2017 Bi-Monthly Update Series: November/December

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

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

Legal Services Society

  • Gladue Submission Guide
    This new, plain language booklet for Aboriginal peoples explains how to prepare a Gladue submission to help the judge decide bail or sentencing. Includes a Gladue factors checklist and a worksheet to help Aboriginal peoples, lawyers, and Native courtworkers gather information needed to prepare a submission.
  • Your Gladue Rights
    This revised booklet explains Gladue rights, rights under the Criminal Code that apply to anyone who identifies as Aboriginal. Gladue rights can apply at bail and sentencing hearings.
  • Sponsorship Breakdown
    This updated booklet is for permanent residents who need help when the person sponsoring them in Canada is no longer supporting them.

Provincial Court of BC

  • CFCSA flowchart (Child Protection Matters)
    Chart shows possible stages and orders in child protection proceedings under the Child, Family and Community Service Act, with notes – statute sections are hyperlinked to the Act.
  • Criminal Case Flowchart
    Stages in a Criminal Case: These notes provide more information about criminal procedure – the procedures set out in the Criminal Code of Canada to be followed in criminal cases.
  • BC Provincial Court Common Questions
    General information about the Provincial Court and the BC justice system.

Disability Alliance BC Help Sheets Update

The following help sheets on BC’s disability benefits have been updated:

Small Claims Trial Preparation Clinic
by Seniors First BC

Are you a senior representing yourself in a Small Claims Court proceeding? Call 604-336-5653 to find out more about this Trial Preparation Clinic. A lawyer will call you back to assess if the clinic is able to assist.

Mothers Without Status
by YWCA Vancouver

This updated booklet is for service providers assisting “mothers without status”. It now has new content on MCFD and has been updated for immigration and Family Law Act changes.

Financing Litigation Legal Research Project
by British Columbia Law Institute (BCLI)

The paper reviews six financing models to pay for litigation: unbundled legal services, third-party litigation funding, alternative fee arrangements, crowdfunding, legal expense insurance, and publicly funded litigation funds. It also discusses 18 ideas on how to enhance the use of each model.

Operating in Darkness: BC’s Mental Health Act Detention System
by Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS)

Mental health detentions in BC have increased dramatically over the last ten years. This report reveals several disturbing practices and points to a number of deep flaws in the BC Mental Health Act that do not comply with the rights guaranteed by the Charter and international human rights law.

2017 CEDAW Report Card
by West Coast LEAF

The annual CEDAW Report Card grades BC’s compliance with United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). BC’s record of action and inaction in the past year is assessed in nine key areas impacting the rights of women and girls.

The National Self-Represented Litigants Project

by the Government of Canada

Charterpedia provides legal info about the Charter and contains information about the purpose of each section of the Charter, the analysis or test developed through case law in respect of the section, and any particular considerations related to it. Each Charterpedia entry cites relevant case law.

Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family

Stay informed:


2017 Bi-Monthly Update Series: July/August

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

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

BCLI Report on Complex Stratas

This report discusses mixed-use and architecturally varied stratas and the three legislative tools that were introduced to manage legal issues surrounding them — sections, types, and phases. It also makes 68 recommendations for reform.

Disability Alliance BC HelpSheets Update

Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Benefit Application, Appealing Denial of PWD Benefit, Persons with Persistent and Multiple Barriers to Employment (PPMB) Benefit Application, and more.

Opportunities Advocacy Services – Campbell River Legal Advocacy Program

The program provides legal advocacy to low income residents in Campbell River and the surrounding area. Advocates provide information, assistance and representation on issues related to BC income assistance programs (benefits, disability assistance, PWD applications & appeals), federal income related programs (CPP, OAS, GIS, EI), residential tenancy disputes (tenants’ rights, mediation, representation in dispute resolutions), and consumer debt issues.

Access Pro Bono Residential Tenancy Program, Employment Standards program, Mental Health Program Telephone Clinic

  • Residential Tenancy Program: Provides free legal representation to low-income people appearing before the Residential Tenancy Branch (e.g. evictions, rent increases, loss of quiet enjoyment, security deposit withheld, need for repairs, etc.). Legal Representation is contingent on volunteers’ availability for each case as well as availability based on client location.
  • Employment Standards Program: Provides low-income employees with free legal representation before the Employment Standards Branch and/or the Employment Standards Tribunal on issues such as termination pay, vacation pay, overtime, etc. Legal representation is contingent on volunteers’ availability for each case as well as the availability of lawyers in the client’s location.
  • Mental Health Program: Provides individuals certified under the Mental Health Act and their relatives with free summary legal advice over the phone (e.g. right to a second opinion, how to apply for a review panel hearing, procedure at review panel hearings, etc.).

Seniors First BC – Legal Advocacy Program

The Legal Advocate provides legal services to people age 55+ who are not able to access legal help due to low income or other barriers for legal issues involving residential tenancy, government benefits and debt.

Legal Advocate Program for the North Okanagan

Help with income security including income assistance (welfare), both regular and disability benefits, CPP disability benefits, Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, and residential tenancy issues (for tenants). We provide legal information & referrals, and representation and advocacy at administrative hearings. Legal education on areas of service such as tenancy law and policy. The advocate can also be emailed at tishlakes@okadvocate.ca.

Fraser Thompson Indian Services Society (FTISS) – Family Support Program

The Family Support Worker works in the communities of Spuzzum, Boston Bar, Boothroyd and Oregon Jack Creek to help families, children and youth who are struggling to stay together or who just need some information or extra help. Help for families who are involved with or at risk of being involved with the Ministry of Children and Families.

BC Human Rights Clinic – Know Your Rights – what to do about discrimination

Provides useful information on identifying human rights discrimination and provides a walk through the formal system of filing a human rights complaint.

LSLAP Manual on Clicklaw Wikibooks (40th Ed.)

The Law Students’ Legal Advice Program’s (LSLAP) Annual Manual provides quick answers to many legal issues. It is made up of 22 chapters which amount to over 1,000 pages of printed materials. Originally designed as an educational resource for LSLAP students, it is now used by hundreds of organizations across British Columbia. Clicklaw Wikibooks and LSLAP have joined efforts to bring the Manual to the Clicklaw Wikibooks platform.

John Howard Society: Planning for Success

This guide was designed to help with release planning (to think about what you’re going to do once you’re no longer in custody), and contains information about government services and community-based organizations in our community.

CBABC Dial a Law Scripts – Various Updates

Common Law Relationships: Your Income, Support, and Property Rights; What Happens When Your Spouse Dies; Reporting Suspected Child Abuse; Getting Married; Changing Your Name; What is Small Claims Court; Suing Someone in Small Claims Court; Being Sued in Small Claims Court; Getting Your Judgment Paid; and more.

Stay informed:


Organization of the Month | January 2017

by Kathleen Cunningham
Executive Director

BC Law Institute Turns 20

Lisa A. Peters, Q.C., Chair of the BCLI Board and The Honourable Suzanne Anton Q.C. at #BCLI20

The BC Law Institute (BCLI) is British Columbia’s only independent, non-partisan law reform body. It includes the Canadian Centre for Elder Law.

Over the past 20 years BCLI has produced over 60 reports, study papers and resources. Our reports include detailed analyses of the evolution of a particular law, consider the policy issues and recommend reforms to improve the law and/or make it more relevant in today’s society. Our study papers examine legal issues and often identify areas of the law that might be the subject of a future project.

What’s happening in 2017

In 2017 we have a number of ambitious and interesting projects on the go – we continue our projects to address issues in BC’s strata property law, reform the Employment Standards Act and reform the Builders Lien Act. We are also working on a study paper on the options available for financing litigation when individuals must go to court to protect their rights. Finally, we are in the final stages of a project of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada which will propose a Uniform Vital Statistics Act that could be adopted in all provinces and territories to modernize and help ensure better consistency across the country in how vital events are recorded.

Celebrating 20 Years: Thank You.

We could not do the work we do without the support of hundreds of committee volunteers (over 370) and dozens of funders.  In January 2017, the BC Law Institute turned 20. We kicked off a year of celebration with an event in Victoria to both celebrate our achievements, but to also thank the many funders, supporters and committee volunteers who make it possible for our small team to do the work it does.

Guests were the first to see our 20th Anniversary video “Tending to our Laws” which is now available on our website on this web page. Thank you to our core funders – the Law Foundation of BC and the BC Ministry of Justice, all of our project funders, and to the sponsors of our 20th anniversary events – Gold Sponsor: Lawson Lundell; Silver Sponsors: BC Ministry of Justice, Spraggs & Co, Solvere; and Bronze Sponsor: Ramsay Lampman and Rhodes. Your support makes our work possible.

Q&A with the ED

CQ_iconKathleen Cunningham is the Executive Director of the BC Law Institute. BCLI is one of our top contributors to the Reform & Research section of Clicklaw, which serves as a public window to legal reform and innovations in BC. Here is a short Q&A we did to help you better understand what BCLI does:

I imagine some of our readership might be unfamiliar with BCLI. Could you tell me more about what you do? The laws that govern our lives are established in legislation and through the courts over time. The BCLI identifies laws that are outdated or need to be improved in order to better serve British Columbians.

The resources we produce assist lawyers and other professionals. They range from questions and answers on pension division on the breakdown of a relationship to understanding and addressing undue influence on a client who is making a will or a power of attorney. Many resources are designed to help health care professionals, seniors serving groups, and seniors themselves to understand elder abuse and how to prevent it, and respond when it occurs.

How is BCLI a unique organization? We’re BC’s only independent, non-partisan law reform body. We look to find the laws that are not working for people, and when we identify an area of the law that needs reform, we make sure government and other stakeholders are also interested in seeing work to identify how to improve this area of the law.

How do you identify these areas of need, the laws that “aren’t working”? We invite people to send ideas to us through email, and lawyers that know about us will bring ideas to us; we’ve had a number of projects brought to us this way – our Strata Property law reform project was brought to us by the Notaries of BC, we have an Employment Standards Act project that was brought to us by a lawyer who works in that area, so it can vary. We also monitor what’s being said: what are the courts talking about? What are the commentators discussing when court decisions come out?

Continue reading »

BCLI seeks your views on complex stratas

BCLI carries out scholarly research, writing and analysis for law reform, collaborating with government and other entities, and providing materials and support for outreach and public information.

by Kevin Zakreski
Staff Lawyer & Corporate Secretary

The British Columbia Law Institute wants to hear from you about its proposals to reform the Strata Property Act.

With the help of a volunteer project committee, BCLI is carrying out a multi-year project on strata-property law. The committee has just released its Consultation Paper on Complex Stratas (PDF).

Strata-property law started out as a way to encourage the development of high-density residential housing. Over time, stratas became increasingly complex. They have become more architecturally varied, incorporating different building styles. For example, a single strata development may have an apartment tower, surrounded by townhouses and other low-rise buildings. More and more, stratas are also combining different uses. It’s become common to see mixed-use stratas with retail and commercial uses on the lower floors and residential uses above.

These complex stratas have many benefits. They create variety in the marketplace. They support amenities that owners enjoy. And they advance urban-planning goals.

But complex stratas also create some problems. The bulk of these problems center on money.

It’s expensive to develop a large, sophisticated strata property. If it had to be done all in one go, only the biggest real-estate developers would be able to do it. And once a complex strata is up and running, the owners of strata lots being used for different purposes often have different ideas about how to spend the strata’s money and how to operate the strata. For example, commercial owners might need things like extra trash pickups and security patrols that don’t benefit residential owners. The residential owners may wonder why they should have to contribute to paying for these services.

The Strata Property Act uses three devices to manage these problems. These three devices are sections, types, and phases. They are at the heart of the consultation paper.

Sections and types allow a strata corporation to manage cost sharing between groups of owners, while phases permit the development of a strata property in segments over an extended time. Sections, types, and phases all entered the law in the 1970s. They haven’t been comprehensively reviewed since that time.

The committee considered some bold ideas to reform the law. It debated abolishing sections and greatly expanding the role of types. It looked at fundamentally changing the government oversight that attaches to phases.

In the end, the committee decided to not to propose bold changes. It proposes keeping the current framework, but with some significant fine tuning.

The consultation paper has 68 tentative recommendations for reform, including:

  • 29 tentative recommendations on sections, which propose clarifying the procedures for creating and cancelling sections, spelling out section powers and duties, and strengthening section governance, budgets, and finances;
  • 14 tentative recommendations on types, which propose clarifying the procedures for creating and cancelling types and fine-tuning the operation of types; and
  • 25 tentative recommendations on phases, which propose enhancing the oversight of the phasing process, simplifying governance in a phased strata corporation, and providing additional protections for the financial interests of owners in a phased strata property.

The committee would like to hear your thoughts on all 68 of its proposals. But if you would rather just focus on the big picture, then you may be interested in the summary consultation. It has just three highlighted proposals for comment.

You can find the full consultation paper, the summary consultation, and instructions on how to participate in the consultation on Strata Property Law Project—Phase Two webpage.

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