Organization of the Month | November 2017

This month, we feature Consumer Protection BC, a Clicklaw contributor.

Consumer Protection BC is a provincial regulator that licenses several sectors (see Infographic below) and offers information and referrals to people in BC.

Meet Laura

Laura Cox is the Manager, Licensing and Information Services at Consumer Protection BC. Her team handles the licensing of all the sectors that Consumer Protection BC oversees, and also offers assistance to consumers.

What has surprised you most about working with your organization?

I joined our organization in 2012. It is surprising to see how many consumer calls and emails we receive which are outside of our mandate. We work really hard to provide consumers with the best possible referral, but in some cases the referral is to a lawyer, or court.

As a regulator, we oversee three different Acts, and many sectors. It was overwhelming to see how much I would need to learn.

It seems like that’s a widely held misconception–that you can help with any consumer issue.

[I think that because of our name] people assume we can help with any consumer issue, but that’s just not the case. We oversee specific laws and can only help when a potential violation of that law has occurred. This is why my team works so hard to ensure we have the right referrals for consumer issues that fall outside of our mandate.

What are some common referrals that you do make?

One of our top referrals is to the Vehicle Sales Authority–they oversee the retail sales of vehicles sold through licensed dealerships.

We also refer a lot of consumers to the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Service (CCTS)–they can help consumers who have an issue with a cell phone, landline, cable, TV, or internet provider.

We have a page designated on our new website for our top referrals. To learn more about other agencies who can help consumers within BC visit our referral page here.

Do you have any interesting stories of clients you’ve helped in the past year?

Here’s a story we shared in our annual report (names and some details have been changed to protect privacy):

It was time to get his chimney fixed, so Eddy hired a masonry company to do the repairs. After quite a delay in getting any work done, the masonry company tried to convince Eddy he had a mould problem in his house and they could help. Eddy had a background in the trades and knew there was no mould problem. This was a red flag for him so he decided to cancel the contract and get his deposit back. Something just didn’t feel right. When the business owner stated all deposits were non-refundable, Eddy got nervous. “I’m pushing 80,” says Eddy, “and [the owner] was fighting me on this tooth and nail. At one point, I had to order him off my property.”

That’s when Eddy decided to reach out to Consumer Protection BC to see if they could help. It was determined the business didn’t have all the required content in their contracts and Eddy was within his rights to cancel. Consumer Protection BC’s involvement resulted in a full refund. Eddy stresses the importance of practicing due diligence when hiring someone to do work on your house and to make sure you ask around about the company’s reputation. “Normally I am very careful with these kinds of things,” Eddy says. “But sometimes you get caught off guard. I’m thankful things turned out the way they did.

That’s a great story. What else do you regulate in addition to consumer contracts?

We are responsible for enforcing the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act, the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act, and the Motion Picture Act, and the related regulations. Here is a helpful infographic that shows the sectors we license and regulate:

Thank you for sharing with us today, Laura. Last question–what are you most excited about, recently?

Our new website launch is really exciting! On top of this we continue to work on an online portal for our licensees. This will allow them to accomplish more online, which will save them time; they will also be able to make changes and renew their licenses really quickly.

Stay informed with Consumer Protection BC:

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Organization of the Month | September 2017

This month, we feature Legal Services Society (LSS), a Clicklaw contributor.

WHO WE ARE

The Legal Services Society (LSS) is a non-profit organization created by the LSS Act in 1979 to provide legal information, advice, and representation services to people with low incomes. Most people call us Legal Aid BC. Our priority is to serve the interests of people with low incomes. But many of our services are available to all British Columbians.

WHAT DO WE DO?

Every year we help tens of thousands of British Columbians with:

  • serious family problems,
  • child protection matters,
  • immigration issues, and
  • criminal law issues.

We do this by providing a range of services that help people resolve their legal problems. These services include legal information, legal advice, and legal representation. Our services are offered at legal aid locations throughout the province or by calling 1-888-577-2525.

WHAT ARE WE WORKING ON?

Our Community and Publishing Services department is our legal information branch of Legal Services Society. Here’s what they’re working on:

Since it’s launched the site has had over 36,000 users. The Make a Will pathway has been used around 5,600 times and the Make a Separation Plan pathway is just below that at around 5,400. We’ve also done extensive user testing since the launch. If you’ve used MyLawBC in the past, check it out again and complete a 2-3 minute survey about your experience with MyLawBC.com. You could win a cash prize of $100. If you want to let others know about MyLawBC, see the Communication Kit.

  • Community Partners

LSS partners with 26 agencies in BC to provide legal information, connect people to the LSS call centre or local agent, and/or connect people to other legal help. We call them our community partners. The contracts are small, but the impact is big because the front-line workers do other jobs for their agency that put them into direct and frequent contact with people who need legal help. For a complete list of locations and the names of our partners, visit the Community Partners webpage and the Clicklaw HelpMap (for an interactive Google Map).

  • New and upcoming publications about Gladue Rights and First Nations Court

We have a suite of publications letting people know about Gladue rights and First Nations Court. These are:

  • What’s First Nations Court? – This fact sheet explains restorative justice, how you get into First Nations Court, where First Nations Courts are located, who’s at First Nations Court, and what a healing plan is.
  • Your Gladue Rights – a plain language booklet about Aboriginal peoples’ rights under the Criminal Code of Canada called Gladue rights.
  • Gladue Rights at Bail and Sentencing – This infographic poster shows when Gladue rights apply for Aboriginal people during the criminal court process, and when to get a Gladue report or prepare an oral Gladue submission.
  • Coming later in 2017 will be the Gladue Submission Guide and the Gladue Report Guide which help Aboriginal people, advocates, and intermediaries make Gladue reports or submissions. Clicklaw blog subscribers will stay up to date with new publications like these through the Bi-Monthly Update Series.

Get the latest updates about Legal Services Society

Sign up for the newsletter at The Factum.
 

Stay informed with LSS:

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