Are you affected by the wildfires in BC? Are you helping someone navigate through legal issues related to the natural disaster? Below are trusted sources of information for you during this challenging time. At the end of this post, you can find services offering free legal advice.
Emergency Support Services (ESS) Information Centre can answer your questions about short-term basic support to people impacted by the wildfire season. Call 1-800-585-9559 (toll-free).
EmergencyInfoBC is the provincial government portal for disaster response, which includes a range of helpful resources from all things evacuation to recovery & support.
Benefits and wildfire-related issues
Here are some highlights related to provincial/federal benefits and potential legal issues.
If you are under evacuation order due to BC wildfire, register with Red Cross. Call 1-800-863-6582 between 9 am and 8 pm PST. They will determine your eligibility for financial assistance and provide you with information and services that may become available.
The governments of BC and Canada are providing financial support for BC farmers and ranchers who have suffered losses through wildfires, record heat and prolonged drought in 2021.
The Government of Canada provides notices on accessing the federal benefits for those affected by the wildfires:
- Employment Insurance: affected workers should apply online as soon as possible, even without a Record of Employment.
- Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security: sign up for a direct deposit to ensure timely delivery of benefits.
- Canada Student or Apprentice Loan: fast track your repayment assistance application to help with making your payments.
Bill credit & payment plans are available for BC Hydro customers who are evacuees.
For reporting a claim and acquiring a replacement ID (Driver’s Licence, BC Services Card and BC Identification), ICBC offers an expedited process.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada provides the essential information you need to know about private home insurance and other wildfire-related claims, covering the claims process and the next steps.
Have more questions? Access Pro Bono provides a legal FAQ sheet on insurance claims made concerning the wildfires.
Access Pro Bono provides a legal FAQ sheet for workers employed under the terms of the British Columbia Employment Standards Act (the “ESA”) as of August 17, 2021.
Access Pro Bono provides a legal FAQ sheet about the potential impacts of wildfires on family law matters.
Landlords and tenants
The Residential Tenancy Branch provides information for landlords & tenants impacted by the 2021 wildfire season & state of emergency. It includes FAQs, before/during/after an evacuation, serving documents, returning to the rental units after an evacuation, dispute resolution deadlines, vacation/travel accommodation & SRO hotels.
Access Pro Bono provides a legal FAQ sheet for tenants who have a tenancy agreement under either the BC Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) or the BC Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act (MHPTA).
Strata (condo) owners
Access Pro Bono provides a legal FAQ sheet summarizing relevant provisions of the Strata Property Act, the Strata Property Regulation and the Standard Bylaws.
You may have to meet their eligibility criteria to access the following services.
- Legal Aid BC has a province-wide Call Centre providing legal representation and information services. Call 1-866-577-2525 (toll-free) or 604-408-2172 (Greater Vancouver) to ask for legal help.
- Access Pro Bono offers free legal advice to those impacted by the wildfires. Call 1-877-762-6664 or fill out their online form.
Find it on Clicklaw
You can find links to the above resources using the common question “Where can I get help with legal problems caused by wildfires in BC?“. We will update that Clicklaw page as new resources become available.