By Andrew Sakamoto
Executive Director, TRAC
TRAC provides information on residential tenancy law to tenants and advocates across British Columbia. Our services include a Tenant Infoline, legal education workshops, multilingual publications and a website/social media. We work with all levels of government, other community organizations and the general public to promote the legal protection of tenants and the availability of affordable rental housing in BC.
As a small organization with a provincial mandate, we rely on technology to help us educate communities across the province. One way we do is by making our resources accessible through Clicklaw.
Recently, we also launched our new website! The design is modern and clean, and our content has been organized in a way that allows users to quickly find answers to their legal questions.
Here are some of the highlights of our new site:
- Tenant Survival Guide – One of the most popular legal publications in the province, our TSG offers a comprehensive yet plain language overview of tenants’ and landlords’ rights and responsibilities.
- Template Letters –When issues arise during a tenancy, tenants should communicate their concerns to their landlord on paper. TRAC offers 27 template letters to use as a starting point.
- Tenant Info Pamphlets – TRAC has created a pamphlet that covers the fundamentals of residential tenancy law, and translated it into 18 languages. For tenants whose first language is not English, this is where to look.
- All content pages on our website can be printed as nicely formatted fact sheets. Online information is important, but so are hardcopy resources. Feel free to print and distribute our fact sheets to friends, family members, clients and landlords
At Clicklaw, we use Google Analytics to track which pages are getting the most views, as well as where people are following through and clicking on links to resources and services on other websites.
There are of course other factors to consider in calculating resource helpfulness, but here is an interesting snapshot of the seven most viewed and clicked resource topics and links of the past year:
1) HelpMap: The Clicklaw HelpMap helps provide access to free low-cost legal advice and legal information services in BC. You can look for services related to a particular topic in a particular city in BC using the search tool located on this page.
Although people referred to fact sheets and written resources, it was clear that many were also seeking additional in-person help. Our most popular service pages referred to were for the Family Justice Centres and Court Registries in BC.
Are you representing yourself with a Canada Pension Plan Disability appeal to the Social Security Tribunal? Are you a community worker who helps people who are in this situation? If so, you’ll want to make sure you check out the Society Security Tribunal self-help guide from the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities.
This guide, updated in May 2014, is written for people who are representing themselves on a CPP Disability appeal at the Social Security Tribunal. Peter, a legal advocate at the Coalition, reports that they’ve heard from a number of people who have used the guide and found it very helpful. He describes this updated plain language guide is the only online resource that provides a comprehensive overview of how the Social Security Tribunal works. The guide includes sections on:
- how to assess the merits of your case,
- the decision making process,
- starting your appeal
- the hearing file
- preparing your case
- your written submission
- at the hearing
- after the hearing
It also includes definitions, and provides tips on using case law. This guide and other resources on Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits can be found through the Clicklaw website.
Kinbrace is a community-based organization that provides refugees with housing and support. They’ve recently updated their guide, Refugee Hearing Preparation: A Guide for Refugee Claimants. This resource is now available in 4 languages: English, Spanish, Chinese (Simplified) and Arabic.
“I went through the Guide again and again before my refugee hearing. The step-by-step instructions, timeline, and recommendations were so useful for me. It’s friendly and relieved my stress.”
— Ioann, Convention Refugee in Canada
The guide can be used to:
- learn key refugee legal issues
- track your refugee claim on the right timeline
- learn strategies to help prepare for your refugee hearing
- complete the hearing preparation checklist
- get answers to frequently asked questions
- find legal and community resources in Metro Vancouver
The guide, updated in 2014, now includes more detail. Fran from Kinbrace describes it as “…interactive. Claimants can track the fast paced timelines that are in place under the new refugee claim process with their own due dates, take note of the evidence that they have on each issue and use the checklists for submitting the refugee application form and for submitting evidence to the Immigration and Refugee Board.”
This guide and other resources for refugees in BC can be found through the Clicklaw website.