Seniors First BC Society (Seniors First BC) provides pro-bono legal services to older adults age 55+ who cannot afford to hire a lawyer.
We may provide legal services for issues such as:
Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement
Assisted Living/Residential Care
Powers of Attorney
Seniors First BC accepts calls from older adults and people who care about them from anywhere in BC. To speak to a lawyer, contact the Seniors Abuse and Information Line at 604-437-1940 or toll-free 1-866-437-1940 and one of our lawyers may be able to assist.
We also offer free in-person legal consultations for older adults in Richmond, New Westminster, Surrey, Burnaby, North Vancouver and Vancouver once a month. To book an appointment at one of our legal clinics, contact 604-336-5653.
This handbook is meant to help you make sense of the current state of play with respect to electronic searches at the Canadian border and at US preclearance zones in Canada, and to provide tools to protect your privacy when traveling with electronic devices.
This online app helps people complete documentation for joint-filing divorces in the Supreme Court of BC in cases without children. Joint-filed divorces are where both applicants agree on all family law issues relevant to their situation, such as spousal support and the division of family property.
This guide deals with provincial violation tickets – for offences under BC laws, including traffic offences under the Motor Vehicle Act and regulations, and offences under the Liquor Control and Licensing Act.
Roommate Guide – The guide is designed to help increase successful roommate situations. Includes information about roommate agreements, common roommate issues, and what to do when things don’t work out.
Back to top Infographic: Marine Protected Areas – Human activities like fishing, shipping and oil exploration increasingly put pressure on our oceans and marine life. This infographic highlights the benefits of Marine Protection Areas (MPAs) in Canada. Legal protections in MPAs can help save our seas.
Infographic: Oil and Marine Protection Don’t Mix – Along the Atlantic coast, the ocean does not have consistent protection from oil and gas development. Oil and gas is even permitted within the boundaries of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). This infographic shows the inconsistent regulation of oil and gas across Canada’s coasts and MPAs.
Guardian Watchmen: Upholding Indigenous Laws to Protect Land and Sea – For thousands of years, the Indigenous peoples of BC have protected and managed the lands and waters. Recently, through the creation of ‘Guardian Watchmen’ programs, nations have continued to uphold their governance responsibilities. Guardian Watchmen follow, enforce, and uphold traditions.
Infographic: Protecting BC’s Coast – This infographic outlines the need for two policy decisions, banning oil tanker traffic on BC’s North Coast and implementing a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on BC’s North Coast, as essential pieces of protection for BC’s rich natural resources.
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to physical devices (smart/connected devices) that connect to each other via the internet. This website helps you understand how to protect your privacy and security if you are using them at home. It also has a section for small/medium business owners.
Reviewed & updated Common Questions
With help from Seniors First BC, we have reviewed and updated the following questions:
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.
September 5 – 14 (various dates): Access Pro Bono presents the 11th Annual Pro Bono Going Public in Vancouver and Surrey, and also by phone.
Wednesday, September 5 (10:00 am – 2:00 pm) City Hall Plaza, Surrey
Friday, September 7 (10:00 am – 4:00 pm) Victory Square Park, Vancouver
Wednesday, September 12 (10:00 am – 4:00 pm) Vancouver Art Gallery, North Plaza, Vancouver
Friday, September 14 (2:00 – 4:00 pm) Telephone clinic, BC-wide
In each free legal advice-a-thon location, volunteer lawyers will work in one-hour shifts throughout the day to advise individual clients in an open-air setting. Clients will be low- and modest-income individuals, including homeless people who may otherwise have limited access to traditional free legal advice clinics. Some clients will have pre-scheduled appointments, while others will simply drop in for free advice on a wide range of legal issues. Get more information here.
Improperly conducted workplace investigations can place you and your organization at considerable risk. Organizations are being sued for improperly conducted harassment investigations. You need to be sure that you handle all investigations in a way that doesn’t place your organization at risk. Learn how to handle workplace harassment investigations from the experts at our free webinar. This webinar will be of interest to HR managers, program managers, executives and nonprofit leaders. Get more information and register online here.
This workshop reviews the key foundations of the Act and how it affects the ongoing work of your board and organization. This Part 1 workshop will focus specifically on key governance and legal compliance issues. Part 1 will also address some common questions about basic corporate attributes and the difference between corporate status and tax designation and provide the basic hierarchy of rules that societies must follow. Cost: Member- $95.00; Non-member- $110.00. City of Vancouver bursary available. Get more information and register online here.
September 10 – 28 (various dates): MOSAIC presents various workshops in Burnaby, Vancouver, and Surrey.
Tuesday, September 18 (12:30 – 2:00 pm): Indigenous Legal Studies at Peter A. Allard School of Law presents Jim Reynolds and his book Aboriginal Peoples and the Law at Indigenous Classroom, Rm 123, UBC Vancouver.
Can Canada claim to be a just society for Indigenous peoples? As part of the process of reconciliation, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission urged a better understanding of Aboriginal law for all Canadians and Jim Reynolds responds to that call in his latest book “Aboriginal Peoples and the Law: A Critical Introduction.” Get more information here.
September 18 – 27 (various dates): Seniors First BC presents various workshops in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Surrey, and Richmond.
Wednesday, September 19 (10:00 am – 4:30 pm) Introduction to WCB – Level: Beginner. A basic overview of the Workers’ Compensation system as it applies to workers who are injured or develop an occupational disease on the job.
Wednesday, September 26 (9:30 am – 4:00 pm) Canada Labour Code – All levels. This new course is designed to provide an understanding of key
aspects of the code and its application to the unions and employers covered by federal labour law.
On April 1, 2019, the CRT will begin resolving certain motor vehicle personal injury disputes in BC. Community groups are invited to an information session to find out more about how the CRT works and how we’re implementing this new area of jurisdiction. This session and another one in October will be held at the CRT office in downtown Vancouver. If you are not able to participate in person, please let us know and we will provide you with call-in information. Get more information and register online here.
Wednesday, September 26 (5:30 – 8:30 pm) the 63rd Annual General Meeting at Bonsor Recreation Complex, Burnaby. Light refreshments will be served at 5:30 pm. Members, community partners, and new members are all welcome. Get more information and RSVP details here.
Join us for our 8th BC Information Summit as we explore how the changing perceptions of the right to know versus the right to one’s privacy are being shaped. As technological innovation continues to evolve and connect our world, it is time for our information and privacy frameworks to catch up. Commissioners and committees are calling for a change to the systems. In terms of the BC freedom of information system, there is the potential for change on the horizon as we await the results from the provincial public consultation. Federally, there is still a lot of work to be done. This conference has assembled a range of experts from varying backgrounds to look at these developments and what they might mean for information and privacy rights. Get more information and register online here.
Thursday, September 27 (5:30 – 9:00 pm): Disability Alliance BCpresents Fall Fling Gala and Fundraiser at the Italian Cultural Centre in Vancouver.
Fall Fling is a fun evening out and a great way to connect with friends and colleagues from BC’s diverse disability community. And your attendance is an opportunity to show your support for our work and for British Columbians with disabilities. All proceeds from Fall Fling benefit people with disabilities through Disability Alliance BC’s programs and services. DABC’s Executive Director, Jane Dyson, is retiring this year and this will be her last DABC gala. We really hope you can join us to help celebrate her 20-year legacy advocating for people with disabilities! Get more information and register online here.
Justice Hack BC is a coding-encouraged-but-not-required hackathon/designathon. It is part of BC’s Access to Justice Week and aims to facilitate knowledge-sharing, and community-building around BC justice issues. Technologists, business people, designers, and justice system actors (including lawyers) can all benefit from attending. Justice Hack BC is designed to provide a deep level of knowledge-sharing between participants that will enhance their careers while gaining a detailed level of knowledge about challenges in the justice system, meeting new people with similar interests and complementary abilities, and (most importantly) having a good time. Get more information and purchase the tickets online here.
BC’s inaugural Access to Justice Week is coming soon in the first week of October. Here’s one of the events planned for the week:
Monday, October 1 (8:45 am – 12:05 pm): Innovate BC presents the AI Challenge at the Joseph & Rosalie Segal Centre, Harbour Centre in Vancouver.
A half-day event featuring keynotes, panels, and presentations from industry and government leaders. Spend your morning learning how AI innovation is transforming the public and justice sectors and what that means for residents of British Columbia. Admission is free but seats are limited. Get more information and register online here.
As a community, we have witnessed firsthand that youth with cerebral palsy and other disabilities already face significant difficulties in securing employment. A common barrier is the confusion that surrounds workplace procedures such as disclosures and accommodations. Though the BC Human Rights Code serves to protect youth in the workplace, we realized that the provision of safe spaces and legal expertise for youth to have discussions about joining the workforce is necessary and important.
On top of those barriers, youth with disabilities are disproportionately affected by mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, preventing them from fully participating in the workforce. Young people who participate in the Choices in Supports for Independent Living (CSIL) program and hire their own caregivers also require insight and understanding of an employers’ role and obligations.
Knowledge is empowerment
We have responded to this need by inviting legal experts to explore the topics of disclosure, accommodations and other related workplace topics in a series of workshops. These workshops are open to youth living with disabilities, their caregivers and other interested community members. We hope that access to legal expertise that caters to youth living with disabilities can support and empower them to join the workforce on an equal basis with other citizens.
At the Cerebral Palsy Association of BC, our vision is to create a Life without Limits for people living with disabilities and this includes the ability to seek employment and financial stability. We would love for you to join us!
Thursday, August 9 (7:00 – 8:30 pm): People’s Law School presents a workshop on Wills and Estates at Burnaby Public Library – Tommy Douglas Branch.
Make sure your estate will be distributed according to your wishes. Learn how to prepare a will, including the legal requirements, what you should include in your will, and what happens if you die without a will. Get more information and register online here.
Wednesday, August 22 (1:30 – 2:30 pm): Seniors First BC presents a workshop at Barclay Manor in Vancouver.
Nighat Afsar, Legal Advocate, will be available to speak about Government Benefits for Older Adults and there will be time for Q&A during and at the end of this workshop. Get more information here.
Friday, August 24 (3:45 – 6:00 pm): Cerebral Palsy Association of BCpresents the first of a workshop series titled Mental Health in the Workplace: Rights and Responsibilities of Youth with Disabilities at the Richmond Centre for Disability, Richmond.
This workshop series will address the issues of mental health in the workplace for youth with disabilities. The workshops will be given by two lawyers. To register for these workshops contact Denzil at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-408-9484. Get more information here.
By Mark Abbott, Courthouse Libraries BC – Information Services
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a new global standard for privacy law, came into effect on May 25, 2018. The GDPR gives citizens of the European Union (EU) more control over their personal information and how organizations all over the world can use their data. The regulation is far-reaching, applicable to Canadian organizations if they offer goods and services to and/or monitor the behaviour of EU citizens.
This new law comes at an interesting time as news stories circulate of large data breaches in both the public and private sectors. Our lives are inextricably intertwined with and operating in the digital ether. One example of this is the growing adoption of “Smart Home Technology”. Smart Home Technology allows various types of devices to connect to the internet, to offer automation services that either provide convenience, efficiency, and/or security.
In this new world of opportunity, how can we protect our personal data? We consulted BC and Canadian privacy and security experts for tips on how you can take preventive measures against having your data stolen and some precautions to take with smart home technology.
What is Smart Home Technology?
Smart Home Technology includes devices connected to the internet that exchange data with each other, commonly referred to as the “Internet of Things,” or IoT. Examples range from dimmer light switches, monitored thermostats, wireless speaker systems, to smartphones, Amazon Echo (powered by Alexa) and Google Home.
Precautions and Awareness
Before you start using smart home technology, there are some important considerations, according to Vincent Gogolek, former executive director of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (BC FIPA). “The first precaution should be to look at whether the convenience offered by a particular device is of real use to you compared to the potential downside risks,” he says. “Does your toaster really need to be connected to the internet?”
In terms of awareness, Vincent suggests we keep ourselves informed about features we might not even realize are a potential problem. “Microphones that allow voice commands are able to record everything that goes on in that room, and it is often unclear when recording is on, how long it is stored, where it is shared and what may be done with the personal information it collects.”
Practical steps to protect yourself
Former Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian is a vocal and tireless advocate for data security and safeguarding our personal information. We spoke with Dr. Cavoukian about some practical steps you can take to protect yourself.
“At this point in time, refrain from bringing these connected devices into your home,” she says. “Your home is your last bastion of privacy and these devices completely erode that.” Dr. Cavoukian believes that in the wake of the GDPR coming into effect, there’s a better chance we’ll have greater protection.
If you simply can’t wait to have that Amazon Echo or smart refrigerator in your home, “you have to, unfortunately, read the Terms of Service these companies provide,” she cautions–even if those service agreements remain long and tedious–particularly if you want to know how your information is stored and used by third parties. Equipping yourself with this knowledge helps you make an informed decision as to whether or not you want to engage with the technology.
Learn more about your privacy rights
Clicklaw has a couple of resources available on the above topics:
The Internet of Things: From the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, this introduction to privacy issues – with a focus on the retail and home environments – is a handy starter guide. You can read the entire guide on the webpage or download it as a pdf.
Get Cyber Safe – Cyber Security Risks: From the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness site “Get Cyber Safe”: The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to physical devices (smart/connected devices) that connect to each other via the internet. This website helps you understand how to protect your privacy and security if you are using them at home. It also has a section for small/medium business owners.
BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (BC FIPA) published their report “Connected Cars” in the spring of 2015. Be on the lookout, as BC FIPA’s new executive director, Sara Neuert, said an updated report will likely be published by early fall. Read the report here.
This morning, the BC Ministry of Attorney General announced the new Online Divorce Assistant Application. This new online tool will assist people in BC to finalize divorces. It is intended to speed up processing times and to help get rid of filing errors.
Who is it for (currently)?
agree on all family law issues applicable to them – such as spousal support, and dividing family property and debt(s);
do not have dependent children; and
who intend to “joint-file” their divorces (work together, in cooperation, to get the job done).
Currently, 30% of the 10,000 divorces filed every year in BC are filed jointly.
How do I use the App?
You can use the Online Divorce Assistant on any smartphone or computer, but it is ideally viewed on devices that are at least tablet-sized. It takes about 15-30 minutes to complete.
What does the App do?
Once you go through the app and answer all its questions, you can print out the finished documents and take them to a BC Supreme Court registry for filing.
Will the App change over time?
According to the Ministry, “Plans are underway to expand the Online Divorce Assistant in coming months to include joint-filing divorces in cases that involve children.”
A program designed to help trans* folks get proper ID. We work one-on-one with anyone who identifies as trans, two-spirit, non-binary, or otherwise gender-diverse to apply to change their name and/or gender marker and acquire updated IDs. We are able to cover any costs that we cannot get waived by the organizations themselves.
West Coast Environmental Law offers free legal advice to help community groups, First Nations and individuals understand their environmental rights. We also offer funding support through our Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund (EDRF), which connects British Columbians with a network of private environmental lawyers around the province willing to work at a legal aid rate.
The Northwest Burke Vision: Principles and Recommendations
This report prepared for the Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable contains recommendations to ensure that proposed residential development in Coquitlam, British Columbia, will be ecologically sustainable and support a healthy watershed.
Effective May 25, 2018, some organizations subject to PIPA must also comply with the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This guidance helps organizations in BC determine whether they are subject to the GDPR and explains how to comply with both PIPA and the GDPR.
Guidelines for Obtaining Meaningful Consent
This document sets out practical & actionable guidance regarding what organizations should do to ensure that they obtain meaningful consent. It contains information about the guiding principles for obtaining consent, determining the appropriate form of consent, and the legal requirements.
Friday, July 13 (2:00 – 3:00 pm): Disability Alliance BCpresents a free workshop on Registered Disability Savings Plan at RBC Cambie & Broadway, Vancouver.
Under 50? Learn how to open a Registered Disability Savings Plan account and receive up to $1,000 per year. Get more information here.
July 14 – 23 (various dates): Seniors First BC presents workshops in Vancouver and Burnaby.
Saturday, July 14 (11:00 am – 12:00 pm) Elder Abuse: What Is It? How Do We Deal With It? Workshop (in Mandarin/Cantonese) – 228-2055 Boundary Road, Vancouver. Get more information here.
Monday, July 16 (10:00 – 11:45 am) Elder Abuse and Social Connection Workshop – MOSAIC 5575 Boundary Road, Vancouver. Get more information here.
Thursday, July 19 (8:00 am – 4:00 pm) Seniors’ Health and Safety Fair – Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre, 181 Roundhouse Mews, Vancouver. Get more information here.
Friday, July 20 (11:00 am – 12:00 pm) Powers of Attorney, Joint Bank Accounts and Representation Agreements Workshop – South Burnaby Neighbourhood House, 4460 Beresford Street, Burnaby. Get more information here.
Monday, July 23 (10:00 – 11:45 am) Elder Abuse and Social Connection Workshop – MOSAIC 5575 Boundary Road, Vancouver. Get more information here.
Monday, July 16 (6:00 – 11:30 pm): PovNet presents a burger and beer social at the Morrissey, 1227 Granville Street, Vancouver.
This event is for PovNet members, front line workers, social justice lawyers and all the wonderful people we’ve had the opportunity to work with throughout the year. Come and join us for a burger and beer social at the Morrissey! Please reserve a ticket as soon as possible. Bring colleagues and friends (include them in your ticket numbers or forward them the link to grab their own ticket). Get more info and reserve your ticket here.
Friday, July 20 (1:00 – 2:30 pm): Nidus presents a free presentation on Personal Planning at South Granville Seniors Centre, Vancouver.
Are you prepared in case of incapacity, for end-of-life, or for other support needs? Find out about the essential planning documents you can make – to ease the burden on others and avoid the need for government involvement in your personal affairs. No registration is required. Get more information here.
The training program is offered to self-identified women who want to obtain the necessary skills to volunteer for our direct services (intake & crisis line, women’s support groups, court accompaniment, community events, special projects and ongoing training, and more). The training will be held every Friday from September 21st to December 7th, 2018. Get more information by calling Claudia at 604-687-1868 ext. 308 or sending an email to email@example.com.
Saturday, July 28 (3:30 – 5:30 pm): QMUNITY presents Trans ID Clinic (Drop-in) at its accessible office in Vancouver.
Qmunity’s Transgender ID Change Clinic provides basic notarial services for low-income transgender individuals who are applying for a legal name change and/or to change gender markers on their identification. To make an appointment, or if you have any questions about the Clinic, please email us at TransID@qmunity.ca. Get more information here.
by an ILRU Master’s Student at UVic Faculty of Law
What is the ILRU?
The Indigenous Law Research Unit (ILRU), housed in UVic’s Faculty of Law, is the only research unit dedicated to the restatement and revitalization of Indigenous law in Canada.
ILRU partners with Indigenous communities, at their request, to articulate their own legal principles and processes, on their own terms, in order to effectively respond to today’s complex challenges. ILRU also works to deepen broader engagement with Indigenous law through the delivery of workshops and development of academic and public legal education resources.
As a recent graduate from UVic law and now master’s student, this work is significant to me because all of ILRU’s works starts from the position that Indigenous laws are real, are alive, and are capable of being known and publicly applied. Although it is hard to imagine for some, it was not that long ago that Indigenous people could not even hire a lawyer let alone research and promulgate their own laws and traditions.
Roots in Truth and Reconciliation
ILRU has helped stoke the fires of the legal traditions it has worked with since it emerged in 2012 from a national partnership with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) and the Indigenous Bar Association. The first ILRU project had a significant impact on the TRC’s Calls to Action and was so ground-breaking that Indigenous communities began to contact the ILRU directly to request partnerships to research their own laws. Since that time, ILRU has partnered with Indigenous communities on a wide breadth of legal issues and questions. Currently, ILRU is engaged in nine projects ranging from creating Indigenous law curriculum for use in law schools to work that is aimed at examining the principles and processes in an Anishinaabe legal tradition that relate to community governance.
The Joint Degree Program – Juris Indigenarum Doctor (JID) & Juris Doctor (JD)
The JID/JD dual degree is truly groundbreaking. Similar to the position taken by ILRU, the program begins from the understanding that Indigenous laws are real, knowable, and can be critically examined and worked with by both insiders and outsiders. This program is a double degree that will, throughout the four-year program, instruct students on the complete content of a Canadian common law degree and aspects of various Indigenous legal traditions for the purpose of increasing the students’ capacity to work with and within these legal traditions.
One of the most exciting components about the JID/JD program is the field course that students will undertake during their third and fourth years and comprise the entirety of their course load during the semester. During these terms students will, under the close supervision of academic supervisors and community knowledge keepers, learn about a particular Indigenous community’s legal traditions by observing the ways in which their legal processes are applied today. The field schools will also have students work with the specific community on law-related projects. The purpose of these terms is to imbue students with the skills necessary to understand the institutions, sources of law, forms of reasoning, legal principles and procedures within those People’s law(s).
Walking the Walk
The first field course, “C?ELA?N?ENE?*: A Field Course in the Re-emergence of W?SA?NEC? Law Fall 2018” will be offered in Fall 2018 and taught by John Borrows and Rob Clifford. The significance of having the focus of the first field course be W?SA?NEC? law merits specific mention here. The work of reconciliation and revitalization is something that falls on the shoulders of every Canadian citizen and institution. Often times the work can seem overwhelming, too abstract, or any other myriad of sensations as it asks Canadians to grapple with hard truths about our past and present. I ask readers to draw inspiration from what is being undertaken at University of Victoria when dealing with such struggles and look to those closest to you. I am grateful to be a part of an institution that, while understanding the need to be attentive to national and global issues, begins by working with those who have and continue to be directly impacted by the University’s physical presence upon their territories.
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