New Service Alert: Tax Assistance & Information for People with Disabilities

tax_aid

Today’s post introduces a New Service from Disability Alliance BC, a Clicklaw Contributor.

Who can use this service?

People receiving BC disability benefits: the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) or Persons with Persistent and Multiple Barriers (PPMB) benefit and need help filing income tax returns from past years.

Click here to learn more about BC disability benefits.

What can this new service do for you?

  • Help you gather the documents necessary to file your taxes
  • Meet with you one-on-one to help you file your basic
    income tax return
  • Provide information and advice (in-person, or by phone and/or email) about filing income tax returns – See their informational page on the Benefits of Tax Filing
  • Provide referrals to community organizations in your area that can help with more complex tax returns
  • Access advice and support for you from a chartered accountant if your tax return is complex

How do I get started?

Find Contact Information, Hours of Service, and more at Disability Alliance BC‘s Service Listing for this service on the HelpMap:

Click here for Tax Assistance & Information for People with Disabilities – Service Listing

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New Service Alert: TRAC now provides Full Representation

TRAC7-20-2015 12-32-51 PM
Today’s post introduces Direct Representation from TRAC, a Clicklaw contributor. TRAC now provides free full representation to tenants at dispute resolution hearings in limited situations depending on eligibility and location:

Who?
Eligibility criteria to receive representation from TRAC:
– Income
– Types of Cases

Where?
The Lower Mainland, with some exceptions

TRAC reserves the right to use its discretion on a case-by-case basis, and has the final say regarding which tenants receive assistance. There may be times when TRAC is unable to represent a tenant who falls under the criteria above due to time constraints or other factors.

For more information check out TRAC’s Direct Representation page or contact the Tenant Infoline at 604-255-0546 or 1-800-665-1185.

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Justice Theatre Heads to Haida Gwaii for Restorative Justice Forums

by People’s Law SchoolJustice_Theatre

This fall, the People’s Law School launches the first two of its Access to Restorative Justice Community Forums on the Haida Gwaii Islands. The forums, held in partnership with the Haida Gwaii Restorative Justice Program, will take place in Queen Charlotte City on September 15, 2015 and in Masset the following day. Additional restorative justice forums are scheduled for later in the fall in Prince Rupert and Terrace.

The aim of the community forums is to increase the use of restorative justice processes by victims of crime. The forums plan to address issues such as:

  • How can victims of crime and offenders have better access to the restorative justice approach?
  • What needs to be done to strengthen the relationships between police-based victim services and restorative justice agencies?

What is restorative justice?

Restorative justice seeks to repair the harm caused by crime by addressing the needs of victims, engaging the community in the justice process, and encouraging dialogue and healing. Restorative justice involves bringing together the victim, offender and members of the community to discuss the effects of the crime. At a restorative justice session the focus is on the impact of the crime and how to address the harm that was done.

In this approach, crime is understood not only as breaking the law, but as a violation of people, relationships and a disruption of the peace in the community.

Restorative justice principles draw from Aboriginal experience and tradition, including the belief that the community has primary responsibility for addressing crime.

You can find a description of restorative justice on the JusticeBC website.

Read more about who is involved and our work with Legal Services Society

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Do you know how a Bill becomes Law in Canada?

billc51_timeline

How did Bill C-51 become law?

You’ve probably heard some rumblings about Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015. You likely don’t hear about most bills unless you are actively interested in law or politics, but Bill C-51 has struck a chord with everyday people who are concerned about their privacy rights. Here are some places you can go to learn about Bill C-51.

Do you know how Bill C-51 became law on June 18th? We’ll try and break it down for you.

Some basics first

canada_flagCanada’s Constitution defines the government’s powers and your rights. It includes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The constitution is the supreme law of Canada and all of our laws must conform to it, whether made by our courts or government law-makers (legislators). More on the Constitution here.

There are two primary sources of Canadian law (Quebec is an exception):

Continue reading Do you know how a Bill becomes Law in Canada?

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Clicklaw Wikibooks Go Mobile!

Mobile_3Devices
Both the Galaxy S4 and Nexus 5 run on Android. The iPhone runs on iOS. But you get a similar experience looking at wiki.clicklaw.bc.ca across all devices.

Do you have a smartphone? You can already read the Clicklaw blog in a mobile-friendly format, and our Clicklaw Wikibooks (which have helpful legal info on family law, residential tenancy law, wills and estates, and more) now have a mobile option too. We are working on making the main Clicklaw website mobile-friendly, stay tuned.

Why go mobile? Mobile use is not going away; in fact, it’s increasing every year. Nearly 33% of visitors to Clicklaw and the Clicklaw Wikibooks are on either mobile or tablet. We wanted to make the experience better for you, across all devices.

Here’s what you see when you go to a specific Clicklaw Wikibook:

Mobile_Inside_Wikibook

You still have the option of downloading the Wikibook in PDF, EPUB, or ordering a print copy–right from your phone.

See more features below the cut..

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Uncontested Divorce Order Application Clinic Launches June 6, 2015 – Vancouver

lawcourtscenter

by Dom Bautista
Executive Director, Law Courts Center

The Amici Curaie Paralegal Programme is pleased to announce the opening of their “Temporary Foreign Workers’ Uncontested Desk Order Divorce Program” on June 6, 2015.

Who is this Clinic for?

The clinic helps Temporary Foreign Workers (“TFWs”) complete their application for an uncontested divorce order with the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The clinic also helps TFWs who have children in their native country, and are in the process of applying to include their children, but not their spouse, in their application to become a Canadian permanent resident (“PR”).

How does this Clinic help TFWs immigrate to Canada?

For TFWs who do not wish to include their spouse in their PR application, Immigration Canada requires proof of separation, such as a divorce order. This clinic will help you complete your application for an uncontested divorce order.

Read more about the clinics..

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The end of assigning maintenance rights: What does it mean?

childSupport_hands-720x340
To continue assignment, contact MSDSI by June 5, 2015

by Legal Services Society
Cross-posted from the Factum

The Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation (MSDSI) recently sent some of the people who get income or disability assistance a letter about changes to the requirement to “assign maintenance.” Some people still have questions about this change, so The Factum will try to make sense of them here.

As of September 1, 2015, child support payments will no longer be deducted from income/disability assistance payments. This is good news as parents won’t have their child support clawed back.

The old rules

Before May 1, 2015, if you were divorced or separated and getting income/disability assistance, you had to sign over your rights to maintenance (child support) payments to the ministry. This “assignment of rights” allowed the ministry to take your spouse to court and get a court order for child support. If your spouse refused to pay, the ministry could send the court order to the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program, who would collect the payments for you. Then the ministry would deduct that amount from your income/disability assistance.

The new rules

As of May 1, 2015, you don’t have to assign your maintenance rights to the ministry anymore.

Continue reading The end of assigning maintenance rights: What does it mean?

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More Help Available for Families Experiencing Separation and Divorce – Sliding Scale Family Mediation Project

About Mediation Page
Mediation help for separation and divorce

By Kari Boyle
Director of Strategic Initiatives, Mediate BC

Are you going through a separation or divorce? Would you like to avoid the time, money and stress involved with going to court? Mediate BC is a not-for-profit society that provides people with practical, accessible and affordable choices for resolving their disputes. With funding from the Law Foundation of BC, Mediate BC has launched the Sliding Scale Family Mediation Project this Spring to help families experiencing divorce and separation to access mediation services at fees which are set based on the family’s net income and assets/debts.

What are the benefits of mediation?
Family mediators will help you reach decisions about issues such as: property division, child and spousal support, parenting time and guardianship without going to court. This approach promotes a healthy relationship with the participants and any children involved, and can also save you time, money and stress.

How do I get started?
Visit our website or call the Sliding Scale Project Mediation Coordinator, Maria Silva, at 1-877-656-1300 ext. 108 for more information. She will help you decide if this program is the right choice for you.

What if I or my ex-spouse/partner qualify for Legal Aid?
You may be eligible for the Family Mediation Referral Program which provides the first six hours of family mediation services at no charge to your family.  To apply for this service, visit a Legal Aid office or contact the LSS Call Centre.

Below are some of Mediate BC’s other services and resources:
–    About Mediation: information on mediation, including the role of a mediator and how to choose one.
–    Roster Mediator Directories: searchable directories of civil, family, and child protection mediators to assist people in selecting a suitable mediator to resolve their dispute.
–    Public Education and Training: offers free public seminars on mediation and professional development opportunities for dispute resolution practitioners.

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Common Questions 2015 Update

What are Common Questions (CQs)? Clicklaw links to so many great resources, which can make it difficult to decide which one to read first. Clicklaw’s Common Questions are like an extended legal FAQ. They help narrow down the resources people should start with. Most of our 147 questions have been reviewed and updated in the past two months.

An example of a Common Question:
CommonQuestion_Will

CQs make up 40% of the top 10 viewed pages on Clicklaw:

Some new questions that have been added are:

A question to keep your eye on: We’ve started a non-profit group and we want it to become a society

Do you have an idea for a good CQ? Are you having trouble finding the right resources for your legal problem or question? Do you get asked the same questions over and over again by your clients? Send your suggestions to: editor[@]clicklaw.bc.ca

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Online Dispute Resolution in BC: Case Study #1

Intro | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3


Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is joining the legal landscape in BC, but many people–even some lawyers–are unfamiliar with its processes. We are covering the emergence and expansion of ODR in BC in a series of blog posts. (See our introduction here.)

In recent ODR-related news, the Civil Resolution Tribunal or “CRT” (which we discussed in our first post) has appointed 18 tribunal members. They will hear strata property and small claims cases, and will be able to make decisions that are binding and enforceable like court orders. You can read the press release from the CRT and BC Ministry of Justice here.

cpbc

In today’s post we focus on Consumer Protection BC’s ODR platform, a neutral online space where people can settle disputes with businesses, without going to court.

Click to view full infographic
Click to view full infographic

We created an infographic (below, right) which provides a snapshot of the process, from start to finish.

We tested the ODR tool ourselves, giving you an inside peek into the process, with screen captures to provide visual context.

Important note: the steps we took here are not exhaustive of the ways that you can resolve a dispute using ODR.

step01Create an account.  When you start a new dispute you will be asked questions regarding the nature of your complaint.

Blog_ScreenCap1

But wait, there’s more!

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