[ Browse by Service Category : Criminal Justice and Legal Services : Sub-Topics of Legal Services (401) ]

Benefits Assistance

Programs that provide assistance for people who are having difficulty understanding and/or obtaining grants, payments, services or other benefits to which they are entitled by law. The programs may help people understand the eligibility criteria for benefits, the benefits provided by the program, the payment process and the rights of beneficiaries; provide consultation and advice; help them complete benefits application forms; negotiate on their behalf with benefits administration staff; and/or represent them in administrative processes or judicial litigation. Included are benefits counselling organizations that offer a range of advocacy services and legal aid programs that offer more formalized legal assistance.

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Citizenship/Immigration/Refugee Services

Programs that administer the laws in Canada which govern the conditions under which immigrants, refugees and visitors can legally enter and/or remain in the country or become citizens; and/or which provide assistance for people who need legal advice about how to proceed. Included are organizations that review and make administrative decisions regarding immigration, refugee and citizenship applications as well as those that help people complete and file application forms and/or appeal decisions.

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Certificates/Forms Assistance

Programs that help people obtain, complete and/or file official forms, certificates, documents, applications or other paperwork that is required to apply for benefits or services, initiate or respond to legal action or to officially handle or document the occurrence of a transaction; that help people acquire copies of official documents on file elsewhere; or that review legal documentation an individual has received to help explain its meaning.

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Commissioner of Oaths

A public official in Canada who is authorized to administer oaths, affirmations and solemn declarations for people making affidavits or statutory declarations.

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Discrimination Assistance

Programs that provide assistance for people who believe that they have been treated unfairly or denied normal privileges based on their age, gender, race or ethnocultural origin, nationality, religion, disability, source of income, sexual orientation, same-sex partner status, criminal convictions, political beliefs, marital status or family status. Discrimination protections may be covered by provisions of the Charter of Rights, but are more frequently addressed by statutory law at the federal, provincial or municipal level.

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Estate Planning Assistance

Programs that offer a review of options and assistance to people who want to provide for the administration and/or protection of their assets during their lifetime, develop a plan for managing their finances in the event of a disabling illness, prepare binding instructions for the health care they wish to receive or avoid should they become terminally ill, make arrangements for the disposition of their assets with a minimum amount of taxation upon their death and provide for the administration of their estate should their spouse or other beneficiaries be incapable of managing their affairs. Estate planning provides an opportunity for individuals to make their wishes known and to name the person(s) who will be responsible for carrying out those directives. Tools available during the estate planning process include a Last Will and Testament, durable power of attorney for health care, durable financial power of attorney and a directive to physicians such as a living will, natural death directive or other document recognized by the province. A revocable living trust may also be appropriate in some circumstances.

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Ex-Offender Legal Assistance

Programs that provide legal assistance for people who recently have been released from a correctional facility and need advice related to their status as ex-offenders.

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Family Law

Programs that provide assistance for people who are involved in disputes or legal actions which affect their domestic relationships.

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General Legal Aid

Programs that provide legal counselling and/or representation for low-income individuals who need assistance in routine legal matters, usually in the area of bankruptcy, housing, public benefits, family law, elder law or immigration/naturalization.

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Labour and Employment Law

Programs that provide legal assistance for people who want to establish employment practices that will minimize or eliminate problems in the employment area or who need to resolve a dispute or initiate or respond to litigation which relates to their role as employers or employees, their rights and obligations. Labour and employment law deals with a variety of issues including wage and hour compliance, workplace health and safety, interview and hiring practices, employee contracts, employee benefits, maternity/paternity leaves, medical leaves, supervision and discipline, workplace privacy, workplace violence, sexual harassment and wrongful termination.

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Labour Relations

Programs that provide assistance for employer and employee groups who are in the process of negotiating, fixing, maintaining, changing or arranging the terms, tenure, hours, wages, fringe benefits or conditions of employment. Included are programs that protect the employee's right to organize, oversee the union election process, and settle disputes between labour and management groups as well as those that provide technical assistance for labour and management groups to help them develop and maintain effective working relationships and avoid controversies before they arise.

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Landlord/Tenant Assistance

Programs that provide assistance, information and support for tenants and/or landlords who are involved in rental housing disputes; or which administer provincial laws or local ordinances which govern rent control and other aspects of tenant/landlord relations.

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Legal Assistance Referral Services

Programs that maintain lists of lawyers, paralegals, mediators and other legal professionals and services, and link people who need legal assistance with those who specialize in the required area of law.

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Name Change Assistance

Programs that provide assistance for people who want to file a petition to legally change their name.

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Patient Rights Assistance

Programs that provide information, education, advocacy and/or other forms of legal assistance which relate to the rights of people who are patients in a health or mental health care facility, who are residents of convalescent or other long or short-term care facilities including adult residential care homes, or who are incapacitated and are being cared for at home by family members. Services may also be available to significant others of these individuals.

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Protective/Restraining Orders

Programs that provide assistance for people who need to obtain legal protection to prevent harassment, stalking or violence in situations involving child abuse, domestic abuse, elder abuse, abduction, sexual assault, stalking or other forms of harassment or the threat of workplace violence. Depending on the situation, a person may have more than one type of order. Restraining and personal protection order laws vary from one jurisdiction to another but all establish who can file for an order, what protection or relief a person can get from such an order and how the order will be enforced. The court will order the adverse party to refrain from certain actions and/or require compliance with certain provisions. Failure to comply is a violation of the order which can result in the arrest and prosecution of the offender. Violations in some jurisdictions may also constitute criminal or civil contempt of court.

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School System Advocacy

Programs that assist families in their interactions with the school system which may include help with school registration, enrollment of children in special programs, intervention on behalf of students facing disciplinary action or expulsion and other activities which facilitate communication between families and school staff.

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The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.