You can find older events that were advertised on this website on our Events Archive.
Welcome Groups for Refugee Claimants - Volunteer Training Manual
During the 2019 fiscal year, NLS also provided insights and guidance to the Together Project, a Toronto based organization which connects refugee newcomers and Canadians in the aims of building stronger and more integrated communities. Our work with this organization went into a publication recently released by the Together Project entitled, Welcome Groups for Refugee Claimants - Volunteer Training Manual. The Manual targets to empower volunteers with an overview of the knowledge and tools most useful in providing social support to refugee claimants. Welcome Groups for Refugee Claimants is based on a one-year pilot program, with support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation which matches refugee youth, single parent household, or large family with Canadian volunteers to ease the transition of relocation from a country of persecution.
You can view the manual HERE.
NLS Supports the Challenge to the Safe Third Country Agreement
Read about the challenge HERE
Statement from the Board of Directors
The Board is pleased to announce that Jennifer Stone has taken on the position of Interim Executive Director at Neighbourhood Legal Services. Jennie has been with NLS since 2010, practicing immigration law and managing the Health Justice Program, a partnership including HALCO, ARCH, and ALS, which provides embedded legal services for patients of St. Michael’s Academic Family Health Team. Prior to joining NLS, she co-founded the Hong Kong Refugee Advice Centre (now Justice Centre HK) which provides free legal representation to refugee claimants and vulnerable migrants. Jennie’s leadership experience will serve her well as Interim Executive Director and she will be instrumental in ensuring that NLS continues to deliver quality services while also assisting the Board as we determine how best to respond to the Legal Aid system modernization. Please join me in welcoming Jennie in her new role.
We also take this opportunity to say thank you and farewell Jack DeKlerk, who retired on September 30th, 2019. Jack first started working in a legal clinic in 1976 just after he and others in the Federation of Metro Tenants Associations formed Metro Tenants Legal Services. After a run at municipal politics, developing housing co-operatives and practicing law as a sole practitioner, Jack came back to working in the clinic system and has been at Neighbourhood Legal Services since 1998. Jack has served on the executive of the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario, chairperson of the Toronto Legal Clinics Management Group (TLCMG) and played a key role in the GTA Clinic Transformation work. Throughout his career, Jack fought for justice, access to justice and affordable housing. He touched the lives of many clients and colleagues, many of whom joined us in celebrating Jack’s retirement on September 26th.
Aadil Mangalji, Chair, Board of Directors
Family Reunification PILOT PROJECT
The Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship initiated a two-year pilot project to allow sponsorship applications for certain family members who were previously banned from being sponsored
Read more HERE
Toronto Star Article:
Sweeping cuts to legal clinics called a ‘directed attack’ on Toronto and organizations challenging Ford government
ACLCO STATEMENT ON LEGAL AID CUTS
Toronto (June 12, 2019) – The Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario (ACLCO) condemns the cuts in community legal clinic services to the province’s poorest and most vulnerable people, flowing from the Ontario government’s spring budget. The April 11th provincial budget announced a 30% decrease in legal aid funding. Today, Legal Aid Ontario implemented the cuts to the clinic system.
Read the statement HERE
FEDERAL COURT DECISION
The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration affirms that subsection 5(4) of the Citizenship Act is available to applicants facing “special and unusual hardship” to request an exemption from application and processing fees, and that these requests will be considered and adjudicated.
Download Decision Below
Federal Court Decision Re; Waiver of Citizenship Application Fee
260 Wellesley Street East Situation
Heat & hydro returned to all 33 floors.
In the meantime, sanitary water (not suitable for drinking) will continue to be made available for tenant use from Toronto Fire. Bottles of water for drinking will be provided to each floor. Hot meals from the property owner are available for the tenants at the property management office at 240 Wellesley St East. The Wellesley Community Centre remains open for tenant use.
Important Legal Information provided by Neighbourhood Legal Services and posted on Kristyn Wong-Tam's website: https://www.kristynwongtam.ca/legal_information_for_tenants
From last night's meeting.
Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam is collecting tenant emails: https://www.kristynwongtam.ca/260wellesleyeastupdates
The Landlord has set up a website to provide updates: www.260wellesley.ca
The fire marshall has determined that there is no present fire danger in the building and that it is safe to occupy. This is not the same thing as meeting basic housing maintenance standards, but it was decided that people are safer to stay in the building than to try and disperse and rehouse 1000+ people with an evacuation order. The following measures are in place to ensure continued safety:
The fire department is providing some services to help make the building more liveable:
There is a restoration company that’s been hired to do the repair as quickly as possible. They need 48 hours to dry out the electrical system so they can test it; then they will know if it is functional, or whether they need to do work on it. This could lead to a prolonged power outage, and the possible need to take measures to evacuate the building. They have no idea whether this will be necessary.
Power was cut after a burst pipe flooded the electrical room on Tuesday afternoon.
No evacuation order has been issued for the building, however if the electrical problem cannot be fixed within the next day or two they may require tenants to evacuate.
If they can’t fix it in the next 24 hours it will probably take at least a week to have the problem resolved.
The City is planning a public meeting to inform residents about what is happening. The date, time and location are yet to be confirmed but they are hoping to hold it tomorrow night (the 24th) in a nearby location.
The City is taking a very strong stance that the Landlord is responsible for making arrangements for displaced residents, and covering the costs of temporary accommodations.
We will continue to provide updates as we receive them. You can also call Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam's office at 416-392-7903.
Social Assistance Reform Announcements:
These announcements were made by Minister Lisa MacLeod on November 22, 2018. It will probably taking many months before any of the changes are implemented. The biggest take away from the announcements:
For more details please see this release from Income Security & Advocacy Centre's (ISAC) website.
More details will be posted when they become available.
650 Parliament Fire
On August 21, 2018 there was a major fire at 650 Parliament St. As a result the residents were evacuated from the 300+ unit apartment building. At this time the landlord is not able to confirm a date when tenants can return to their homes.
The fire originated in the building’s main electrical room and spread throughout the building’s electrical system and caused extensive damage to that system and much of the equipment. Presently the building is without general power and has only very limited functioning. The lack of power means that fire and life safety systems, including fire alarms are not operative, there is very limited elevator service and individual apartments have no power. Obviously normal living in the building is not possible.
The Toronto Fire Marshall has dictated that access to the building must be limited and granted only on very restrictive terms:
E-FILING AT THE LANDLORD & TENANT BOARD
Tenants can now electronically file applications about Tenant Rights and Maintenance through the Landlord & Tenant Board's website. Click here to e-file your application.
Social assistance reform: Improving the system and using the appeals process to protect rights
(Courtesy of CLEO)
As part of its Poverty Reduction Strategy, the provincial government set up the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario. Last month, the Commission released its second Discussion Paper, Approaches to Reform, which looks at "different approaches to improving some of the key areas of the social assistance system."
The Commission has asked for input by March 16 to help them decide on the recommendations they will make to the government in June.
The government has said that one of its goals is to change the rules so that they are easier for people to understand and easier for social assistance workers to apply.
Currently, many of the rules about getting assistance from Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) are complicated. And complicated rules can often lead to disputes about entitlement.
Sometimes people whose assistance is refused, reduced, or cut off do not know that they may have a right to appeal the decision to the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT).
How the appeal process works now
Someone who is refused assistance can appeal only if they have completed an application. If they withdrew their application or did not finish it, they will not be able to appeal, but they still have the right to make a new application.
Before an appeal can be filed with the SBT, a written request for an internal review must be made to the office that made the decision. This will be the local OW office or, for ODSP, the local ODSP office or the Disability Adjudication Unit. An internal review means that a different person in the office that made the decision will review the decision and decide whether or not to change it.
Some decisions cannot be appealed. But even if a decision cannot be appealed, an internal review can be requested.
There are deadlines for requesting an internal review and for filing an appeal with the SBT. If it is after the deadline, it is possible to ask for an extension of time in an internal review request or an appeal, explaining the reason for missing the time limit.
Most community legal clinics in Ontario help people to appeal OW and ODSP decisions. Legal Aid Ontario's website has information about finding a community legal clinic.
Reforms could reduce the need for some appeals
The right to appeal a negative decision is an important element of the social assistance system and an appeal to the SBT can be an effective remedy for someone whose assistance has been refused, cut off, or reduced.
But rules that are easy to understand and apply could help people get the assistance they need faster and without an appeal hearing. A fair system should also give people enough money to meet the cost of living and provide the supports that are needed by people who can work.
The Social Assistance Review is an opportunity to say how you think the government should act to reduce poverty in Ontario and improve the system for people who need assistance.
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