Indigenous land belonging to the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the x?m??kw?y??m (Musqueam), Skwxwu?7mesh (Squamish), Stó:l? and S?l?i?lw?ta?/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

Stay informed with West Coast LEAF:

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Twitter Town Hall this April 6th

Do you have questions for Chief Judge Crabtree?

About his career and experience as a Provincial Court Judge and as the Chief Judge of the Court? About his leadership and the Court’s many initiatives? About judicial appointments, judicial education, reducing delays, or …?

You’ll have an opportunity to ask him yourself, in two weeks’ time. Clicklaw will also be at the event in support, to answer any questions about public legal education and information (PLEI) in BC, contributor organizations, and more!

How to Participate

Tweet your questions using #AskChiefJudge on or before April 6, 2017. He’ll tweet you back between 11am-1pm.

Please note that the Chief Judge can’t discuss individual cases or political issues, and may not be able to answer all questions during the Town Hall, but efforts will be made to answer outstanding questions on the Court’s website after the event.

Answers will also be available at #AskChiefJudge.

Here’s a Throwback Thursday to last year’s first ever Twitter Town Hall: See the post that gave a recap of all the events.

Stay informed with the Provincial Court:

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Changes to Small Claims on June 1st

What is Small Claims Court?

Small Claims Court is a division of BC’s Provincial Court. It is for most disputes about debts or damages involving less than $25,000 (with some exceptions). This limit will be increased to $35,000 in June – see below.

The process is generally simpler and faster than the Supreme Court of BC, and is designed for people to use with or without a lawyer.

Changes coming June 1st

The Civil Resolution Tribunal is Canada’s first online tribunal for resolving strata and small claims disputes.

From June 1, 2017, the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) will begin resolving small claims disputes up to $5,000. This will be combined with an increase to $35,000 in the BC Provincial Court’s jurisdiction for small claims cases.

This is the first phase of implementing the CRT’s small claims jurisdiction and using the CRT will be mandatory for most claims up to $5,000. See the official announcement from the Ministry of Justice here.

Update from Provincial Court

See this update from BC Provincial Court on the important changes to Small Claims Court. It covers where the Provincial Court will still have a role in claims $5000 or less, after June 1st, what you can do if you are not satisfied with a CRT adjudicator’s decision, and much more.

More about the CRT

From the CRT website:

  • The Civil Resolution Tribunal is Canada’s first online tribunal for resolving strata and small claims disputes.
  • Right now, the CRT is accepting strata property disputes for intake. Soon, it will begin to accept small claims disputes as well. It offers new ways to resolve your legal issues in a timely and cost-effective manner.
  • The CRT encourages a collaborative, problem-solving approach to dispute resolution, rather than the traditional courtroom model. The CRT aims to provide timely access to justice, built around your life and your needs. It does this by providing legal information, self-help tools, and dispute resolution services to help solve your problem, as early as possible.
  • You can use the CRT 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from a computer or mobile device that has an internet connection.
  • Your interaction with the other participant and/or the CRT can be done when it is convenient for you.
  • Telephone and mail services will also be available for those who can’t access the internet.

The tribunal has been resolving strata disputes since July 2016, encouraging collaborative agreements and making binding decisions when people cannot agree. Once filed, a Tribunal order has the same force and effect as an order of the Supreme Court of BC.

We’ll be posting more information about the CRT and changes to small claims, as it becomes available. Stay tuned.

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Who can help with income tax filings?

It’s that time of year again – 2016 returns must be filed by April 30, 2017! Here are some places to refer to for help with income tax filings:

Canada Revenue AgencyBC-wide, In-Person, Phone

  • has a list of Tax Preparation Clinics across BC. Multiple languages are supported depending on location. You may be eligible if you have a modest income and a simple tax situation. See eligibility requirements here.
  • also runs a individual income tax helpline 1-800-959-8281 from Monday to Friday, 9am-9pm local time, and Saturdays from 9am-5pm local time (until May 1, 2017)

    To be eligible for the CRA tax preparation clinics, the suggested income level is $30,000 for one person and $40,000 for a couple. More for each dependant.

Disability Alliance BC | Vancouver, In-Person, Phone & Email

  • through Tax Aid DABC, helps people who are receiving the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) benefit or the Persons with Persistent and Multiple Barriers (PPMB) benefit with simple income tax filings and information/referrals.

Together Against Poverty Society | Victoria, In-Person

Online Resources

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Border rights: what you need to know

The BC Civil Liberties Association is a Clicklaw contributor. Our mandate is to preserve, defend, maintain and extend civil liberties and human rights in British Columbia and across Canada.

by Laura Track
Community Development Lawyer
This guest post has been cross-posted from the BCCLA news feed. 

Like many of you, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my rights at the border. In light of reports that numerous Canadians have been refused entry to the United States for unclear or troubling reasons recently, not to mention the possibility that US officials could start demanding social media passwords from would-be travellers, I’m worried about delays, refusal, and protecting my privacy. And as a white woman born in Canada with an Anglophone last name, I probably have a lot less to worry about than many others.

Your rights at the border have been extensively canvassed in a wide range of media articles recently. We hope it’s useful to have this information available all in one place, but remember that the law can change and things are happening quickly, so don’t rely on this information for advice about your own specific situation.

There are also some tips for protecting your privacy at the bottom of the post.

The first thing to remember if you’re a Canadian travelling to the United States is that you do not have a free-standing right to enter the US. Many Canadians have been crossing the Canada-US border regularly and without incident for years, but it’s important to remember that US officials have no obligation to let you into the country and can deny you entry for all sorts of reasons that may seem arbitrary and unfair. And while it seems like we’re hearing about many more examples of troubling actions by US border officials right now, there have been many instances of unfairness over the years. Canadians have been refused entry to the US because of a history of depression and mental illness. The US didn’t lift its ban on ban on entry into the US by people with HIV until 2009.

The US Immigration and Nationality Act states that except in cases specified by Congress,

…no person shall receive any preference or priority or be discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.

A spokesperson for US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has stated that “CBP does not discriminate on the entry of foreign nationals to the United States based on religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.” But despite these assurances, it may be difficult for some people to feel confident that their right to non-discriminatory treatment will be respected when we hear stories like that of the Muslim woman turned back after she was questioned about her religion, or the man denied entry after border guards read his profile on a gay hookup app.

The fact that information about both of these travellers was discovered on their cell phones raises another pressing question:

Can US border guards search my phone or laptop?

Image of laptop and phone by Ervins Stauhmanis (Flickr Creative Commons)

In a word: yes. And they can ask for your device’s password, too. You don’t have to give it, but it’s unlikely you’ll be allowed into the country if you don’t. The officer could even tell you that you’re banned from ever entering the United States, but there’s no legal basis for banning you for refusing to give a password, and lawyers say that such a ban could be challenged in court.

Of course, going to court is an arduous, expensive and time-consuming undertaking, one made all the more difficult by the fact that you’d have to sue in the US. You can seek the intervention of a supervisor while you’re being questioned and lodge a complaint with US Customs and Border Protection when you get home, but it may not make much difference. You can also report your experience to a local affiliate of the ACLU.

What about Canadian border guards? Do I have more rights as a Canadian when I’m coming back into Canada?

The right of every citizen of Canada to enter, remain in and leave Canada is protected by section 6 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But your other Charter rights are significantly curtailed at the border, including your right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and your usual protections against arbitrary detention and compelled self-incrimination.

Section 99 of the Customs Act gives Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) officers the power to “examine any goods that have been imported and open or cause to be opened any package or container of imported goods” – basically, to search your stuff. “Goods” are defined to include “any document in any form.” Section 11 requires entrants to Canada to “answer truthfully any questions asked by the officer in the performance of his or her duties”, and section 153 forbids making “false or deceptive” statements to customs officers or acting to “hinder or prevent” officers in performing their duties.

These laws were created at a time when people crossed the border with a suitcase and maybe a briefcase, not with digital devices containing deeply personal information including photos, text messages, emails and search histories. However, despite the Supreme Court of Canada’s clear acknowledgment in a recent digital privacy rights case that “it is unrealistic to equate a cell phone with a briefcase or document found in someone’s possession”,[1] the CBSA interprets its power to search “goods” as including a power to search cell phones and laptops, and warrantless, suspicionless searches of digital devices are a matter of routine.[2]

Image of CBSA badge by Dave Conner (Flickr Creative Commons)

Unlike the US, which has published a detailed Privacy Impact Assessment on border searches of electronic devices, Canadian policies are much more difficult to find, making it harder for Canadians to understand and assert their rights. Interim guidelines obtained through an Access to Information Request and provided to the BCCLA offer a glimpse into CBSA’s policy. Officers can request passwords, though not for information stored “remotely or online.” If a traveller refuses, the device could be seized and held for a forensic examination. Nothing in the law or guidelines prevents CBSA from then copying the entire contents of the device.

The guidelines also state that until further instructions are issued, CBSA officers shall not arrest a traveller solely for refusing to provide a password. In response to questions from media, Scott Bardsley, press secretary for the minister of public safety, recently confirmed that the guidelines are still in place. The BCCLA has not independently confirmed that the guidelines are still operative and, in any event, they are only guidelines and should not be relied on as a definitive statement of the law.

As we detailed in a previous blog post, in 2015 (prior to the enactment of the guidelines) a Montreal man was charged with hindering or preventing an officer from performing their duties under the Customs Act after refusing to give up the password to his Blackberry when a CBSA officer demanded it. Mr. Philippon ultimately abandoned a constitutional challenge to his arrest and pled guilty to the charge. Until another case comes along, we simply do not know whether the CBSA’s powers include compelling people to provide passwords (though we certainly know that CBSA acts as if they have this power), or whether it is constitutional to arrest someone for refusing (though we know that people have been arrested in these circumstances).

So what do I do?

Image of travel bag and contents by Do8y (Flickr Creative Commons)

The safest thing you can do is to leave your device at home when you cross the border. That may not feel very realistic or practical, but if your whole life is on your device, that’s all the more reason to leave it behind. If it’s seized, you could be without it for a very long time.

If you must travel with your digital device, here are some things to consider:

  • Make a full backup. A recent backup will ensure you have access to your data if your device is detained.
  • Turn off your device when you’re crossing the border, disable fingerprint unlocking and require a strong password to log on. This will prevent a CBSA officer, or anyone else who wants access to your data, from simply turning on your device and browsing through its contents.
  • Wipe your device of any files you want to ensure remain private. If you’ve stored your backup online (see point 1), you can even download your data back onto your device once you reach your destination.
  • Encrypt important documents and files, or consider full disc encryption. Encryption essentially scrambles the contents of your electronic device. The data is unlocked by a passphrase. More and more laptops and handheld devices are coming with disc encryption software built in.
  • Separate privileged or confidential documents from other files. Privileged information is given the most protection, and in theory should not be viewed by border officers at all other than to verify that it is what you claim it to be. This certainly includes lawyers’ files, and can sometimes include doctors’ and psychologists’ records. Journalists have a limited privilege over their sources. If you have privileged information on a device that a border guard wants to search, be sure to alert them to its presence. This is much easier to do if the privileged materials aren’t mixed in with unprivileged materials.

Some people may worry that crossing the border with a wiped phone or encrypted files may look “fishy” and could expose them to heightened suspicion and scrutiny. We can certainly understand these concerns and encourage everyone to use their best judgment given their own circumstances, vulnerabilities and needs.

The more that we assert our privacy rights and take active steps to preserve and defend them, the more we help normalize these privacy-protective measures and the less “fishy-seeming” they will become.

[1] R v Fearon, 2014 SCC 77 at para 51.

[2] R v Saikaley, 2012 ONSC 6794 at para 14.

Stay informed with BCCLA:

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2017 Bi-Monthly Update Series: January/February

To keep you informed, here are some key changes and updates made to Clicklaw in January and February (plus one March bonus):

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


Going to (Provincial) Court
by Provincial Court of BC

Most people attending court are nervous, but knowing what to expect can help. Here are answers to some of the questions you may have, depending on why you’re going to court.

Common Question: What if I want legal help for only part of my (family law) problem?

Unbundled legal services may be an option for those who want the advice and assistance of a family lawyer, but for whom hiring one from beginning to end is too expensive. Unlike the traditional full-representation model, a lawyer providing unbundled legal services works on, and charges you for, only those tasks that you agree to in advance. Read more at the Common Question page and see lawyers/paralegals who offer unbundled services on the Roster page.

Mothers Leaving Abusive Partners: Information on Custody and Access for Women with Children
by Legal Services Society and YWCA Vancouver

This updated resource contains information on: 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.

Court rules, forms and self-help guides to court procedures

All links to court forms changed this February as Ministry websites were redesigned. Our flow chart that helps you find the forms you may need when going to court (among other things) and has been updated with the latest links.

Service: BWSS Drop-In Family Law Information and Referral Clinic
by Battered Women Support Services

This clinic is designed to provide legal information to women who have urgent matters in family law proceedings; legal information, legal referrals and legal advocacy support will be provided during one to one appointments.

Starting a Franchise in B.C.
by BC Ministry of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction

This resource covers: What is a Franchise?, Franchisee Checklist, Questions to Ask when purchasing a franchise, Q&A on the new Franchises Act that came into force on February 1, 2017.

An Agenda for Justice
by Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch

The CBABC presents a series of reforms and recommendations aimed at improving access to justice for all British Columbians. An effective justice system is one that actively supports the ability of families, communities and businesses to evolve and thrive.

A Vision for Publicly Funded Legal Aid in British Columbia (March Bonus!)
by Law Society of BC

This report prepared for Benchers by the Law Society’s Legal Aid Task Force concludes that legal aid is a crucial part of the proper administration of justice in a free and democratic society. In a society based on the rule of law, every person must have equal access to the justice system. The report provides a brief history of legal aid in BC, sets out the need for a principled vision, and makes a number of recommendations to realize the Law Society’s Vision for Public Legal Aid in BC.

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Mar. 2017 Events – (Online, Burnaby, Richmond, Vancouver)

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, March 1 (11:30-12:30pm) Online Webinar: Live Demo of the Personal Planning Registry

Wednesday, March 8 (11:30-12:30pm) Online Webinar: Planning for Health and Personal Care

Wednesday, March 22 (11:30-12:30pm) Online Webinar: Planning for Financial and Legal Matters

  • March 2-April 27 (Wed & Thurs): Little Mountain Neighbourhood House at 3981 Main Street, Vancouver presents Free Income Tax Clinics

These clinics are offered to low income immigrants, students and seniors. You may be eligible if you have a simple tax situation and meet the suggested family income level. Your 2016 income was less than $30,000/individual or $40,000/couple. See poster for details. Please make appointment with Kim or Andrew by calling 604-879-7104.

Celebrate West Coast LEAF and International Women’s Day at the best event this side of noon!

Keynote speaker: Dr. Cindy Blackstock is Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and a professor in the School of Social Work at McGill University. A member of the Gitksan First Nation, Cindy has 25 years of social work experience in child protection and Indigenous children’s rights.

Get tickets online. Sales end March 7.

  • March 6-13 (Various Dates): People’s Law School 1004presents the following events in Burnaby and Vancouver:

Monday, March 6 (1:00-2:30pm) Richmond Public Library – 7700 Minoru Gate: Power of Attorney (Cantonese) – Contact 604-231-6413 or click here to register.

Monday, March 6 (7:00-8:30pm) Burnaby Public Library – 4595 Albert Street: Wills & Estates – Contact 604-299-8955 or click here to register.

Monday, March 6 (7:00-8:30pm) Burnaby Public Library – 6100 Willingdon Ave: Criminal Law – Steps Involved in a Criminal Case – Contact 604-436-5400 or click here to register.

Wednesday, March 8 (7:00-8:30pm) Burnaby Public Library – 7311 Kingsway: Bullying Between Older Adults in Social Spaces – Contact 604-522-3971 or click here to register.

Monday, March 13 (1:00-2:30pm) Richmond Public Library – 7700 Minoru Gate: Last Will and Testament (Cantonese) – Contact 604-231-6413 or click here to register.

The BC Society Act, which provides the rules for governance and incorporation of non-profits, officially proclaimed important changes on November 28, 2016. There will be a two year transition period by which time all societies in BC will have to make the switch to the new Act. This workshop will provide the information on the bylaw and policy changes necessary for your organization to effectively make the transition when the new Act is proclaimed.

Register Online. Tickets are $50.

  • Tuesday, March 21 (6:00-8:00pm): At the Downtown Vancouver Public Library (Alma VanDusen & Peter Kaye Rooms), join a public forum on Making a Plan for Justice.

To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racism – Join us for a public forum about access to BC’s justice system and the importance of public legal education. Speakers include: Kasari Govender, Executive Director, West Coast LEAF / Aleem Bharmal, Executive Director, Community Legal Assistance Society / Rick Craig, Executive Director, Justice Education Society / Lynda Hydamaka, Self-Represented Litigant in Provincial Family Court / Bill Veenstra, Vice-President, Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch.

Free Event. Light refreshments provided. Reserve your seats at mable.elmore.mla@leg.bc.ca or 604.775.1033.

The urgency of Canada’s Access to Justice crisis – where more than half of family litigants and around one third of civil litigants now come to court without a lawyer – is attracting growing attention with the justice system. But is A2J is an issue that the public cares deeply about? Surely, if the public were really concerned about A2J, we would hear campaigning politicians talking about it?

Drawing on data from the National Self-Represented Litigants Project, Julie Macfarlane will argue that we under-estimate the importance of A2J to growing numbers of people, and especially those both directly and indirectly affected by the self-represented litigant phenomenon. What will it take for this experience to be directly reflected in our political discourse?

Free to attend. No registration required.

Passed in 2010, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) is developed to help Canadian individuals, businesses and organizations deal with spam and other electronic threats. CASL limits online commercial messages and prohibits unwanted downloads of programs. All Canadian organizations must comply with the Act, including nonprofits, charities, and libraries. On March 22nd, Maanit Zemel, Principal and Founder of MTZ Law (www.casllaw.ca), will walk nonprofits through the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) for Non-Profits and Charities, and the next deadline for CASL that will come into effect on July 1st, 2017.

Register Online.

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Organization of the Month | February 2017

Introduction to the RSTP

The Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP) supports groups interested in the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) Program, through which Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents can engage in the resettlement of refugees.

RSTP works with many different types of sponsoring groups: Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) and their Constituent Groups (CGs), Groups of Five, and Community Sponsors across Canada (excluding Quebec).

The increase in interest in the PSR program and involvement from the public in the resettlement of Syrian refugees that Canada has witnessed since September 2015 dramatically increased demand for RSTP services. With additional funding support, RSTP has been able to expand its staff and programs to assist sponsors across the country. For the first time, RSTP placed Trainers in Vancouver and Halifax to provide more intensive regional support.

What do we do?

RSTP addresses information and ongoing training needs of private sponsorship groups (PSGs), and the initial information needs of sponsored refugees.

RSTP provides training to sponsorship groups via:

  • Webinar presentations
  • Workshops
  • Information sessions
  • Training manuals and guides
  • Online-based training courses

RSTP keeps sponsors informed about policy updates via:

  • Information sessions
  • E-mail distribution lists
  • the RSTP Website (rstp.ca)

RSTP assists sponsors with their case-specific questions by:

RSTP in Western Canada

The RSTP Trainer in Vancouver, BC works closely with PSGs in Alberta and British Columbia. RSTP’s activities in Western Canada include:

Workshops and Training Sessions

RSTP offers trainings and workshops to ensure that PSGs understand the requirements of the program and the level of commitment needed, assist them with preparing application packages and guide them through the sponsorship process. RSTP emphasizes post-arrival issues that private sponsors may encounter and make sure that they receive the necessary assistance with providing settlement support to sponsored refugees.

Support with case-specific inquiries

RSTP responds to e-mail and telephone inquiries from sponsorship groups in Alberta and BC requesting: assistance with completing application forms, clarification of eligibility requirements, obtaining application updates, and seeking support with finding necessary settlement resources.

Updates and Information Sharing

RSTP keeps abreast of policy developments and changes, including provincial initiatives in BC and AB, and informs sponsorship groups via an e-mail distribution list.

Networking and Outreach

RSTP takes part in community events, networking meetings, roundtable discussions, and other events that focus on refugee protection and resettlement issues.

When and how can I contact RSTP?

Please do not hesitate to contact RSTP if you:

  • Are interested in learning more about Private Refugee Sponsorship program;
  • Would like assistance with completing application forms;
  • Have a case-specific question related to a refugee individual/family whom your group is sponsoring;
  • Would like to get connected to a settlement service provider organization;
  • Have questions about preparing for the long-term and ending sponsorship period; and/or
  • Would like to learn about upcoming workshops, webinars, and other training events offered to private sponsorship groups.

RSTP is funded by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and administered by Catholic Crosscultural Services (CCS).

RSTP office in Ontario:

55 Town Centre Court, Suite 401 Toronto, ON M1P 4X4 Canada
E-mail: info@rstp.ca
Tel: 416.290.1700; Toll-free: 1.877.290.1701

RSTP Trainer in Western Canada:

Tel: 604.254.9626 ext. 517

 

 

Stay informed with RSTP:

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