#WhyNotMediate: Conflict Resolution Week starts Oct. 17

By Mediate BC 

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Take a look behind the scenes to understand how mediation works

Mediate BC is hosting BC’s second annual Conflict Resolution Week, October 17-24, 2015.

During the week of October 17-24, Mediate BC and its Roster mediators will be organizing events throughout the province to build awareness of healthy ways to resolve conflicts, including mediation.

The Conflict Resolution Week 2015 theme is “Why Not Mediate?

#WhyNotMediate is the event’s official hashtag.

Mediation is a great option for many people because it’s private, has more flexibility in resolutions and typically is faster and less expensive than going to court. It saves people time, money and stress and allows them to get back to what’s important to them,” says Mediate BC’s CEO Monique Steensma. Steensma is supported by studies that show mediation to be an effective, affordable, timely and accessible option.

Check out free events in your local community.

Mediators invite you to take a “behind the scenes” look at the mediation process and what they do through a series of videos posted at mediatebc.com: Click here for the Behind the Scenes Videos

For questions and information contact: 1-877-656-1300 ext. 104 or training@mediatebc.com.

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Election Day is October 19th

election-l_eAre you registered to vote?

Check here. If you’re not registered, you can also sign up and/or update your address at that link by next Tuesday, October 13 at 6pm (local time).

Read about other ways you can register here – by mail, or in person.

Busy on the 19th? Vote in advance.

Advance Voting: Friday, October 9 to Monday, October 12, between noon to 8pm. Check your voter information card that was mailed to you for where to go to vote in advance. You can also find your advance polling address here.

Another option is to vote at any Elections Canada office or by mail. Read more about alternative voting options.

If voting in person, bring proper ID: e.g. your driver’s license. See other ID options.

What time can I vote on October 19?

Most of B.C. is on Pacific Time: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
For the pockets of B.C. on Mountain Time: 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Is my employer required to give me time off to vote?

Yes, most of us are entitled to 3 consecutive hours to vote on the 19th if you don’t have 3 hours outside of work for voting. Your employer gets to decide when. Read more about time off and some exceptions.

Has my riding changed?

Canada is divided into 338 ridings. One representative, or member of Parliament (MP), is elected for each riding. See the list of candidates for your electoral district here.

Federal riding boundaries are adjusted every 10 years. Thirty new ridings were created in the latest readjustment in 2013, affecting this year’s election – there are six more seats for B.C.

Your riding/electoral district’s information will be included on your voter information card that you receive in the mail, or look it up here. Once you’ve searched, click on “Where do I vote?” to see your location-specific information (see the highlighted section below):

Where_Vote

Extra Help

  • The Canadian Bar Association asked leaders of the main political parties to share their vision of equal justice for all Canadians. See their answers here.
  • VPL has put together a guide designed to help you to find information on a variety of topics related to the current and past Canadian federal elections. It includes a list of recommended books and links to party leader debates.
  • Multilingual Help: S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Federal Election Hotline operates from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday, October 5 until October 19 (except Thanksgiving Day October 12, 2015). Individuals can call 604-408-7260 for key election information in English, Cantonese and Mandarin with a new call back service for Farsi-speaking citizens.
  • Contact Elections Canada for more info: 1-800-463-6868 toll-free in Canada and the U.S., every day from 4am to 9pm Pacific Time.
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Disability Disclosure in the Workplace

By Shelley Hourston
Disability Alliance BC

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DABC invites (1) people with disabilities/chronic illness and (2) employers, to share stories and experiences that illustrate disclosure and accommodation in the workplace.

I’ve been writing about resilience for about 20 years now—most of that time I’ve worked at Disability Alliance BC (DABC). I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to talk to countless people with disabilities or chronic illnesses about their experiences.

Each story is unique but the common thread that intrigues me is the extraordinary creativity, commitment and determination that carries people forward despite their challenges. Our society focuses so exclusively on perceived deficits of disability that problem-solving, creative thinking and tenacity are overlooked. The consequences of disability deficit thinking is especially serious in the employment arena. Our experience at DABC led us to explore the flip-side of disability deficit thinking in the form of a guide to disability disclosure and accommodation in the workplace.

According to the Canadian Survey on Disability, 2012, there were 334,800 individuals aged 15-64 with disabilities in BC (10.8%).* Statistics Canada reports that in 2011, the employment rate of Canadians aged 25-64 with disabilities was 49% compared with 79% for those without a disability.** In BC, the $800/month ($9,600/year) earnings exemption for a single person receiving disability benefits provides an opportunity for people with disability/chronic illness to supplement their income with part-time employment.

Thanks to support from the Law Foundation of BC, DABC is developing a reader-friendly guide on the law relating to disclosing disability in employment settings. Disclosing Your Disability: A Guide for People with Disabilities In BC is intended for people with all types of disabilities (including visible and invisible disabilities and chronic illnesses). Some people are able to work full-time with appropriate accommodation while others may be able to work part-time. Others may be employed but face a need for disclosure due to acquired disability or chronic illness. The guide will address legal rights and responsibilities of disclosure and provide practical activities and worksheets to guide readers through self-assessment and to elicit and document individual strengths. A reference list of sample accommodations and resources will equip potential employees and employers with ideas and a place to begin planning.

We’d like help from you too. The guide will include six experiences of people with disabilities/chronic illness and six stories from employers to illustrate disclosure and accommodation in the workplace. If you know of someone who would be willing to share their experience, please ask them to contact me.

Shelley Hourston is a program director at DABC and can be reached at 604-875-0188 (toll-free 1-877-232-7400) or Shelley@disabilityalliancebc.org.

*Statistics Canada. Canadian Survey on Disability, 2012. Table 1.11: Prevalence of Disability for Adults by Sex and Age Group, British Columbia, 2012. 

**Statistics Canada. Persons with Disabilities and Employment (Insights on Canadian Society) by Martin Turcotte. 2014.

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The Power of Attorney Project Podcast Feature: Law Reform – from a BC Perspective

What is the Power of Attorney Project?

two year technology-based project funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program, that aims to educate adult children and seniors about Power of Attorney issues. In their Podcast series, legal, financial and social service experts share their knowledge and give individuals and families an opportunity to increase their understanding and to help them deal with some of the complex and difficult issues of aging.

The B.C. Perspective

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B.C.’s Representation Agreement Act inspired Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities

One of Clicklaw’s core contributors, Joanne Taylor, Executive Director of Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry, was recently featured in a podcast. She explains B.C.’s unique legal tools that empower people in B.C. to plan for the future.

Nidus was founded by citizens and community groups who were involved in the community-based reform of British Columbia’s adult guardianship legislation. Nidus is currently the only community-based resource in Canada devoted to personal planning. Its existence sets British Columbia apart as a leader in addressing the critical needs of an aging population.

Nidus is the expert on Representation Agreements, which are a legal model for supported decision making.  B.C.’s Representation Agreement Act inspired Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (2008) which calls on governments to implement legislation that ensures all adults receive support with decision making without the need to take away or restrict their rights. The Convention has been ratified by Canada.

Listen to the Podcast here. Conversation topics discussed include:

  1. What is Nidus?
  2. What is Nidus’s role?
  3. What legal documents are available in BC to plan for incapacity?
  4. Is it true that the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities looked to the Representation Agreement Act of BC for inspiration when it was drafted?
  5. What is the Nidus Personal Planning Registry and could you give us an example of how families can use it?

Webinar-Icon-Orange1-300x281September is Personal Planning Month

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Invite for Newcomer Youth from Across Canada

2015 Youth Action Gathering Conference – Vancouver. B.C. – Oct. 3 & 4

The Canadian Council for Refugees, in partnership with Vancouver Foundation’s Fresh Voices Initiative and MOSAIC, invite newcomer youth from across Canada to participate in the 2015 Youth Action Gathering Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The gathering brings together young immigrant and refugee leaders to learn, share, network and collaborate on actions towards common challenges and experiences of newcomer youth communities.

It is also an engaging weekend of leadership and skills building, developing peer relationships and FUN!

WHO Should Participate?

Everyone is welcome to apply; however, space is limited and priority will be given to:

  • Racialized* immigrant and refugee youth
  • Those who can make a commitment to attend the full event
  • Immigrant & refugee youth from across Canada, aged 16 to 25 years
  • Youth settlement workers and allies

*We recognize that race is a social construct, people as “racialized immigrant person” or “racialized people” are immigrants who also belong to a “racial minority”, “visible minority”, or are seen as “people of colour” or “non-White” (adjusted from OHRC).

Continue reading Invite for Newcomer Youth from Across Canada

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Tell the Chief Judge what you think about online publication of criminal court information

Update: Extension of deadline to October 1, 2015. In light of the interest shown in the issues raised by the Consultation Memo, the Chief Judge has extended the time for members of the public to make written submissions. Comments are now sought on or before October 1, 2015.

By the Provincial Court of British Columbia
Cross-posted from eNews

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Visit the Provincial Court of BC website: provincialcourt.bc.ca

The B.C. Provincial Court appears to be the only criminal trial court in Canada that provides remote online access to adult criminal court case information. You can access accused persons’ names, charges, bail orders and sentences through Court Services Online (CSO).

Online access like this raises unique tensions between fundamental principles of open courts, the presumption of innocence, and the extent to which personal information should be widely circulated when the outcome of a criminal charge is something other than conviction. The Court’s current policy is not to display case information on CSO after a case has ended if the case has resulted in a stay, withdrawal of charges, or an acquittal or dismissal. The Chief Judge is also considering whether to adopt a policy not to display information about cases that have resulted in “peace bonds” under section 810 of the Criminal Code.

Because there has not been a broad public discussion about what the limits on online publication of criminal case information should be, the Chief Judge invites members of the public, including the media, to comment on these aspects of judicial policy. A Consultation Memorandum has been posted to the Provincial Court website. It outlines the issues and asks for your views. Your comments and discussion will help the Chief Judge determine whether these policies need adjusting and whether they achieve an appropriate balance between openness and privacy considerations.

The Consultation Memorandum also deals with another issue. Members of the media have found that CSO blocks access to case information whenever a publication ban is made. The memorandum explains how publication bans work on CSO and why this blocking happens. The Chief Judge also invites comment on this policy and suggestions for reasonable alternatives.

Please read the Consultation Memorandum to find:

  • information about the policies limiting access to case information when a stay, withdrawal, acquittal or dismissal has been entered;
  • reasons for considering a change to include peace bonds, options for change; and
  • information about the effect of publication bans on the information available on CSO.

Then please send your comments by September 18, 2015 to:

info@provincialcourt.bc.ca Re: CSO Policy Consultation
OR
CSO Policy Consultation
Attention: Mr. Gene Jamieson, Q.C., Senior Legal Officer
Office of the Chief Judge, Provincial Court of British Columbia
337 – 800 Hornby Street, Vancouver, B.C.

… and share them on Twitter @BCProvCourt.

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Online Dispute Resolution in BC: Case Study #2

Intro | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3a | Part 3b


Our last Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) case study showcased Consumer Protection BC’s online platform.

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Resolve your dispute with Consumer Protection BC’s online platform

We have an update: the platform will be used as an early resolution tool for select BC-licensed debt collection agencies. Their aim is to help consumers who don’t feel comfortable speaking to debt collectors over the phone, and who would rather communicate online.

Visit Consumer Protection BC’s blog page for more info on the debt collection pilot project.

Small Claims BC

We now continue with our ODR series, this time focusing on Small Claims BC.

British Columbians who have disputes where the amount is no more than $25,000 turn to Small Claims Court to find a resolution. However, on average, claims take over a year to reach a judgment.

SmallClaimsBC.ca provides British Columbians with an alternative way to settle disputes without going to court using their ODR platform. Using ODR can help save time and money, which make sense as priorities when you are disputing a smaller amount.

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Click to enlarge infographic

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New users to the platform will be asked a series of questions to create an online profile before starting their claim. If you already have an account set up as a “returning user”, you need only enter your credentials to access the dashboard.

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Enter your information to complete your online account. This creates a dashboard where your claim(s) can be accessed and managed.

Continue reading Online Dispute Resolution in BC: Case Study #2

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Justice Theatre Heads to Haida Gwaii for Restorative Justice Forums

By People’s Law SchoolJustice_Theatre

This fall, the People’s Law School launches the first two of its Access to Restorative Justice Community Forums on the Haida Gwaii Islands. The forums, held in partnership with the Haida Gwaii Restorative Justice Program, will take place in Queen Charlotte City on September 15, 2015 and in Masset the following day. Additional restorative justice forums are scheduled for later in the fall in Prince Rupert and Terrace.

The aim of the community forums is to increase the use of restorative justice processes by victims of crime. The forums plan to address issues such as:

  • How can victims of crime and offenders have better access to the restorative justice approach?
  • What needs to be done to strengthen the relationships between police-based victim services and restorative justice agencies?

What is restorative justice?

Restorative justice seeks to repair the harm caused by crime by addressing the needs of victims, engaging the community in the justice process, and encouraging dialogue and healing. Restorative justice involves bringing together the victim, offender and members of the community to discuss the effects of the crime. At a restorative justice session the focus is on the impact of the crime and how to address the harm that was done.

In this approach, crime is understood not only as breaking the law, but as a violation of people, relationships and a disruption of the peace in the community.

Restorative justice principles draw from Aboriginal experience and tradition, including the belief that the community has primary responsibility for addressing crime.

You can find a description of restorative justice on the JusticeBC website.

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Do you know how a Bill becomes Law in Canada?

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How did Bill C-51 become law?

You’ve probably heard some rumblings about Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015. You likely don’t hear about most bills unless you are actively interested in law or politics, but Bill C-51 has struck a chord with everyday people who are concerned about their privacy rights. Here are some places you can go to learn about Bill C-51.

Do you know how Bill C-51 became law on June 18th? We’ll try and break it down for you.

Some basics first

canada_flagCanada’s Constitution defines the government’s powers and your rights. It includes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The constitution is the supreme law of Canada and all of our laws must conform to it, whether made by our courts or government law-makers (legislators). More on the Constitution here.

There are two primary sources of Canadian law (Quebec is an exception):

Continue reading Do you know how a Bill becomes Law in Canada?

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Online Dispute Resolution in BC: Case Study #1

Intro | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3a | Part 3b


Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is joining the legal landscape in BC, but many people–even some lawyers–are unfamiliar with its processes. We are covering the emergence and expansion of ODR in BC in a series of blog posts. (See our introduction here.)

In recent ODR-related news, the Civil Resolution Tribunal or “CRT” (which we discussed in our first post) has appointed 18 tribunal members. They will hear strata property and small claims cases, and will be able to make decisions that are binding and enforceable like court orders. You can read the press release from the CRT and BC Ministry of Justice here.

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In today’s post we focus on Consumer Protection BC’s ODR platform, a neutral online space where people can settle disputes with businesses, without going to court.

Click to view full infographic
Click to view full infographic

We created an infographic (below, right) which provides a snapshot of the process, from start to finish.

We tested the ODR tool ourselves, giving you an inside peek into the process, with screen captures to provide visual context.

Important note: the steps we took here are not exhaustive of the ways that you can resolve a dispute using ODR.

step01Create an account.  When you start a new dispute you will be asked questions regarding the nature of your complaint.

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But wait, there’s more!

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