Outreach & Special Projects
In addition the services we provide for our community every day, NLS is also engaged in outreach activity, and has also undertaken and completed a number of special projects that have been highly acclaimed within the legal aid and broader legal fraternity, as well as the community at large. This page highlights some of our special projects.
gta clinic transformation project
NLS Board and staff and our friends in the community, are as committed as ever to ensuring that legal aid services continue to be available to those in our community who need them. We also understand that changing professional standards, administrative responsibilities to funders, electronic communication possibilities, the increased complexity we all face in our lives, and the increased cost of all that we need and do, make smaller organizations like community legal clinics less viable. Moreover the dramatic demographic change we have seen in the GTA in the past 40 years requires that the resources available for community legal aid services be re-aligned.
Along with our colleagues in the other community legal clinics in the GTA, NLS is engaged in an analysis of how we can change to better position ourselves in the current environment. In 2012, under the leadership of NLS, the six community legal clinics in the east end of Toronto worked together to identify the structures and collaborations that could improve access to justice for low-income communities. With the help of consultants, we talked with front line staff, clients, community leaders, as well as legal clinic staff across Ontario and around the world. This consultation identified the barriers to access and developed new ideas for the community legal clinic system.
In January 2013, we received a discussion document from the consultants entitled 'Refining the delivery of client-centred poverty law'. This document recommended clinics be larger and redefine their catchment areas to be more in line with contemporary population patterns. By June 2013, 16 of 17 GTA clinics had agreed to participate in exploring the options laid out in the report, and, with funding from Legal Aid Ontario, we hired consultants to help with the process. The GTA Clinic Transformation Project has now gathered demographic data, information on community needs through interviews with key stakeholders and consolidating information on the work that clinics have been doing. The Project’s Steering Committee, made up of representatives of all the participating clinics, is directing the work. NLS Director of Legal Services Jack de Klerk is the Co-Lead on the project, along with Marjorie Hiley, the Executive Director of Flemingdon Community Legal Services. We are expecting a report from the consultants and the Steering Committee by early summer in 2014. It will recommend among other things how clinics should be realigned, including how many clinics there should be. Then it will be decision time; time to decide how to proceed.
For more information and to join the discussion, please visit: www.gtaclinics.ca.
With financial assistance from the Law Foundation, NLS began the Family Reunification Project in 2010. The Project initially focused on training front-line workers at refugee serving agencies and developing easy-to-use resources in the area of immigration law in the context of family reunification. The training component of the Project was completed with numerous community agencies having benefited from specialized training that helps them assist their clients in forwarding their family reunification claims.
The final phase of the Family Reunification Project has involved setting up a website to serve as a Knowledge Hub for the Immigration Processing of Family Members to assist family members the community agencies that may be assisting them in their applications for permanent residence in Canada. The website was launched in November 2013, and it aims to help you understand Canada's immigration system and family reunification programs and related laws.
The site will be updated periodically with new information and user-friendly material so be sure to check back regularly. We encourage you to look at the Resources section for downloadable material, including a Power Point presentation with notes, as well as a PDF document with easy-to-understand information about the processing of family members under the Canadian immigration rules and regulations.
You can access the Family Reunification Knowledge Hub by clicking here.