LEGAL NEEDS AS AN EXPRESSION OF A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS: A COVID-19 CASE STUDY

Apr-27-2022

At this point it’s clear that COVID-19 is a public health emergency that has laid bare socio-economic inequities. One of the ways this has been expressed is through the occurrence and evolution of legal needs during the pandemic and how public policy decisions impacted the incidence of unmet legal needs. And while we inch towards a return to normalcy, it is important that we learn what lessons we can from this experience and be better prepared to meet the needs of the public in times of widespread crisis. Our program data from 2020 provides an important case study.

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YOU FOUND A LIEN ON YOUR HOME. NOW WHAT?

Mar-09-2022

Finding a lien on your property can be a shock. In some cases, you run the risk of a failed refinancing or a lawsuit stemming from an aborted closing. In other cases, liens can enable someone else to force the sale of your property without your consent. PBO’s Free Legal Advice Hotline receives calls regularly from Ontario homeowners dealing with a threat to their most important asset that they never saw coming. Every case is different, and you should get legal advice, whether from the Hotline or your own lawyer, but here’s some basic guidance on approaching a surprise lien.

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LOOKING BACK ON 2021, IMPROVING ACCESS FOR 2022

Feb-9-2022

PBO had another very strong year in 2021. We provided direct legal services to more than 29,000 clients. Our Free Legal Advice Hotline continued to demonstrate its value as a safe, efficient, and effective means of delivering access to justice. We served 91% of our clients from across Ontario through the Hotline. 88% of the people who called told us the Hotline was the first place they were able to get legal help for their problems.

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COVID-19 AND YOUR CHILD’S RIGHTS AT SCHOOL: WHAT PARENTS SHOULD KNOW

Aug-23-2021

Back to school is always a stressful time for families scrambling to get their children ready for the coming year. It is also a busy time for our Education Law Program, which was launched in 2003 to help families address unlawful conditions that keep their kids out of school. From what we’re seeing, this year has been particularly fraught because families in Ontario are struggling to understand the difference between what’s lawful and what’s desirable around COVID-19. As the precise details of reopening plans, vaccines, and the impact of new variants continue to evolve, it can be particularly challenging for families to advocate effectively on their children’s behalf. Having a basic understanding of the laws impacting schooling can help.

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DON’T THINK CORPORATE LAWYERS CAN DO PRO BONO? THINK AGAIN

Jul-22-2021

If you ask a highly skilled corporate lawyer why they’re nervous about volunteering through PBO’s Free Legal Advice Hotline, you will often hear a more or less diplomatic version of: “I practice in a very niche area of law and couldn’t possibly help someone with a real problem.” The irony is that the exact traits that make some corporate lawyers hesitant – the desire to provide excellent service, conscientiousness, and deep commitment to their professional and ethical obligations – make them ideally suited to pro bono service. The fact is that pro bono is not just for litigators.

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THE LAWYERS’ GUIDE TO GIVING BACK: THREE SIMPLE WAYS TO HELP PBO CLOSE THE JUSTICE GAP

Jun-8-2021

Milestone anniversaries instinctively spark reflection on what has been and what will be. PBO is proud to be celebrating 20 years of connecting lawyers with those in need. In our opening blog post, we observed that COVID-19 forced us to grow up fast; last year, we faced unprecedented, crushing demand for legal services. We brought a historic number of volunteer lawyers together to meet it. We then equipped those amazing lawyers with our state-of-the-art technology so they could help clients from home.

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WHAT WOULD HOLISTIC LEGAL CARE FOR SENIORS LOOK LIKE?

Mar-25-2021

2021 marks Pro Bono Ontario’s 20th anniversary. As we take stock of what we have accomplished and learned over the years, we are also asking ourselves how we can do more to bridge the gap for vulnerable Ontarians, like seniors. Through our Free Legal Advice Hotline, our Medical-Legal Partnerships, and our court-based centres, PBO has been helping seniors meet their urgent legal needs, addressing issues like housing insecurity, consumer scams, financial exploitation and abuse, and estate planning issues. In our experience, legal advocacy is integral to effective elder care and it should be provided in a manner that addresses the unique challenges they face.

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PREVENTION AND CURE: ONTARIANS NEED STRONGER CONSUMER PROTECTIONS AND ADVOCACY SUPPORTS

Feb-11-2021

The provincial government is currently undertaking the first review of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) in 15 years. Having answered more than 8,500 consumer calls on the Free Legal Advice Hotline since 2017, PBO believes amendments cannot come soon enough. Most of our suggestions to the government have focussed on the issue we see more often than any other on our consumer line: long-term leases for home equipment that consumers did not want or need and cannot afford, often sold door-to-door. While the Ontario government restricted the door-to-door sale of many products starting March 2018, too many unscrupulous vendors remain undeterred.

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No Easy Answers: Navigating the Top 4 Landlord-Tenant Issues during COVID-19

Jan-14-2021

The COVID-19 virus has disrupted society and every element of our lives. In few instances is this as evident as in Ontario’s unfolding housing law crisis, which illustrates both the large scale and intimate ways this pandemic is affecting us. Between the economic disruption, lockdown orders and health and safety measures, the pandemic has placed significant pressure on the places where we live, eat, sleep, and (increasingly, if we are lucky) now also work. PBO’s Free Legal Advice Hotline has answered over 10,000 calls from tenants and landlords since the COVID-19 crisis hit.

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Levelling the Playing Field: How Pro Bono Help Can Change Lives for the Better

Dec-10-2020

When we think about access to justice, we also think about fundamental fairness. We think about the fact that the people who call us are often fighting uphill battles against large institutions. We know those institutions are often just doing their job, but we also know that the playing field isn’t level. When you’re an elderly person trying to convince a financing company that your furnace rental contract just isn’t fair, you are swimming against a very strong current. When you’re a tenant on social assistance trying to resist eviction proceedings brought by a large property manager, you are staring up a high, steep mountain. When you’re an employee mulling over a severance package, knowing you are owed more but tempted to sign because you badly need some money, that is not a fair fight

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