New Law Reform Reports from West Coast LEAF

By Laura Track
Legal Director, West Coast LEAF

 

West Coast LEAF has published two new law reform reports in the last couple of months, and we hope you’ll check them out!

CyberMisogynyIn June, we released #CyberMisogyny: Using and Strengthening Canadian Legal Responses to Gendered Hate and Harassment Online. Cyber misogyny is the term we use to describe sexualized bullying, harassment, and hate speech directed at women and girls online. While harassment and discrimination against women and girls are nothing new, the Internet has created new opportunities to perpetuate harassment and abuse widely and anonymously, and the law has been slow to respond.

We analyzed five common manifestations of cyber misogyny:

  • “revenge porn” (non-consensual sharing of intimate images, often by an ex-partner)
  • “sexting” among youth
  • child sexual exploitation
  • cyberstalking
  • gender-based hate speech online.

We provide an overview of the current legal responses available to victims of these forms of cyber misogyny under criminal, civil, and human rights law, and make 35 recommendations for how Canadian and BC law and policy could be strengthened to better protect the equality rights of women, girls, and other vulnerable communities online.

Able MothersThen in September, we released Able Mothers: The intersection of parenting, disability and the law. This report takes a critical look at the discriminatory misconceptions and stereotypes that can influence decisions affecting mothers with disabilities. It also makes recommendations for law and policy reforms to better protect the dignity, equality, and rights of disabled mothers and women seeking to become mothers.

Governments have a legal obligation to provide the supports necessary so that parents can provide a safe and nurturing environment for their children. However, our research shows that government is failing to meet this obligation, with devastating results for both children and their disabled mothers. Rather than removing children from their disabled parents and placing them in foster care, we believe that government should be providing the supports these parents need, in the best interests of their children.

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LSS Launches Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC Website

Aboriginal Legal Aid in BCLegal Services Society has launched its Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC website, which replaces and expands upon their previous Aboriginal section on the LSS Website. The new website design is built as a result of feedback from the community, making information easy to find.

Information on Aboriginal legal rights is offered in plain language. The new site provides guides on family law, child protection, social assistance on reserve (with the latest rates), the Indian residential schools settlement and wills and estates on reserve. Plain language information also includes Gladue, First Nations Court and harvesting rights.

The above mentioned guides are housed under five main subject tabs with a drop-down menu style for added search convenience: Your Family; Your Legal Rights; Benefits and Services; The Ministry and Your Kids; Legal Aid Can Help

The website interface has an easy-to-read layout with the content pages featuring:

  • Contextual information on publications and who can help.
  • Relevant publications and who can help information are listed right next to the information to which they apply. This gives end users the information they need to help answer their questions without having to search for it.
  • Plain language definitions of complex legal terms are bolded in red; hover your mouse over the term to get the definition which appears in a pop-up window.

Technology plays a large part in our daily lives, and this now includes how we access and use legal information. The Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC website is designed to fit all devices, allowing you to read and navigate the materials on your phone or tablet.

 

 

 

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Public Libraries and Nidus Personal Planning Events

Recently, Courthouse Libraries BC’s LawMatters program partnered with Clicklaw contributor Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry to celebrate their Personal Planning Month with a series of events. LawMatters asked public libraries to host some Nidus events and 9 libraries signed up for a series of 15 public events, including presentations and webinars for the public. Over 400 people attended the free events that explained Representation Agreements and other planning tools.

The launch of the series was held at Vancouver Public Library and attracted over 250 people. A panel of speakers included an innovative example of using audience participation to get the message across. Watch the video of “Gonna Get a Rep Agreement” sung with ukelele to “Sentimental Journey” – it was a crowd hit!

Capacity crowds also attended presentations by Nidus staff at the Burnaby, West Vancouver and Richmond Public Libraries.

Other libraries throughout the province were able to host several Nidus webinars for the public. The webinars brought crowds as large as 50 people to libraries in New Westminster, Kitimat, Victoria, Greenwood, North Vancouver District and Whistler. Nidus presenter Joanne Taylor encouraged questions from the audience through virtual chat.

Comments from webinar host librarians included:

“Feedback from the audience overall was very positive, and several people said that Joanne’s presentation was easy to follow given how complex the subject was. I especially appreciated Joanne showing her face briefly to say “hello” and put a face to the voice.”

“We had 50 people attend our webinar. I didn’t have any technological glitches reported to me, which is good! I think there was a fair bit of community interest in this webinar, so I’m glad we were able to host. There was a lot of interest in the next webinar about Representation Agreements.”

“Audience response – all were appreciative. One Credit Union employee attended and said she had never heard of Nidus, and that the info would be useful to her at work–I’m guessing maybe they get requests to access accounts by family or friends of people with dementia and now can direct them to Nidus to get a representation agreement.”

Librarians also collected some feedback from patrons:

“This was an extremely useful program. I was unaware of Representation Agreements and signed up for the workshop because I am thinking of updating my will. This workshop provided invaluable information on a topic everyone should be aware of. As a person now retired and feeling the pinch of a lower income, to be able to access this legal information at no charge was most helpful.”

“I appreciated being given information from a legitimate source in an environment I trusted. No selling or unwanted advice given! I would be interested in attending similar events.”

“I found the discussion session very useful. It was much better than watching a webinar on my own.”

Nidus offers a regular monthly series of free webinars, and any library or individual can register for future events on the training page. Nidus also offers training to the intermediary and legal communities, and a well-received session was held recently for Access Pro Bono lawyers.

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BCCPD is now Disability Alliance BC

 

DABC-logo

By Jane Dyson
Executive Director, Disability Alliance BC

 

Yes, BC Coalition of People with Disabilities’ name is now Disability Alliance BC. BCCPD members voted strongly in favour of the change at our Annual General Meeting (AGM) in June. Since then, we’ve been gradually transitioning over to using our new name.

Organizations change their name. In fact, we changed ours 24 years ago. In 1977, our founding name was British Columbia Coalition of the Disabled. In 1990, we changed it to BC Coalition of People with Disabilities. The change reflected the fact that people with disabilities are people who happen to have a disability, rather than being “the disabled.”

So why change our name? Two years ago, we decided it was time to update our logo. We connected with Spring Advertising who generously volunteered their time to help us develop one. They suggested we also look at our name. They asked us if it continued to reflect who we are and how we are changing, what we do and why we do it?

BC Coalition of People with Disabilities is a long name and, while it has served us well, Board and staff agreed it was time to update. A Board member suggested the word “Alliance”–we liked it because it expresses strength and community. As a provincial organization, we also wanted to keep “BC” in our name. We serve people with disabilities and, while the experience of disability is unique to each person, we have many things in common that affect us. “Disability”, of course, reflects this common ground.

So, Disability Alliance BC was born. We are very excited about this change and it is a landmark event for our organization. Spring also designed our new logo and tagline that speak to the importance of building strong connections both within and outside of the disability community.

We hope you like our new name and logo. Change can be challenging—and this is a big change—but it is just a name. Disability Alliance BC–or D-A-B-C for short–will be doing the same work for the disability community. That has not changed.

 

A note from Clicklaw Editors:

You can find Disability Alliance BC’s resources and services through the Clicklaw website. Clicklaw also connects you to a range of common questions, resources, and HelpMap services about disabilities.

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Conflict Resolution Week October 11-18, 2014

MediateposterMediate BC is launching BC’s first ever Conflict Resolution Week, October 11-18, 2014.

During the week of October 11-18, Mediate BC and its Roster mediators will be organizing events throughout the province to build awareness of healthy ways to resolve conflicts, including mediation.

The theme for this year is “Let’s Talk It Out”.

“Many people still believe that going to court is the default option to resolve conflicts. The truth is there are many ways to solve most conflicts outside of, or earlier in, the court system which can save you time and money,” says Mediate BC’s Executive Director Kari D. Boyle.

Check out events in your local community.

During Conflict Resolution Week, Kari Boyle, will also announce the highlights of the 2014 survey of its Roster Mediators which confirms that mediation is an effective, timely and affordable option. Join this free interactive seminar at the Vancouver Public Library (350 W Georgia Street, Vancouver) on Tuesday, October 14 from 12:00 – 1:00pm to learn more.

For questions and information contact: 1-888-713-0433 ext. 104 or training@mediatebc.com.

 

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Do It Yourself Separation Guide Now Available

LSSSeparationAgreementsEarlier this month, the Legal Services Society launched a 7 step separation agreement guide. The separation guide helps you create your own separation agreement with information and instructions that help you choose your own options and fill-in-the-blanks to complete your agreement.

 

How to write your own separation agreement is based on a precedent manual produced by the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC (CLEBC).

The new guide results in a basic personalized separation agreement, which can be filed at the court registry as a first step towards a divorce.

Before you begin filling out the form, LSS provides information about separation agreements and technical instructions to get you started.

The online form is divided into sections with help on how to fill each section. A special feature allows you to choose relevant paragraphs, and fill in the necessary dates and names. After completing each section, the agreement can be saved into a separate file to protect your privacy.

Currently, the guide contains sections on parenting, child and spousal support, and debts. In late August, LSS will add a section on property and pensions.

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Supreme Court Family Law Forms: New Fillable Forms from the Legal Services Society

flws thumbnailMore help with filling out Supreme Court family forms is now available from the Legal Services Society’s Family Law website. LSS now features 23 new and improved Supreme Court family law forms in a fillable Word format available on the LSS Family Law in BC website. These new forms, such as the Notice of Joint Family Claim, allow you to add and save your own information into the forms and give some instructions on how to fill them out.

You can find these forms through Clicklaw on the LSS Court Forms page. The forms were created in the last few months and were refined and tested to be used in a range of family law cases, including divorces, changing child support, or changing parenting arrangements. To provide further help with filling out these forms , LSS has also created instructions and tips that will help you fill out your forms quickly and correctly. Some of the more complicated forms also have additional, more detailed instructions and tips.

If you need more assistance with your court forms, LSS also provides a list of organizations that will provide more hands-on support.

These forms were created with funding from The Law Foundation of BC.

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Employment Dispute? Share Your Experience

The Government of BC’s Civil Resolution Tribunal Branch is creating an online dispute resolution website and they’re looking for help from the public. They’d like to talk to people who have had a recent dispute with their employer or employee so they can learn more about the kinds of experiences people have had in these kinds of situations. They’ll use this information to inform the design of their online dispute resolution website to make sure it meets the needs of people in BC.

The interviews will take place in the fall in Vancouver and Victoria, and will take about an hour. In exchange for your time, they’re offering a $60 gift card. If you’re interested in participating or learning more, please email them directly at uxbc@gov.bc.ca.

 

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Social Security Tribunal for CPP Disability

Are you representing yourself with a Canada Pension Plan Disability appeal to the Social Security Tribunal? Are you a community worker who helps people  who are in this situation? If so, you’ll want to make sure you check out the Society Security Tribunal self-help guide from the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities.

This guide, updated in May 2014, is written for people who are representing themselves on a CPP Disability appeal at the Social Security Tribunal. Peter, a legal advocate at the Coalition, reports that they’ve heard from a number of people who have used the guide and found it very helpful. He describes this updated plain language guide is the only online resource that provides a comprehensive overview of how the Social Security Tribunal works. The guide includes sections on:

  • how to assess the merits of your case,
  • the decision making process,
  • starting your appeal
  • the hearing file
  • preparing your case
  • your written submission
  • at the hearing
  • after the hearing

It also includes definitions, and provides tips on using case law. This guide and other resources on Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits can be found through the Clicklaw website.

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Separation Agreements: Your Right to Fairness

wcleaf-Separation AgreementsThis plain language booklet co-produced by West Coast LEAF and Legal Services Society gives a general overview of some of the financial issues that arise during separation and divorce. Laura Track from West Coast LEAF wrote a blog post about this back in February. In addition to English version, this resource is now available in Chinese (simplified and traditional), Punjabi, Spanish and Tagalog.

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