Updated Sponsorship Information in Legal Help for British Columbians

legal help

A few months ago YWCA Legal Educator Andrea Vollans wrote to Clicklaw and asked if someone could write a factsheet clarifying the rule for conditional permanent residence when a child is born after an application for permanent residence. The information was not available in any of the resources she had checked.

We contacted the Legal Help for British Columbians Clicklaw Wikibook legal reviewer Rochelle Appleby, who was able to update the page “My husband sponsored me and we have now separated” to include Andrea’s suggestion, and also add some information about a claim of abuse or neglect. This update is an example of how Clicklaw Wikibooks can respond quickly to a user request in addition to our regular updates concerning legislative changes.


Newcomers and the Law

pls-new-wikibooks-april-2014For newcomers to Canada, there are some new and updated resources that explain every day legal issues from the People’s Law School:

  • Learning about the Law Wikibook covers the fundamentals of how the law affects your family, young people, seniors, employment, and housing.
  • Driving in BC explains the basics of driving and the law. It includes legal information for people learning to drive.
  • Paying Taxes explains to newcomers and new taxpayers what taxes we’re expected to pay, who we pay taxes to, and how to pay them.
  • Workplace Bullying and Harassment explains what workers, employers, and supervisors need to know and do about workplace bullying and harassment, and where you can get help or more information.

All of these titles are now available as part of the expanding collection on Clicklaw Wikibooks. Clicklaw Wikibooks are collaboratively developed, plain language legal publications that are born-wiki. They are easy to read on your screen, fully searchable, and hyperlinked to key resources. One of the benefits to the Clicklaw Wikibooks platform is that it offers you a choice of format. You can:

  • read the information online on the Clicklaw Wikibooks site,
  • download and print the publication as a PDF,
  • download the publication as an EPUB — a popular ebook standard — and read on an ereader, tablet or mobile device, or
  • for a fee, order your own print on demand copy of the publication.

A free print compilation of these and other People’s Law School wikibooks will be distributed to ESL learning centres and public libraries in BC, under the title Learning about the Law: Extended Edition. This project was made possible with funding support from the Province of BC and Government of Canada.


Law Related ESL Lessons


Educators who work with newcomers, youth and adults have an updated resource to help teach basic concepts about the law. Law-Related ESL Lessons is a set of lesson modules on legal topics, designed for English language classes for newcomers to Canada. Developed by People’s Law School and LISTN (formerly ELSA Net), in collaboration with Courthouse Libraries BC, this resource features downloadable instructional packages at varying Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) levels, together with assessment tools for instructors. The lesson modules include online quizzes that learners can take to assess their understanding, and online videos to support more dynamic learning.

Lesson topics include:

  • Fundamentals of the Law,
  • Consumer Law,
  • Elder Law,
  • Family Law with content on marriage, separation, divorce and family violence,
  • Working in BC including workplace bullying and harassment,
  • Paying Taxes,
  • Driving in BC,
  • Renting a Home,
  • Scams to Avoid,
  • Talking to the Police and
  • Youth and the Law

These lessons are the latest addition to the Learn & Teach section on Clicklaw Wikibooks.

The Law-Related ESL Lessons project was made possible with funding support from the Province of BC and Government of Canada.


Helping Clients with Legal Information and Legal Referrals

Settlement Worker Guide Cover ImageSettlement workers in BC help new immigrants as they start their life in Canada. Sometimes new immigrants need information about the law or legal help, and they turn to workers in settlement agencies for help. The Settlement Workers Guide to Helping Clients with Legal Information and Legal Referrals is a new training tool for settlement workers and others providing legal information and referral services. The guide is a series of short videos and text that provides practical information and examples to help workers:

  • understand the difference between legal information and legal advice,
  • identify when a client may have a legal issue,
  • find legal information,
  • find legal help, and
  • make effective referrals.

The guide is hosted on Clicklaw Wikibooks. One of the benefits of having the guide on this collaborative platform is that the information is available in a variety of formats. You can:

  • read the information online
  • watch the videos
  • download the guide as a PDF to print out
  • download the guide as an ebook to read on your ereader, tablet or mobile device.

The guide was developed through the collaborative efforts of the Immigrant PLEI Consortium (IPC) and the following agencies: Courthouse Libraries BC, Justice Education Society, Legal Services Society, Options Community Services and People’s Law School. Funding was provided by the Government of Canada and Province of British Columbia.


Updated Clicklaw Resources for the New Wills, Estates and Succession Act


It was officially Make a Will Week in British Columbia last week, as the new Wills, Estates and Succession Act came into force on March 31, 2014.

There are a number of resources on Clicklaw that have now been updated for the new legislation:


Employment Law for Temporary Foreign Workers

The same laws and regulations that protect all British Columbians also apply to temporary foreign workers. However, as temporary foreign workers, there may be some restrictions on their terms of employment. For example, a temporary foreign worker is usually restricted to working for a specific employer.

For workers who aren’t familiar with employment law in BC, it can be tricky trying to tell the difference between what may be an actual restriction and what is against the law. Two organizations, MOSAIC and the Employment Standards Branch, have resources available on Clicklaw that can help.

MOSAIC is a multilingual non-profit organization that supports immigrant and refugee communities and has produced the following resources with information for temporary foreign workers, available in four additional languages (Chinese (simplified), Korean, Punjabi, Spanish):

Additionally, MOSAIC has a Legal Clinic for Temporary Foreign Workers.

The Employment Standards Branch has a series of employment fact sheets, including the resource Employment Standards for Foreign Workers, which is available in in PDF format in six additional languages (Chinese (traditional), French, Korean, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog/Filipino). The resource describes what the law says about the rights of foreign workers, including payment of wages and what happens if employment ends.


Clicklaw Website Enhancements

You may notice some improvements we’ve made to Clicklaw this week. This is part of a project that we’ve been working on over the last year to make it easier for new immigrants to find legal information and legal help, and we believe these enhancements will help all visitors to our site. Here’s a brief overview of some of the improvements you’ll see.

Clicklaw Search ResultsOn the search results page:

  • Facets now have check boxes, making it easier for you to see that you’re narrowing your search
  • Title links go to the resource details page, providing you with richer information about the resource
  • If the resource is available in other languages, they’re listed in search results
  • Quick links to the resource are at the end of each listing. They also include an icon to indicate that you’ll be leaving the Clicklaw site

Clicklaw Resource Details PageOn the resource details page:

  • Clear indication that clicking on the link will take you to an external site
  • Links to the resource in other languages are highlighted
  • “Explore Further” by topic or by organization is more prominent
  • New link to HelpMap, to connect you with in person legal services in your community

Still to come:

  • More blog articles on Clicklaw resources to keep you informed about what’s new, and what’s been updated
  • Promotion to encourage you to sign up for the Clicklaw blog to stay in touch with what’s new on Clicklaw
  • “Train the trainer” kit so you can teach others about Clicklaw, including videos providing quick tips on using Clicklaw
  • Ongoing work with our contributors to ensure Clicklaw content is complete and up to date
  • Webinars for service providers on using Clicklaw

As always, we welcome your feedback!



Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre (TRAC) launches Tenant Survival Guide as Clicklaw Wikibook

Courthouse Libraries BC and Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre (TRAC) announced today that the Tenant Survival Guide is now available as a Clicklaw Wikibook. In its new online format at http://wiki.clicklaw.bc.ca, the Tenant Survival Guide is easy to read on screen, fully searchable, and hyperlinked to key forms and resources for tenants.  The full PDF press release is posted online.

In addition to providing an excellent online reading experience, the new format of the Tenant Survival Guide also supports flexible printing and reading options for offline use. As a Clicklaw Wikibook, the Guide can also be downloaded and printed as a PDF, or downloaded as an EPUB — a popular ebook standard — and read on an ereader, tablet or mobile device. Coming soon is a print-on-demand option.

The flexible printing and reading options benefit public libraries and readers who find it hard to access or use computers — while the online version better extends the reach of the Tenant Survival Guide to tenants across British Columbia.

As the term “wiki” suggests, Clicklaw Wikibooks uses wiki technology, which enables information to be updated quickly to respond to changes in the law. TRAC will continue to update the Tenant Survival Guide on Clicklaw Wikibooks as laws affecting tenants evolve.

In releasing the Tenant Survival Guide as a Clicklaw Wikibook, TRAC joins People’s Law School and authors like John-Paul Boyd and Cliff Thorstenson in collaborating with Courthouse Libraries BC to provide legal information in an accessible, innovative format for British Columbians. A full list of Clicklaw Wikibook titles is found here.


New Resource! Separation Agreements: Your Right to Fairness


West Coast LEAF’s Separation Agreements: Your Right to Fairness is a plain language booklet that gives a general overview of some of the financial issues that arise during separation and divorce. The booklet provides tips for making sure a separation agreement is fair, discusses legal tools for protecting family property, and describes the law governing when the court can set aside an unfair agreement. While the legal information contained in the booklet applies to everyone, the booklet is geared towards women, who tend to face particularly critical financial challenges when they separate from a spouse.

Marital breakdown has a profound impact on many women’s economic security. Because of women’s primary responsibility for childcare and greater likelihood of leaving the paid labour force when their children are young, as well as the lack of affordable child care and continued pay inequity on the job, women earn less money overall. Lower earnings, combined with a lack of access to legal aid, make it much harder for women to access justice in family law cases.

Moreover, women may be denied information about the family finances and may not have access to important financial documents held by their ex-husbands. Language barriers and cultural taboos around women’s involvement in the family’s finances compound the challenges.

Separation Agreements: Your Right to Fairness seeks to provide crucial financial information to women who need it. We recently updated the booklet, in collaboration with the Legal Services Society (LSS), to reflect changes to the law resulting from the new Family Law Act. We are also partnering with LSS to translate the booklet into five additional languages (Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, and Traditional and Simplified Chinese), which will be available this spring.

Hard copies of the booklet can be ordered free from the Crown Publications Service.

Thank you to Laura Track, Legal Director from Clicklaw Contributor West Coast LEAF, for providing this article on their new resource. — Clicklaw Editorial Team


Court Forms – you have questions, we have answers!

Court rules, forms, and self-help guides to court proceduresEvery day, somewhere in BC, a person approaches a librarian and asks, “Can you help me find a court form?”

This seemingly simple question has so many potential answers. The court forms are different depending on whether the file is family or civil. They change completely depending on whether the action is in Provincial Court or Supreme Court. And getting help might mean finding the form you need, the rule that decides it or it might mean figuring out how to use it. It might mean all three.

I can only imagine how daunting that this would be for someone new to the legal system. And while there are excellent resources out there, sometimes you need signposts to get you there.

After assisting a number of people at the front desk and speaking with public librarians in different parts of BC, I starting thinking: what if we could direct people to a tool that would mimic the help a librarian at Courthouse Libraries would provide? If you weren’t sure where to go, could there be a single page to get you started using BC court forms?

I am so pleased to say that thanks to a fantastic team of people, Clicklaw now has a simple tool that does just this. You can find it in the footer on each page under Laws, Cases and Rules – Forms, Self-Help Guides, or through our new Common Question featured on the homepage, Where can I find the rules, forms and guides for court?

This simple flowchart allows people to start with the idea that they need help with a form and quickly get to the right resources. If someone is unsure of the answer to a question, we’ve built in some “I don’t knows” to try to help get them moved through and ultimately connected with the resources that will help.

Try it out. As with any new idea, we would love feedback. Let us know if it’s helping you (or your clients), or if there is something we could do better.

Thank you to everyone who made this happen. It was truly a team effort. It involved the work of a number of Courthouse Libraries BC staff and was only possible because of the resources of our outstanding Clicklaw contributor community.


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