2017 Bi-Monthly Update Series: May/June

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

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


Indigenous Law Research Unit (ILRU)

ILRU is committed to the recovery and renaissance of Indigenous laws. The following resources build awareness of Indigenous laws:

Legal Services Society

Legal Help for British Columbians
by Courthouse Libraries BC

All chapters have been recently reviewed and updated by a team of reviewers and contributors, all volunteers from the BC legal profession. This guide provides first steps to address over 40 common legal problems and information on where to get help. Published on Clicklaw Wikibooks, it is available in multiple media formats: wikibook, EPUB (for reading on a tablet or e-reader), PDF (print version), and printed books (will be available soon at public libraries across BC).

RDSP Tutorial
by PLAN Institute

This online tutorial helps you learn about Canada’s Registered Disability Savings Plan. You can navigate through the chapters at your own pace or go directly to a specific question from the list on the homepage.

Standardized wording for Bail, Probation and Conditional Sentence Orders
by Provincial Court of BC

This resource has a list of picklists, which are lists of standardized terms for court orders. They are stored in courtroom computers so a Court Clerk can use them to quickly and accurately capture the order a judge makes. When a judge decides to change the standard wording, a Court Clerk can edit the term accordingly.

Trans Rights BC
by Catherine White Holman Centre and the VCH Transgender Health Information Program

This website is part of a project that aims to disseminate human rights information that is accurate, accessible, and relevant to the safety and well-being of trans and gender-diverse individuals and their supportive allies across British Columbia.

Oversight at the Border: A Model for Independent Accountability at the Canada Border Services Agency
by BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA)

In this new report, BCCLA proposes a model for providing independent oversight and accountability to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). It also includes detailed recommendations on the components necessary to ensure effective, credible oversight and review of CBSA’s activities.

New Common Questions

With help from BC FIPA, we have added the following questions:

Updated common question: Is marijuana legal in BC?

Now includes the following resources from the federal government:

Stay informed:

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2017 Bi-Monthly Update Series: March/April

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

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


Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia

  • Navigator for Youth Transitioning to Adult Services
    Youth with disabilities in BC face challenges when transitioning from childhood to adult services. This program helps youth aged 14 to 25, their parents and members of their Transition Support Teams, connect with the services they need, such as disability benefits, health services, or school supports.

Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS)

Disability Alliance BC

The following help sheets are now available in 5 languages: Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Persian, Punjabi, Spanish.

Legal Services Society

Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry

People’s Law School

Each of the following publications now has a fresh new look, new content, and more practical guidance. Both are available in multiple media formats: wikibook, EPUB (for reading on a tablet or e-reader), PDF (print version), and printed booklet (order via Crown Publications).

  • Essentials of Consumer Law
    Explains consumer rights for common purchases and contracts. Now includes a new section on making a contract.
  • Scams to Avoid
    Covers 15 of the most common scams. Now includes new sections on romance scams, charity scams, and expanded coverage of online and computer scams.

Provincial Court of British Columbia

  • Guidelines for Using a Support Person in Provincial Court
    Many self-represented litigants find that having a trusted friend or family member with them to provide emotional support, take notes, and organize documents can be a big help. The BC Provincial Court recognizes this, and has adopted guidelines to make it easier to bring a support person to court.

Common Question – Provincial Court Resources for Everyone: Small Claims Court

On June 1, 2017, the limit for small claims will increase to $35,000 from $25,000. This page has been updated to include this information and a link to the New Small Claims Procedures from the Provincial Court of BC. Note: The Provincial Court Resources pages will be updated for May 2017.

Canadian Centre for Elder Law (CCEL)

  • Older Women’s Dialogue Project
    This project looks at law and social policy issues that affect older woman and explores what can be done to address barriers to their quality of life.
  • Older Women’s Legal Education Project
    A collaboration with West Coast LEAF, this project tries to enhance the capacity of seniors-serving professionals to support older women fleeing violence occurring in the family and to inform older women of their rights in situations of abuse.

Stay informed:

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Increasing BC Hydro rates drive request for an electricity affordability program for BC’s poor

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BCPIAC represents low and fixed income people of BC in utility regulation matters, and works on strategic anti-poverty and social justice issues in BC courts and tribunals.

By Erin Pritchard
Staff Lawyer, BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre

In September 2015, BC Hydro filed a Rate Design Application (RDA) with the BC Utilities Commission (Commission). This means the Commission, BC Hydro and stakeholders will review rate structures (how BC Hydro charges customers for its services) and terms and conditions of service for residential, business and industrial customers.

In this proceeding, the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre (BCPIAC) will ask the Commission to implement rate relief, emergency bill assistance, and specific terms and conditions for low income BC Hydro ratepayers.

BC Hydro rates are increasingly unaffordable for low income customers

About 170,000 (10%) of BC Hydro’s residential customers are “low income”, meaning they are living at or below Statistics Canada’s Low Income Cut Off (LICO).  People living in poverty have a hard time paying for essential services such as electricity when their incomes are stagnant. Since electricity is essential to survival, energy bills can only be paid at the expense of competing household necessities, such as food and medicine.

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“Since electricity is essential to survival, energy bills can only be paid at the expense of competing household necessities, such as food and medicine.”

BC Hydro residential electricity rates have increased by 47% in the last 10 years, and are on track to increase by another 10.5% in the next three years. Rates are projected to continue to rise significantly in future years as the government continues to order BC Hydro to build multi-billion dollar projects like the Site C dam without a full public review of those projects by the Commission. While rate caps are currently keeping BC Hydro rates artificially low, project expenditures will eventually be collected from ratepayers.

BC Hydro’s rate increases have far outpaced increases in provincial income and disability assistance rates and the BC general minimum wage over the same time period. Over the last 10 years, BC social assistance rates have only gone up by $100 or less (for a single person) and the BC general minimum wage by $2.45 an hour.

BC Hydro currently offers no rates or terms and conditions that specifically apply to low income customers.  It offers two programs to its low income customers:

  1. Energy Savings Kits that include a few energy saving products which, if fully installed, might save $30 per year, and
  2. In more limited cases, energy efficiency home upgrades through BC Hydro’s Energy Conservation Assistance Program. This program is not available to BC Hydro customers living in apartments.

While such energy efficiency programs are important, they are not a stand-alone response to low income customers’ increasing inability to afford their power bills – they are only one element of what must be a comprehensive low income bill affordability strategy.

What is BCPIAC doing to help?

In the RDA, BCPIAC will ask the Commission to order that BC Hydro:
Read more about how you can help

Benefits and Services: Social Assistance on Reserve

Social Assistance on ReserveFood, shelter and clothing: these are the basic necessities that directly impact our quality of life. Meeting basic needs can be a challenge on reservations. If you live on reserve and are struggling to pay for food, shelter and clothing you can apply for social assistance.

The LSS Aboriginal Legal Aid BC website has information to help get you started with an application. Below are highlights from the website; visit the site for more detail:

Who can get social assistance

You must be:

  • an adult (19 or over)
  • live on reserve in BC; and
  • one of the following:
    • a Canadian citizen
    • a permanent resident
    • a Convention refugee, or
    • a sponsored immigrant whose sponsor can’t or won’t provide support. (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada will decide whether this is the case.)

What is social assistance?

Social assistance is money and other benefits for people who:

  • live on reserve
  • don’t have enough money to meet their needs
  • have no other reasonable way of getting money

In addition to regular benefits, social assistance benefits can include additional benefits for: people with certain types of physical or mental disabilities, people with medical conditions and people who face undue hardship issues like hunger and eviction. Some of these additional benefits are short-term and time-limited.

Where and how to apply for social assistance benefits

You can apply for social assistance with the band social development worker for the reserve you live on. You can reach them by calling the band office for your reserve.

For more information on the types of benefits, how to apply, and who can help, visit the LSS website here: Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC