British Columbia – $60,000
Access Pro Bono Society of British Columbia is operating a virtual public interest legal clinic to serve as an experiential learning centre for articling students, and as an incubator for legal practitioners providing affordable legal services to underserved communities across BC.
This pilot project is now in its second year and aims to increase access to justice by increasing availability and affordability of unbundled legal services to respond to unmet legal needs of underserved and marginalized communities in BC. The project also provides an alternative pathway to professional entry that favours applicants from equity seeking groups and prioritizes experiential and hands-on client service.
National – $37,500
COVID-19 necessitated the urgent move to virtual hearings throughout the civil justice system. However, despite constituting as high as 70% of the litigants in certain courts, self-represented litigants’ (SRLs’) insights, challenges, and experiences have not been gathered in a systematic manner. The move to virtual hearings provides an opportunity to explore the broader modernization of the justice system. Fundamental to this exploration is the need to understand the benefits as well as challenges of virtual hearings from the perspective of SRLs.
This research project seeks to gain insights, feedback, and input from SRLs across the country in respect of their experiences participating in virtual hearings. The goal is to contribute urgently needed data and recommendations regarding the viability of a virtual component to the civil justice system, and to inform the dialogue currently unfolding in real time. The report will present recommendations aiming to better support SRLs’ participation in virtual hearings. This includes identifying key factors and best practices for courts and tribunals undertaking virtual hearings involving SRLs.
British Columbia/National- $150,000
Implementing BC’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (Declaration Act) will require innovative research and education to help the legal profession, the Crown and all citizens to envision new approaches for the Crown legal system to align with Indigenous legal orders. The BCLI has established its Reconciling Crown Legal Frameworks Program to conduct research and public legal education about implementing the Declaration Act and recognizing legal pluralism. This program is designed to tackle systemic issues – the need to deconstruct Crown legal frameworks so that they may be reconstructed to accommodate Indigenous legal systems. Working with an Advisory Committee, BCLI is identifying specific legislative reform projects, including those relating to civil and family justice. The overall objective is to support reconciliation and access to justice for Indigenous peoples in BC.
Quebec – $99,500
This project will facilitate access to law and justice for immigrant women seeking a separation and help them participate in society and overcome difficult situations, for themselves and their children. After leading a series of workshops with organizations specializing in immigration, Éducaloi saw the extent of the needs of immigrant women seeking a separation or divorce, as well as the ill effects of not having access to legal information.
Given that many of these women remain in difficult or abusive family situations because they are not aware of their rights, this project could address the following subjects: divorce or separation proceedings; division of assets; custody of children; different risks depending on a person’s immigration status; employment law; and landlord/tenant law.
New Brunswick – $30,000
The New Brunswick Refugee Clinic is currently the only full-time legal clinic in New Brunswick that provides free legal services to refugee claimants. The clinic works diligently to ensure that all at-risk individuals can have access to justice regardless of their financial status.
In addition to working on refugee claims, the NBRC provides assistance and representation to clients in relation to admissibility hearings, and applications for permanent residence based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds and assists detained individuals requiring specialized aid as a result of their immigration status.
Furthermore, the clinic provides services in English, French, and Arabic, as we also have a strong network of volunteer translators who are present to assist clients with other language needs. Since its opening, the clinic has assisted individuals from over 50 different countries.
Ontario – $79,500
ABLE2, together with Reach Canada and Connecting Ottawa, are working in partnership with front-line community service workers and legal organizations to research, design, test and refine an innovative and sustainable bilingual wills and powers of attorney (POA) clinic model, screening tool, and facilitation toolkit that can be used to assist low-income vulnerable populations including refugees, immigrants, individuals with disabilities, and those with precarious employment and housing who have relatively uncomplicated estates, to create their power of attorney, guardianship and wills documentation.
While the main focus of the project is to address the gap in services for vulnerable populations in Ottawa, the project aims to conduct intensive research and evaluation of existing programs to identify creative solutions for conducting free clinics for low-income clients with uncomplicated estates that can be used by other communities and jurisdictions.
Yukon – $87,000
This project will create a legal navigator position within YPLEA. This project has two main goals: to improve access to civil and family justice in the Yukon and to build local capacity by supporting collaboration and knowledge-sharing between jurisdictions and stakeholders.
The navigator will provide direct service to clients by identifying legal issues, offering legal information and resources, making referrals, assisting in understanding and completing legal documents, and explaining legal processes and proceedings.
YPLEA intends to draw on the success of legal advocate and navigator programs delivered by B.C. agencies and adapt the B.C. approach for the needs of northern and remote communities. In addition to connecting with established programs, YLPEA will collaborate with existing navigators/advocates in the Yukon, each of whom offers services to a specific community and in largely different areas of law , to build the overall capacity of the local network. YPLEA will also work to develop the capacity of potential community partners within Yukon's rural communities.
Saskatchewan - $32,338.75
CREATE Justice, USask College of Law, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice, and its project partners will undertake research to determine how best to deliver accurate, accessible, and understandable online legal information to diverse user groups, particularly newcomer communities in Saskatchewan. The project will develop materials in a variety of formats and evaluate how best to communicate legal information and processes to different groups of people. The project will apply user-testing and evidence-based approaches to the development of online legal education materials and self-help tools for wills (powers of attorney and advanced health-care directives) and estate administration processes for newcomer communities.