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Apr 13, 2017

New ODSP Medical Reviews

For more information about the new ODSP Medical Review process, check out the Income Security Advocacy Centre's blog.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate contact us at 613-541-0777.

 

Apr 07, 2017

Education Law Blog

Today's blog piece is about expulsion. Here are some fun facts:

  • In the school year of 2013-2014, 452 students were expelled in Ontario.
  • Of the 452 students, 53 were female students, and 399 were male students.
  • 93% of the expelled students were secondary students.
  • 30% of the expelled students were students with special education needs.

What do these numbers tell? A male secondary school student with special education needs is more likely to be suspended than students in other categories. While the proportion of the expelled students being special education needs students does not seem terribly high, it is worth noting that "students with special education needs" are defined as students who are identified as exceptional by an Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) and have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) in place. Students who have an IPRC in place are often students with a severe disability. Many special-need students have IEP only and would therefore qualify as "students with special education needs."

In other words, the actual proportion of expelled students being special-needs students might be a lot higher than 30%. These students need every ounce of education to succeed in life, and being expelled is simply bad news for them.

The activities that can lead to an expulsion are listed under the Education Act s. 310(1). These are situations where a principal must suspend a student, for:

  • Possessing a weapon, including possessing a firearm
  • Using a weapon to cause or to threaten bodily harm to another person
  • Committing physical assault on another person that causes bodily harm requiring treatment by a medical practitioner
  • Committing sexual assault
  • Trafficking in weapons or illegal drugs
  • Committing robbery
  • Giving alcohol to a minor
  • Bullying if the student has previously been suspended for engaging in bullying, and the student's continuing presence in the school creates an unacceptable risk to the safety of another person.
  • Hate crimes

A mandatory suspension would typically last for 20 school days. During these 20 school days, a principal shall commence an investigation to decide whether to recommend an expulsion to the school board. A principal has no jurisdiction to expel a student. Only a school board may expel a student after an expulsion hearing.

If a student is expelled, he or she may be expelled from the school, or from all schools in the school board. When a student is expelled from his or her school, that student may transfer to another school of the school board, or to another school under a different school board. If a student is expelled from the entire school board, he or she would have to attend a school under a different school board.

For students expelled from the school board, a support program should be available, and the principal shall develop a Student Action Plan, where it identifies the academic program that an expelled student must complete before transferring to another school under a different school board.

Being suspended for 20 school days pending an expulsion is certainly stressful. If you would like to find out how you could appeal an expulsion, my next blog piece talks about the appeal process.

If you are facing an expulsion and would like to receive legal advice, please contact Kingston Community Legal Clinic for free legal services.

 


This column, written by Sandra Hsia, Staff Lawyer with the Kingston Community Legal Clinic (KCLC), provides general legal information only about current laws. If you need legal advice you should contact a lawyer. If you are living on a low income you may be eligible for free legal help. Contact your local community legal clinic if you need help with income programs, workers’ or tenants’ rights, consumer problems, or human rights. Call Kingston Community Legal Clinic at 613-541-0777. If you have a criminal, family or immigration law problem, contact Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 or visit www.legalaid.on.ca.

Apr 05, 2017

New Medical Review Process

To read more about the new medical review process, read this bulletin.

Mar 23, 2017

Education Law Blog

Suspension Part III: Appeal Hearing

While my last blog piece talked about the appeal process and grounds of appeal for discretionary suspensions, this week's article is about the appeal hearing itself. If you have reached this stage in the appeal process, it means you have exhausted the early resolution meeting and did not come to an agreement with the school board.

I regularly advise all my clients to prepare for the appeal hearing as soon as they have filed the notice to appeal. Because the school board is obligated to hold an appeal hearing within 15 school days of receiving the notice, the appeal hearing can happen sooner than you think.

What does the appeal hearing look like, and who can participate? The appeal hearing is held in front of the appeal hearing committee, which is composed of school board trustees. The two opposing parties would be your child and his/her representatives, and the principal. The hearing could take up to two hours. The hearing typically follows the following pattern:

 

1.     The hearing committee explains the rules.

2.     Either party may bring forward preliminary issues if there is any.

3.     The student and his/her representative make an opening statement.

4.     The principal and his/her representative make an opening statement.

5.     The student and his/her representatives call their witnesses and conduct direct examinations.

6.     The principal and his/her representative conduct cross-examinations on the preceding witnesses.

7.     The principal and his/her representative call their witnesses and conduct direct examinations.

8.     The student and his/her representative conduct cross-examinations on the witnesses.

9.     The student and his/her representative make a closing statement.

10. The principal and his/her representative make a closing statement.

11. The hearing committee makes a decision.

Here are some of the things you should do to prepare for the hearing:

1.    Read the school board’s policy carefully. Each school board has its policy about the hearing process. Ask the school board for a copy, as they have a duty to provide it.

2.    Ask for disclosure. You should have a chance to review all the notes relating to the incident leading to the suspension. At least one week before the hearing date, ask the school board to provide you with disclosure.

3.    Review the disclosure. The disclosure should tell you which students or school staff witnessed the event, and what your child disclosed. When you are reading the disclosure, ask yourself:

  • Did the principal conduct a thorough investigation? Were all witnesses questioned?
  • Did the disclosure tell a different story than what your child has told you?
  • Should the school have done anything to prevent the incident from happening?
  •  Was action provoked? Was your child being bullied?

4.     Formulate your argument by utilizing the mitigating factors which I wrote about in my previous blog piece.

5.     Think about what witnesses to call. Would your child be okay with testifying at the hearing and being cross-examined? Does your child have a friend who is willing to testify?

Before going into the hearing, you should be aware of your rights, which include:

  • The right to present any relevant evidence
  • The right to make a statement
  • The right to call witnesses
  • The right to conduct direct examinations on your witnesses
  • The right carry out cross-examinations on the principal and any of the school board's witnesses

If the hearing committee denies any of these rights, do not concede. These rights are guaranteed under the Statutory Powers Procedure Act, to ensure that each person receives a fair hearing.

At the end of the hearing, the hearing committee will decide to:

  •  Confirm both the decision to suspend and the duration of the suspension, OR
  •  Confirm the decision to suspend but shorten the length, OR
  •  Quash the decision to suspend and expunge the record of the suspension.

The student shall receive a written decision shortly after the hearing. This decision is final. The only way to appeal this decision would be to proceed with a judicial review application to the Divisional Court.

If you are about to proceed with a suspension hearing, or if you have lost a suspension hearing and wants legal advice on the possibility of initiating a judicial review application, please do not hesitate to contact Kingston Community Legal Clinic for assistance.

 

 


This blog, written by Sandra Hsia, Staff Lawyer with the Kingston Community Legal Clinic, provides general legal information only about current laws.

Mar 09, 2017

Education Law Blog

Today I am writing about the appeal process and the grounds of appeal, which you may utilize to appeal a discretionary suspension. For those of you who do not know what a discretionary suspension is, it is a situation where a school principal invokes the Education Act, s.306 (1) to suspend a pupil.

Why should anyone appeal a school suspension? The simple answer is, school suspensions are not always fair. There are times where a principal has not conducted a thorough investigation or carefully considered the mitigating factors. The more complicated answer is:

  • Students miss education when they are suspended, and schools do not always provide them with alternative means of education. The more they are suspended, the farer behind they become. It is a downward spiral.
  • Students who appeal suspensions may be less likely to be suspended again. Ever heard of the saying “The squeaky wheels get the grease?”
  • Records of suspension may affect a student’s chances of getting admitted to a good university/college.
  • Peer-reviewed journal articles have shown that school suspensions are not an effective mean to modify a student’s behaviour.
  • Often, students who are suspended are children with a disability and are suspended for disability-related behaviour. That is not fair.

That being said, what exactly do you have to do to appeal a school suspension? Here are some tips.

Send a written notice to appeal the suspension as soon as possible. A written notice must be sent within 10 school days of the commencement of the suspension to appeal the suspension. If you miss the deadline, you may still be able to appeal the suspension if:

  • You never received the notice of suspension or you only received it after 10 school days of the commencement of the suspension.
  • The notice of suspension is defective. The notice does not state the reasons and the durations of the suspension. The notice does not tell you whom you should send your notice to. The notice does not tell you the appeal procedure to appeal the suspension. The notice does not come with a copy of the school board’s appeal policies.

When drafting the notice to appeal the suspension, consider stating why you think the suspension shouldn’t have taken place. A principal shall consider the following mitigating factors before deciding to suspend a pupil:

  • The pupil does not have the ability to control his or her behaviour.
  • The pupil does not have the ability to understand the foreseeable consequences of his or her behaviour.
  • The pupil’s continuing presence in the school does not create an unacceptable risk to the safety of any person.

A principal should also consider:

  • The pupil’s history.
  • Whether a progressive discipline approach has been used with the pupil.
  • Whether the activity for which the pupil may be or is being suspended or expelled was related to any harassment of the pupil because of his or her race, ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation or to any other harassment.
  • How the suspension or expulsion would affect the pupil’s ongoing education.
  • The age of the pupil.
  • In the case of a pupil for whom an individual education plan has been developed,

i.   whether the behaviour was a manifestation of a disability identified in the pupil’s individual education plan,

ii.  whether appropriate individualized accommodation has been provided, and

iii. whether the suspension or expulsion is likely to result in an aggravation or worsening of the pupil’s behaviour or conduct.

 If you believe the principal hasn’t considered these factors, you should put that into your notice to appeal the suspension.

 

Other arguments you may utilize include (but are not limited to):

  • The alleged incident did not happen
  • The pupil was trying to defend him/herself
  • The pupil was suspended for disability-related behaviour (this is a human rights argument)
  • This is the first time the alleged incident takes place. The principal should have exercised progressive discipline.
  • The principal should have considered exercising alternative means of disciplining the pupil (something that has educational value, such as extra assignments)

After receiving the notice of the suspension, the school board shall contact you about the next step. Most school boards would offer an early resolution meeting, where you would have an opportunity to resolve the dispute without proceeding with a suspension hearing. It is important for you to show up at that meeting, so that you may find out more about what exactly happened, and whether the school board might be agreeable to:

  • Revoke the suspension
  • Reduce the duration of the suspension
  • Revoke the suspension if nothing else happens until a certain date (a conditional suspension)

If you and the school board are not able to come to an agreement at the meeting, the school board shall hold an appeal hearing within 15 school days of receiving your notice.

What happens at the appeal hearing? Well, that would be the topic for my next blog piece.

 If your children are suspended by a principal, or if you are about to proceed with a suspension appeal hearing, I strongly advise that you contact Kingston Community Legal Clinic, where I may represent students in a suspension appeal hearing for free.

 


This column, written by Sandra Hsia, Staff Lawyer, Kingston Community Legal Clinic, provides general legal information only about current laws. If you need legal advice you should contact a lawyer. If you are living on a low income you may be eligible for free legal help. Contact your local community legal clinic if you need help with income programs, workers’ or tenants’ rights, consumer problems, or human rights. Call Kingston Community Legal Clinic at 613-541-0777 or visit www.kclc.ca.  If have a criminal, family or immigration law problem, contact Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 or visit www.legalaid.on.ca.

 

 

Feb 23, 2017

Education Law Blog

Suspension Part I: Discretionary Suspension v. Mandatory Suspension

This blog piece discusses the types of suspensions that a principal can exercise to discipline pupils, and the activities that can lead to suspensions.

 

It is important for a pupil and the parents/guardians to distinguish the different types of suspensions, because the appeal processes differ.

Under the Education Act there are two types of suspensions, namely, discretionary suspensions and mandatory suspensions. Discretionary suspensions arise from situations where, under the Education Act, a principal can choose whether or not to suspend a student, whereas mandatory suspensions are situations where a principal must suspend a student.

Activities that may lead to discretionary suspension are listed under the Education Act, s.306 (1):

  • Uttering a threat to inflict serious bodily harm on another person
  • Possessing alcohol or illegal drugs
  • Being under the influence of alcohol
  • Swearing at a teacher or at another person in a position of authority
  • Committing an act of vandalism that causes extensive damage to school property at the pupil’s school or to properly located on the premises of the pupil’s school
  • Bullying
  • Any other activity that is an activity for which a principal may suspend a pupil under a policy of the board

Activities that may lead to mandatory suspensions are listed under the Education Act, s.310 (1):

  • Possessing a weapon, including possessing a firearm
  • Using a weapon to cause or to threaten bodily harm to another person
  • Committing physical assault on another person that causes bodily harm requiring treatment by a medical practitioner
  • Committing sexual assault
  • Trafficking in weapons or in illegal drugs
  • Committing robbery
  • Giving alcohol to a minor
  • Bullying if the pupil has previously been suspended for bullying and the pupil’s continuing presence in the school creates an unacceptable risk to the safety of another person
  • Any activities listed in s.306(1) that is motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or any other similar factor.

When a principal invokes the Education Act s.310(1) to suspend a pupil, the principal must conduct an investigation, during which the principal shall make all reasonable efforts to speak with the pupil, the pupil’s parents/guardians, and any other person who may have relevant information. Once the investigation is completed, the principal shall make a recommendation to the school board regarding whether to expel the pupil or not. Essentially, a mandatory suspension is a suspension pending possible expulsion.

For discretionary suspensions, a principal must issue a written notice of suspension to the pupil’s parents/guardians. The notice shall be issued promptly, and shall contain:

  • The reason for the suspension
  • The duration of the suspension
  • Information about any program for suspended pupils to which the pupil is assigned
  • Information about the right to appeal, including a copy of the board policies governing the appeal and the name and contact information of the supervisory officer.

For mandatory suspensions, a principal would also need to issue a notice containing reason of the suspension, the duration of the suspension, and information about assigned programs. However, there is no immediate right to appeal a mandatory suspension. A pupil can appeal a mandatory suspension only after the principal decides not to recommend expulsion. If the principal recommends expulsion, an expulsion hearing would take place.

The maximum duration of a suspension, regardless of whether it is discretionary or mandatory, is 20 days.

By now you are probably wondering what to do if you receive a notice of suspension. The first thing you should do is figuring out, from the notice:

  • who issued the notice and when was the notice issued
  • whether this is a suspension under s.306 or s.310
  • what is the duration of the suspension
  • what program is assigned to the pupil during the suspension
  • what is the alleged activity

Once you have an idea of why a pupil is suspended, you should decide whether to appeal the suspension or not. My next blog piece talks about the appeal process for a discretionary suspension and the mitigating factors that a principal should consider prior to suspending a pupil.

If you would like to appeal a suspension or an expulsion decision, kindly contact Kingston Community Legal Clinic to find out whether you are eligible for our free legal services.

 


 This column is written by Sandra Hsia,Staff Lawyer t the Kingston Community Legal Clinic (KCLC), provides general legal information only about current laws. If you need legal advice you should contact a lawyer. If you are living on a low income you may be eligible for free legal help. Contact your local community legal clinic if you need help with income programs, workers’ or tenants’ rights, consumer problems, or human rights. Call Kingston Community Legal Clinic at 613-541-0777. If you have a criminal, family or immigration law problem, contact Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 or visit www.legalaid.on.ca.

 

Jan 19, 2017

Education Law Blog

Corporal Punishment

Today I am writing about how our law deals with corporal punishment on children.

Corporal Punishment under the Criminal Code

Contrary to what most people may believe, the Criminal Code of Canada permits corporal punishment on a child, as s. 43 of the Code states:

Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances. (emphasis added)

What does a force that “does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances” mean? Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law v. Canada (Attorney General) 2004 SCC 4 is the leading case on this issue. The court in Canadian Foundation, at paragraph 37, specifies that corporal punishment is harmful to:  

  • A child under two years of age, because it has no corrective value

  • Teenagers, because if can induce aggressive or antisocial behaviour

The court further states that corporal punishment is physically and emotionall harmful when:

  • Objects, such as rulers or belts, are used
  • Slaps or blows to the head are involved

These types of punishment are not reasonable. What then, is reasonable punishment? The court, at paragraph 40, states that “Teachers may reasonably apply force to remove a child from a classroom or secure compliance with instructions, nut not merely as corporal punishment.” However, corporal punishment stemming from the teacher’s “frustration, loss of temper, or abusive personality” is not reasonable.

Corporal Punishment under Child Protection Rules

In Ontario, a Children’s Aid Society (CAS), under the Child and Family Services Act, may intervene with a family if it suspects that a child is being abused by caregivers. The Child and Family Services Act, s. 37(2) set out circumstances under which a child is in need of protection.

Considering these circumstances, it is fairly likely that CAS would intervene if parents practice corporal punishment on their children. In Children's Aid Society of Rainy River v. B.(C.), 2006 ONCJ 45, CAS intended to assign a child into foster care because the child’s mother was alleged to have practiced inappropriate physical discipline on the child, on occasions swore at her child, and engaged in sexually provocative behavior via the internet using her web-cam when the child was in the house. While the court finds this type of behavior is hardly model of good parenting skills, there was not enough evidence establishing “real likelihood of harm”. The court therefore ordered the child not to be assigned into foster care.

If you suspect that your children have been inappropriately disciplined in school, please do not hesitate to contact Kingston Community Legal Clinic for free legal advice.

For my next blog piece, I intend to discuss school suspensions and the type of activities that may cause a student to be suspended. Stay tuned!

 


This column, written by Sandra Hsia, Staff Lawyer, at the Kingston Community Legal Clinic (KCLC), provides general legal information only about current laws. If you need legal advice you should contact a lawyer. If you are living on a low income you may be eligible for free legal help. Contact your local community legal clinic if you need help with income programs, workers’ or tenants’ rights, consumer problems, or human rights. Call Kingston Community Legal Clinic at 613-541-0777. If you have a criminal, family or immigration law problem, contact Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 or visit www.legalaid.on.ca.

 

Jan 17, 2017

Energy Contracts

Energy Contracts – New Consumer Protection Rules

Good news! Effective January 1, 2017, there are new rules that protect consumers from predatory energy contracts. A summary of the rules are:

  • You cannot sign you up for an energy contract with an energy retailer while they are at your home.
  • Energy retailers may still come to your home and leave your information, but they may not leave a contract.
  • An energy retailer may approach you at your home, but there are limits on the time of day, and the number of times they may do so.
  • An energy retailer may not provide a gift card, gift certificate or other financial incentive, or any equipment, product or service, at your home to be redeemed after entering into, amending or renewing a contract.
  • An energy contract cannot be automatically renewed or extended.
  • If you enter into or renew a contract, you may cancel it within 30 days of getting your second bill under the contract. You have to pay those bills, but you won’t have to pay a cancellation fee.
  • If you cancel a contract the 30 days allowed for doing so, you may have to pay a cancellation fee. No matter how you entered into the contract, including online, you later have to confirm that you still want the contract.
  • You should be contacted within 10 – 45 days after you entered into the contract. If you do not want to continue with the contract, you must say so and you will not have to pay a cancellation fee.

For more information, check out the Ontario Energy Board's website.

 


This column, written by Kimberly Hurt, Licensed Paralegal, Kingston Community Legal Clinic (KCLC), provides general legal information only about current laws. If you need legal advice you should contact a lawyer. If you are living on a low income you may be eligible for free legal help. Contact your local community legal clinic if you need help with income programs, workers’ or tenants’ rights, consumer problems, or human rights. Call Kingston Community Legal Clinic at 613-541-0777. If you have a criminal, family or immigration law problem, contact Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 or visit www.legalaid.on.ca.

 

Jan 03, 2017

Education Blog

Immigrants’ Attendance Rights

Being a new immigrant in Canada can be challenging, especially when you have children. This article discusses immigrants’ right to education, and explains the circumstances under which an immigrant can obtain education free of charge.

Any immigrant under the age of 18 has a right to attend a local school. What about children of unlawful immigrants?

Schools cannot refuse to admit children whose parents are in Canada without immigration status. The Education Act s.49.1 says A person who is otherwise entitled to be admitted to a school and who is less than eighteen years of age shall not be refused admission because the person or the person’s parent or guardian is unlawfully in Canada.”

Further, the Ministry of Education Policy/Program Memorandum No. 136

[1] makes it clear that schools cannot refuse admission because the parents are unable to produce any of the following:

  •  Proof of immigration status or application for legal immigration status
  •  A work permit or social insurance number
  •  Health documentation that is different from that required of all other children
  •   Other documentation not required for other children seeking admission to school

However, proof of Canadian citizenship may be required for children seeking admission to a school in a French-language school board.

As for school fees, the Education Act s. 49(7) says the school board shall not charge a fee if:

  • The student is part of an educational exchange program
  • The student’s parents/guardians are in the military
  • The students’ parents/guardians are refugees
  • The student is awaiting determination of immigration status and his/her parents/guardians are Canadian citizen residents in Ontario
  • The student’s parents/guardians have a working permit to work in Canada

If you are an immigrant and you or your child is denied admission to a local school, kindly contact our office for advice.

 

Interested in learning about legal issues regarding corporal punishment in school? Stay tuned for the next blog piece!

 



 

 

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This column, written by Sandra Hsia, Lawyer, Kingston Community Legal Clinic (KCLC), provides general legal information only about current laws. If you need legal advice you should contact a lawyer. If you are living on a low income you may be eligible for free legal help. Contact your local community legal clinic if you need help with income programs, workers’ or tenants’ rights, consumer problems, or human rights. Call Kingston Community Legal Clinic at 613-541-0777. If you have a criminal, family or immigration law problem, contact Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 or visit www.legalaid.on.ca.

 



 

Dec 19, 2016

Education Law Blog

 

Ontario Residents’ Right to Attend a Public School without Paying a Fee

 

Any resident pupil, between the ages of 6 to 21, has a right to attend a school in a school section, separate school zone, or secondary school district, without payment of a fee. What is a resident pupil then? Under the Education Act, there are two types of resident pupils: one for the English-language public school boards, and one for the French-language public school boards.

The qualifications are quite similar. A resident pupil is a person between the age of 6 and 21, who resides in the school section, and whose parents or guardians also reside in the school section. For the French-language public school board, there is one added requirement. That is, the student must be a French-speaking person, and the parents/guardians support the student’s decision to attend a school governed under the French-language public school board.

What if a student’s parents do not live in Ontario, but send the student to Ontario to live with a relative?

Chou v. Chou, [2005] W.D.F.L. 2741, would shed some light on this issue.

In Chou, the parents of the student lived and worked in Hong Kong, although they were Canadian citizens. The parents sent their daughter to live with her aunt in Ontario. The School Board insisted that the daughter was not a resident pupil and asked her to pay non-resident school fees. The aunt applied for a judicial review of the School Board’s decision, and the judge in Chou ruled that since the aunt had lawful custody, the daughter was a resident pupil and had a right to attend school in her school section without paying a fee.

You may be wondering, what then, does lawful custody mean? Chou taught us that if a child lives with and is subject to the day to day care and control of an individual, with the parents’ express agreement, that individual would have “lawful custody” of the child.

What if a student wants to attend a school outside of the school zone?

Every resident pupil has a right to attend a school, although not necessarily a school of the student’s choice. There are a number of reasons why a student might want to attend a school outside of the school zone. For example, a student can attend a school outside of the school zone if that other school is more accessible.

What does “more accessible” mean? Bareham v. London Board of Education, 46 O.R. (2D) 705, says that accessibility must be considered in both geographical and temporal sense. It is a function of distance and travelling time. Further, the Education Act says that when a student should be allowed to attend the more accessible school if the student lives:

  • more than 3.2 km from the school that the student is required to attend, OR,
  • more than 0.8 km by the shortest distance to a transportation point (ie. bus stops)

Sometimes, a student may wish to attend a particular school because of a special education program that is offered at that school. If that is the issue here, then I would encourage you to contact Kingston Community Legal Clinic for advice.

 

This column, written by Sandra Hsia, Lawyer, Kingston Community Legal Clinic (KCLC), provides general legal information only about current laws. If you need legal advice you should contact a lawyer. If you are living on a low income you may be eligible for free legal help. Contact your local community legal clinic if you need help with income programs, workers’ or tenants’ rights, consumer problems, or human rights. Call Kingston Community Legal Clinic at 613-541-0777. If you have a criminal, family or immigration law problem, contact Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 or visit www.legalaid.on.ca.

Dec 02, 2016

Education Law Blog

Education Law Blog

Exclusion: What It Is and How You May Appeal It

In my last blog piece, I promised I would write about Ontario residents’ right to attend a school without paying a fee. I lied. Because I want to write about something that has become a common approach in Ontario schools, and therefore affect a lot of students.

This week, I want to talk about exclusions. For those of you who are not aware of this term, it is a situation where a school asks parents or guardians to pick up their children before the school day is completed. During the course of my employment, I have dealt with cases where a child with special needs was asked to stay home for weeks. Sometimes, the child was placed in a program in lieu of school attendance. Other times, the child simply stayed home and received no education.

A Principal’s Discretion to Exclude a Student

Where does a school get its discretion from? The Education Act s. 265 (1)(m) states that a school principal may:

(m) subject to an appeal to the board, to refuse to admit to the school or classroom a person whose presence in the school or classroom would in the principal’s judgment be detrimental to the physical or mental well-being of the pupils (emphasis added)

This Discretion is Limited

The Education Act s. 265 (1) (m) gives a principal fairly broad power to ban a student from school premises without suspending or expelling a student. You may want to ask, is there no limit on this power? Can a principal exclude a student because it is his or her judgment, that a student’s presence is detrimental to him/herself or to other students? Bonnah (Litigation Guardian of) v. Ottawa-Carleton District School Board [2003] O.J. No. 1156 is an Ontario Court of Appeal case explaining what "detrimental to the physical or mental well-being of the pupils" means.

In Bonnah, a student with a disability who is identified as exceptional by the Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (we will talk more about this committee later), is transferred to another school because the principal was concerned about him being a safety risk to himself, other students, and staff. Bonnah’s parents appealed this decision, and the Appeal Court held that an exceptional student’s right to retain current placement in a class or school cannot be overridden by any implied power to transfer for safety reasons, including the Education Act s. 265 (1)(m).

More importantly, Doharty J.A. examines the Education Act s. 265 (1) (m), and states:

Obviously, a principal can properly exercise these powers only where the safety concerns are genuine, and the principal's response to those concerns is a reasonable one in all of the circumstances. If it were shown that a principal used these powers to circumvent an obligation to leave an exceptional pupil in his or her placement pending an appeal, the court could intervene by way of judicial review just as it could if a principal used these powers for any other improper purpose.

Essentially, the lesson from Bonnah is this:

  • A principal may only exclude a student when there are genuine safety concerns.
  • A principal’s decision must be a reasonable one. A principal cannot exercise this power to unilaterally change a student’s placement. If a student is in a special education program full-time, a principal cannot exercise discretion to change it to a part-time program.

So, what does a “reasonable decision” look like? It might have been reasonable for a principal to send a student home early, when a student is having a bad day in school and creates an unmanageable risk, and an in-school suspension has no effect. It is not reasonable, when a student has a bad day in school, and the principal prohibits him/her from attending school for weeks.

What Exclusion Really Is

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Exclusion is a de facto suspension or expulsion. Exclusion has the same effect of a suspension or expulsion, in the sense that students would miss their education all the same. In fact, it is worse than a suspension or an expulsion, because:

  • A suspension can only be 20 days at the maximum. Under the Education Act, there is no limit as to how long a student may be excluded from school.
  • Suspensions and expulsions are appealable, and schools are required to issue a notice, which must include the appeal procedure, to parents when they decide to suspend or expel a student. When it comes to exclusions, there is no such requirement under the Education Act. As a result, parents are often not aware that they have a right to appeal exclusion.

What Should You Do if You are Excluded Constantly or for a Prolonged Period of Time

Any student or parent who does not agree with the exclusion should ask the school to provide you with a written decision with reasons. A school cannot deny this request. After reviewing the reasons, a student or parent may appeal this decision to the school board.

If you wish to appeal such a decision and require some legal advice, you may contact us.

For my next blog piece, I shall comply with my promise and write about Ontario residents’ right to attend a school without paying a fee.


This column, written by staff at the Kingston Community Legal Clinic (KCLC), provides general legal information only about current laws. If you need legal advice you should contact a lawyer. If you are living on a low income you may be eligible for free legal help. Contact your local community legal clinic if you need help with income programs, workers’ or tenants’ rights, consumer problems, or human rights. Call Kingston Community Legal Clinic at 613-541-0777. If you have a criminal, family or immigration law problem, contact Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 or visit www.legalaid.on.ca.

Nov 18, 2016

KCLC's Education Law Blog

Welcome to the Kingston Community Legal Clinic Education Law Blog. This blog has been created by Kingston Community Legal Clinic. The lawyers and paralegals in this clinic provide free legal services to eligible clients. The legal services include providing legal advice and representation regarding housing, social assistance, and education law.

In this blog, we will introduce our newly launched education law project, give an overview of various legal issues in education law, and discuss recent developments in Canadian education law.

This blog updates on a bi-weekly basis, and plans to cover legal issues including:

  • Ontario Residents’ Attendance Rights
  • Immigrants’ Attendance Rights
  • Corporal Punishment
  • Suspension Part I: Activities that may lead to suspension
  • Suspension Part II: Mitigating Factors and Progressive Discipline
  • Suspension Part III: Appeal Hearing
  • Expulsion Part I: Activities that may lead to expulsion
  • Expulsion Part II: Mitigating Factors and Progressive Discipline
  • Expulsion Part III: Appeal Process
  • Expulsion Part IV: Program for Expelled Students
  • Students’ Right Against Search and Seizure
  • Special Education: IPRC
  • Special Education: IEP
  • Human Right: Students’ Rights Against Discrimination
  • Canadian Education Law: Recent Developments

If you are an Ontario resident and want to attend a school out of your school district, check out the next article that discusses Ontario residents’ attendance rights!

________________________________________________________________

This column, written by staff at the Kingston Community Legal Clinic (KCLC), provides general legal information only about current laws. If you need legal advice you should contact a lawyer. If you are living on a low income you may be eligible for free legal help. Contact your local community legal clinic if you need help with income programs, workers’ or tenants’ rights, consumer problems, or human rights. Call Kingston Community Legal Clinic at 613-541-0777. If you have a criminal, family or immigration law problem, contact Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668- 8258 or visit www.legalaid.on.ca

Nov 07, 2016

Annual General Meeting

The meeting takes place on Thursday, November 17, 2016 from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm in the Delahaye Room at the Kingston Frontenac Public Library, 130 Johnson Street, Kingston. Please RSVP by Monday, November 14, 2016 to Rachel Evans, Office Manager at evansr@lao.onca

Jul 13, 2016

Did you live at a Schedule 1 institution?

 

For more information and assistance, read this.

Jun 13, 2016

Man Declared a Tenant

To read the complete article, click here.

May 14, 2016

Knights Inn tenant faces eviction

To read the article, click here.

Apr 15, 2016

Motel Tenants Take Action

To read the article, click here.

Sep 20, 2016

Motel Legal Rep calls process tainted

Read more here http://www.thewhig.com/2016/09/19/motels-legal-rep-calls-process-tainted

Dec 10, 2015

Seniors and Law Enforcement Together

 

Seniors and Law Enforcement Together (SALT) is a new initiative in South Frontenac to mobilize seniors to become involved with local police and other service agencies that focus on senior's needs in their community.

Issues that a SALT committee can assist seniors with include:

  • Crime prevention, in particular fraud
  • Telemarketers
  • Mail scams
  • E-mail scams
  • Injury prevention
  • Writing Wills/Power of attorneys
  • Financial information
  • Fire prevention

If you would like to be involed with SALT or would like more information, please contact:  Constable Roop Sandhu, Community Services Officer, Frontenac OPP at 613-372-1932, Ext. 6955 or by email at roop.sandhu@opp.ca.

 

 

 

Nov 26, 2015

Learn Law: November 2015

LEARN LAW
Is a reverse Mortgage a Good Idea for you?

In recent years an increasing number of seniors have been using “reverse mortgages” as a source of income. Seniors who can be described as “house rich, but cash poor” may find this option very attractive. However, if you or a loved one is a senior and is considering taking out a “reverse mortgage” there are a number of things to consider.

What is a Reverse Mortgage?

Normally with a mortgage, you borrow a certain amount of money and pay it back over a period of time through monthly payments. With a reverse mortgage the lender gives you a lump sum of money, or an agreed upon amount in intervals, but you make no payments. The interest is added to the balance of the loan and the loan grows steadily. When the homeowner dies or sells their home, the loan must be repaid from the proceeds of the sale of the home.

Advantages and disadvantages of a reverse mortgage

On first glance it seems like this is a great way to access cash as a senior, especially if you have inadequate retirement savings or income and find yourself cash strapped. There are no regular payments, you do not need to sell your home and can continue to live in it. Additionally, the income is tax free and does not affect Old Age Security (OAS) or Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) benefits. However, there are some drawbacks that must be considered.

First, the costs of a reverse mortgage are much higher when compared to other types of mortgages. Additionally, the homeowner must pay for a home appraisal fee, application fee, and a closing fee. There is also a penalty if you sell your house or move out within three years of getting the reverse mortgage. Finally, you must pay the fees for independent legal advice.

An example of the high costs of a reverse mortgage is if you borrow $150,000 after 10 years you could owe almost $270,000. This is just the cost of the interest and does not include the additional fees mentioned.

You should also keep in mind that if the reverse mortgage is outstanding at your death your estate must pay the balance, leaving much less money for your children or other heirs.

Alternative Options

 If you or a loved one is considering a reverse mortgage, you should be sure you understand the consequences and options. What may seem like an attractive choice at first reveals itself to be far more expensive and provides less flexibility than the alternatives. If you own your home a secured line of credit may provide a much lower cost of borrowing and also give you greater flexibility in repayment. There is also the option to sell the home and downsize to a smaller residence freeing up much needed cash.

 

More Information:
www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca/eng/resources/publications/mortgages/Pages/Understa-Comprend.aspx
 
 
Print

This column, written by staff or volunteer lawyers with the Community Advocacy & Legal Centre (CALC), provides general legal information only about current laws. If you need legal advice you should contact a lawyer. If you are living on a low income you may be eligible for free legal help. Contact your local community legal clinic if you need help with income programs, workers’ or tenants’ rights, consumer problems, or human rights. Call Kingston Community Legal Clinic at 613-541-0777 or visit www.kclc.ca. If have a criminal, family or immigration law problem, contact Legal Aid Ontario at1-800-668-8258 or visit www.legalaid.on.ca.

 

 

Nov 19, 2015

Medical legal partnerships could improve health of

 

We are looking to improve how we can reach people who may benefit from legal as much as medical help.  For more information, please read Elliot Ferguson's article in the Kingston Whig Standard.

 

Nov 04, 2015

Annual General Meeting 2015

The Board & Staff of Kingston Community Legal Clinic invite you to our Annual General Meeting. 

Guest speaker Dr. Nav Persaud will discuss "Health, Justice and Health Justice." Nav Persaud is a Staff Physician and Associate Scientist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto and an Associate Editor for the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Together with his colleagues at St Michael's Hospital and allied legal clinics led by ARCH Disability Law Centre, he helped to create the Health Justice Initiative. The Initiative carries out direct legal services to patients, legal education to health care providers and our patient population, and law reform activities. Nav was educated at the University of Toronto and the University of Oxford.

Light refreshments will be served.

WHEN:           Tuesday, 17 November 2015 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

WHERE:         Memorial Hall, Kingston City Hall - 216 Ontario Street Kingston, Ontario K7L 2Z3

 

Please RSVP by Thursday, November 12, 2015 to:

 

Rachel Evans, Office Manager

Online: kclcagm2015.eventbrite.ca

 

Phone:  613-541-0777,Ext. 22

 

Email:  evansr@lao.on.ca

If you require special accommodation (including accommodation for disabilities), please advise Rachel Evans at 613-541-0777 x. 22 or evansr@lao.on.ca by Thursday, November 12, 2015.

Sep 10, 2015

Deferral of the Employment Related Benefit

 

See the full bulletin at:  www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/news/releases/2015/20150909.aspx

Sep 01, 2015

E-Filing Now Available at LTB & Small Claims Court

LEARN LAW

 E-Filing Now Available at Landlord and Tenant Board and Small Claims Court

 

 

Ontario Courts and tribunals are now providing some online filing of claims and applications.

If you have internet access, you may be able to file and pay fees from your computer and not have to go to a courthouse or Government Information Centre (GIC).

 

Small Claims Court

In the Ontario Small Claims Court, you can file a claim electronically if you are suing a person or business for a fixed amount of money (e.g. a debt owed to you under a contract) and the amount is $25,000 or less.  It’s a simple, convenient way to file a claim in Ontario Small Claims Court without ever setting foot in a courthouse.

 

Using this service you can prepare and submit all required forms, pay fees and receive all the official court documents you need to file a fixed claim. Then, if the person you are suing does not dispute the claim, you may apply for and receive a court decision. 

 

For more details see the Small Claims Court E-Filing Service User Guide

www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/courts/scc/e-filing/small_claims_e-filing_user_guide.pdf

 

Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB)

 

The Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) is now accepting electronic filing of select landlord and tenant applications.  Four applications are currently available for e-filing.

The two applications that tenants can file online are:

  • T2: Application about Tenant Rights, and 
  • T6: Tenant Application about Maintenance.

 The two applications that landlords can file online are:

  • L1: Application to Evict a Tenant for Non-payment of Rent and to Collect Rent the Tenant Owes, and 
  • L2: Application to End a Tenancy and Evict a Tenant.

 The e-file tool is a user-friendly alternative to paper applications, which are still accepted by the LTB via fax, mail, or hand-delivery to an LTB office or select GICs.

Fee Waiver

A fee waiver is available if you are a low-income person who wants to file a court or Landlord and Tenant Board claim.  Generally a fee waiver will be granted if you are on some kind of social assistance or low, fixed income.  Sometimes you have to provide an affidavit to support your application for fee waiver.

Unfortunately, a fee waiver cannot be requested online, so those with limited resources still have to go to a courthouse or GIC to access services.

 General free legal information is also available at:  Your legal rights – http://yourlegalrights.on.ca  

 

______________________________________________

 

Article adapted from Social Justice Tribunals News – August 12 (www.sjto.gov.on.ca/en/latest-news/#ltb) and Suing in Small Claims Court (www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/courts/scc/#filing)

 

 

This column, written by staff or volunteer lawyers with the Community Advocacy & Legal Centre (CALC), provides general legal information only about current laws. If you need legal advice you should contact a lawyer. If you are living on a low income you may be eligible for free legal help. Contact your local community legal clinic if you need help with income programs, workers’ or tenants’ rights, consumer problems, or human rights. Call Kingston Community Legal Clinic at 613-541-0777 or visit www.kclc.ca.  If have a criminal, family or immigration law problem, contact Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 or visit www.legalaid.on.ca.

 

 

 

Jul 31, 2015

Can A Landlord Legally Take A Tenant's Belongings?

 

Can a Landlord legally take a tenant’s belongings

Has your landlord threatened to take or throw out your belongings? This article will help explain when it is legal for your landlord to take your things according to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). The RTA is the law that applies to most rental housing in Ontario. The RTA may not apply if you share a kitchen or bathroom with the owner or rent from another tenant.

It is illegal for your landlord to take your things because you did not pay rent or because you caused damage to your rental unit. Your landlord cannot stop you from taking your belongings with you when you move out.   

However, your landlord may take or throw out your things if you leave them behind when you move out.

 

If you move out after giving notice to your landlord or agreeing to move out:

You have until the last day of your tenancy to move all your belongings. This is the last day you occupy the unit at the end of a lease or at the end of giving 60 days notice. If belongings are left behind after this day, the landlord may take or throw them out right away. If you want to prevent your landlord from throwing out your things, you should ask them to agree in writing. If you need more information on how to give notice, see the resources below.

 

 

 

 

If you move out without giving notice to your landlord:

Your landlord must give you written notice that they plan to get rid of your things if you have abandoned your rental unit. Your landlord has to wait 30 days after giving you this notice to sell or take your belongings. Your landlord can leave this notice at your place – it is not mandatory to personally give it to you or call you. Your landlord must let you collect your belongings at a reasonable time if you contact them within this 30 day period. Your landlord does not have to leave your belongings in the rental unit during this 30 day period. Your landlord can ask you to pay the cost of moving and storing your belongings.

You have 72 hours to collect your belongings when you are evicted by the Sheriff. Your landlord must keep your things safe during this time. Your landlord must let you get them between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. during this 72-hour period. Your landlord can either keep your things in your place or move them to a safe place nearby.

If your landlord has taken your things or has broken the law, you should get legal advice. If you are living on a low income and have questions about this or other housing issues, you can get free legal advice by calling the Community Advocacy & Legal Centre at 613-966-8686 ext 0 or 1-877-966-8686 ext 0.  

Article adapted from Community Legal Education Ontario’s May 2015 Issue of “On the Radar: When can a landlord legally take a tenant’s belongings?”: www.cleo.on.ca/en/whats-new

General free legal information is also available at:

 

 

LEARN LAW

Shoplifting Demand Letters

If you or your child have been caught shoplifting, you may get a letter demanding that you pay the store money. This letter, which may come from the store or a lawyer, may ask you pay between $300 and $800 to cover the cost of trying to catch shoplifters. The letter may warn that you will be taken to court if you do not pay. In most cases the stolen items have already been returned, so the store has not suffered any losses. The person who shoplifted may also have been charged with a criminal offence.

If you get one of these letters, you are not legally required to pay. To force you to pay, the store must bring a lawsuit against you and prove their claims in court. It is rare that the store choses to do so when the amounts claimed are relatively low. If the store does bring a lawsuit against you, what happens in court will depend on the facts of the case.

In Ontario, you can be legally required to compensate someone for trespassing on their property. In one case (Hudson’s Bay Company v. White), the court ordered a person to pay for trespassing and punitive damages in the amount of $500. However, the person who was ordered to pay that amount never defended the claim and was not charged by the police. If you are charged by the police, the court may order that you pay less money and may not order punitive damages.

Letters from Collection Agencies are different than letters from a store or a lawyer. Collection Agencies can affect your credit rating if you do not pay the amount claimed. However, you are not legally required to pay the amount claimed until it has been proven in court.

If you receive a demand letter from a Collection Agency, you should respond immediately. Send a letter by registered mail to the Collection Agency and state that you dispute the amount claimed. Keep a copy of the letter.

Once you have done this, the Collection Agency should stop contacting you. The store will then decide whether to bring a lawsuit against you.

You should order a copy of your credit report to make sure that your credit has not been affected. You can also make a complaint to the Ministry of Consumer Services. You can find a tip sheet on dealing with Collection Agencies on our website: www.communitylegalcentre.ca/legal_information/Tips/Consumer/CollectionAgenciesTipSheet.pdf.

If you receive a Statement of Claim or a Plaintiff’s claim, get legal advice immediately. These are legal documents that start a law suit. To dispute the amount claimed, you will need to file a Statement of Defence. You do not have much time to file this, so you must act quickly.

If you are under the age of 18, the information above still applies to you. If your child has been caught shoplifting, a demand letter may be addressed to you. The store would have to show that you as a parent were negligent in some way to be successful in claiming money against you in court. In one case in Manitoba (D.C.B v. Zellers Inc.), the court ordered Zellers to pay back money that a parent paid to them in response to a demand letter. The court said that the parent was not required to pay the money, so the store could not keep it. This type of case has not come up in Ontario yet.

More information can be found at:

 

A copy to print, can be found here.

 

Adapted from Justice for Children and Youth:

http://jfcy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/ShopliftingDemandLettersApril-20121.pdf

 

http://www.kclc.ca/uploadDocs/Shoplifting%20Demand%20Letters.pdf

May 18, 2015

When can a landlord legally take a tenant's belong

 

For more information, please read On the Radar, produced by Community Legal Education Ontario.

Apr 27, 2015

Budget 2015

 

For more information, check out the Income Security Advocacy Centre's response to the budget.

Apr 16, 2015

How to improve the delivery of front line services

 

Community legal clinics across Central and Eastern Ontario have come together to consider how to improve the delivery of front-line services. The East and Central Region Transformation Project is about creating new ways to provide access to justice for the poorest residents of East and Central Ontario.  For more information on the project please visit www.ecrtp.ca.

 

As part of this project, Kingston Community Legal Clinic is seeking feedback from current and former clients.  Please take a few minutes to complete the online survey before Thursday, April 30, 2015.  To fill out a paper copy of the survey, please drop by the Legal Clinic regular during office hours.

Apr 07, 2015

Income and Health Benefits for Seniors

 

For more information about the income support and health benefits available to seniors, read this.

 

 

Mar 26, 2015

Ontario Introduces a new program

Ontario has announced that it will be introducing a program to assist low-income families with the cost of electricity as of 1 January 2016.

Under the proposed Ontario Electricity Support Program, qualifying individuals could be eligible for a $20 to $50 monthly credit that would be applied directly to their hydro bills, based on the size of the household and income.

The province will also be removing the Debt Retirement Charge for all residential consumers.

See news release.

Mar 20, 2015

The Rights of Children & Youth Workshop

For more information about this session, please see the flyer.

 

Mar 16, 2015

It's Nearly Tax Time

 

It is nearly tax time.  Individuals and families with low income should file their taxes as soon as possible.  Use this calculator to find out what credits and benefits you may be eligible for. 

If you need assistance completing your taxes, The Community Volunteer Tax Program hosts tax preparation clinics

 

Mar 11, 2015

Co-op Eviction Proceedings

 

Since June 1, 2014 eviction proceedings commenced by non-profit housing co-operatives (co-ops) will be held before the Landlord and Tenant Board. Kingston Community Legal Clinic represents tenants and co-op members in eviction proceedings. 

Eviction proceedings from co-ops have several distinct features from regular eviction proceedings that service providers should be aware of in order to refer clients to the legal clinic in a timely fashion:

1.      Co-ops hold an in-house eviction proceeding prior to the eviction proceeding before the Landlord and Tenant Board. Service providers that are aware of an upcoming co-op Board meeting to terminate a co-op member's membership and occupancy rights should refer the co-op member to the legal clinic.

2. A co-op Board can only serve a "notice of termination" on a co-op member only after it has terminated the member's membership and occupancy rights in its in-house eviction proceeding. Unlike the landlord and tenant relationship, which allows landlords to serve notices of termination when they believe there are grounds for eviction, a co-op Board can only serve a notice of termination after it has already terminated the member's membership and occupancy rights in its internal process established by the Co-operative Corporations Act. There are various forms of notices of termination which a co-op Board can serve on a co-op member, each containing different implications for the co-op member. Services providers should refer their clients to the legal clinic once they have received a notice of termination.

3. Once the co-op has filed an application for termination of membership and occupancy rights, the co-op member must complete and file a response which addresses all allegations in the application. This is the most significant difference between a co-op eviction and a regular eviction process. The response is to be filed with the Landlord and Tenant Board and served on the co-op no later than the date specified in the Notice of Hearing. The implications for failing to file a response are severe: the Landlord and Tenant Board can deem the co-op member to accept all of the facts and allegations in the co-op's application. The legal clinic will assist co-op membership prepare and file their response. Co-op members should not undertake to file a response on their own without legal advice.

4. Co-op eviction proceedings are scheduled for two hearings, unlike regular landlord and tenant eviction applications which are only scheduled for one hearing. The first hearing, which is called the Case Management Hearing, is similar to a mediation process in that it allows the parties to settle some or all the issues in dispute. The Landlord and Tenant Board can deem a co-op member to have accepted all facts and allegation in the eviction application and the hearing may proceed without them if they fail to attend the Case Management Hearing. The second hearing is called the Merits Hearing, which a contested adjudication process.


The legal clinic expects a slight increase in the number of eviction proceedings from co-ops because prior to June 1, 2014 co-ops had to seek an eviction from the Superior Court of Justice, which was a lengthier and more costly process.

Service providers should also be aware that the Landlord and Tenant Board does not have the jurisdiction to hear applications by co-op members.

If you have any questions about the co-op eviction process or to refer a client please contact Kingston Community Legal Clinic at 613-541-0777

Written by John Helis, Staff Lawyer.


For a printable verision of this article, please go to our resources page.

 

Mar 09, 2015

LTB Launches New Forms April 1, 2015

 

The Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) will be updating its forms effective April 1, 2015.  You can preview these forms on the LTB's website, but remember do not use them until April 1, 2015.

Feb 10, 2015

Changes to ODSP employment benefits are delayed


According to a news release, the government is postponing these changes because some of the details still need to be finalized, and because of complications resulting from the transition to SAMS.
The current suite of employment-related benefits, including the ODSP Work-Related Benefit, will continue to be available until the new Employment-Related Benefit is implemented.
See full news release.
 

Feb 10, 2015

A recent decision about overpayments

 

Read ISAC's fact sheet for more information.


La version française est disponible ici.

Feb 06, 2015

Are You Representing Yourself in Family Court?

For more information, check out the information sheet.

Feb 04, 2015

Changes to ODSP employment benefits are coming

Effective April 2015, three employment benefits that are being elimimated are:

Employment Training and Start-Up Benefits – provides us to $500 to help with expenses when starting a training program, new job or employment-related activities

Employment Transition Benefit – provides lump-sum payment of $500 to anyone making the transition to work

Work Related Benefit – provides $100 per month to anyone with any income from work, training or self-employment.

The new Employment-Related Benefit (ERB) will be a discretionary benefit that is not intended to provide support to people who are already working, unless those supports will help people advance their career.  It will focus on providing support to people who are preparing to return to the workforce.

A person with a disability who receives ODSP will be eligible for a maximum of $1800 each 12-month period.  Non-disabled adult family members will be eligible for the maximum of $1,200 per 12-month period.   There will be some flexibility in these maximum amounts so that people who have higher employment-related expenses may be able to receive more funding.

An employment plan will need to be developed with an employment service agency and eligiblity for funding will depend on how the funds relate to the plan.  The person will work with an employment counsellor to identify the supports or training they require to get a job and what those supports will cost.  The employment counsellor will make a recommendation to her ODSP caseworker about funding these expenses from the ERB.  The caseworker will make the final decision.

The current benefits end March 31, 2015 and the ERB will start on April 1, 2015.  Non-disabled family members of people with disabilities on ODSP who have been receiving the $100 Work-Related Benefit will immediately lose that benefit.

People with disabilities who are receiving the Work-Related Benefit will not lose the benefit in April.  A transition period will apply until September 30, 2015.  During that time, if they have employment income, they will continue to receive the $100 work-related benefit, but only if they have continuous monthly employment income. 

The full amount of any Work-Related Benefit that a person receives from April 1 and September 30, 2015 will count toward their ERB eligibility.

This benefit will be a discretionary benefit.  This means that people will not be able to appeal negative decisions to the Social Benefits Tribunal.

The foregoing is a modification of an article appearing on the Income Security and Advocacy Centre’s website.  While acknowledging that the primary material is ISAC’s, I take responsibility for all opinions expressed herein.

 

This column, written by Kimberly Lonsdale, Licensed Paralegal with the Kingston Community Legal Clinic, provides general legal information only. If you need legal advice you should contact a lawyer or licensed paralegal. If you are living on a low income you may be eligible for free legal help. Contact your local community legal clinic if you need help with income programs, workers’ or tenants’ rights, consumer problems, or human rights.  If you have a criminal, family or immigration law problem, contact Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 or visit www.legalaid.on.ca.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 17, 2014

Sexual Harassment at Work

For more information about sexual harassment at work, read this article.

Dec 16, 2014

More people on ODSP facing medical reviews

Read this month's On the Radar.

If you have received a letter from the Disability Adjudication Unit saying that it is conducting a medical review, please contact us at 613-541-077 or to find the nearest legal clinic, visit the Legal Aid Ontario website.

 

 


 

Nov 12, 2014

KCLC Annual General Meeting 2014

 

The Board & Staff of Kingston Community Legal Clinic invite you to our Annual General Meeting.  Guest speaker Ross Finnie, Director of Education Policy Research Initiate, University of of Ottawa will discuss "Helping Children Overcome Barriers to Higher Education."

Light refreshments and will be served.

Please RSVP at Eventbrite by Friday, November 21, 2014.

If you require special accommodation (including accommodation for disabilities), please advise Rachel Evans at 613-541-0777 x. 22 or evansr@lao.on.ca by Friday, November 21, 2014.

 

 

Nov 04, 2014

Disability Tax Credit Consultations

Harper Government launches consultations on the Disability Tax Credit and aims to establish maximum promoters’ fees

 

Engagement results will help the CRA to simplify the DTC application process and ensure persons with disabilities are protected from excessive fees

November 4, 2014 - Ottawa, Ontario - Canada Revenue Agency

The Honourable Kerry-Lynne Findlay, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of National Revenue, today announced upcoming consultations to support the Disability Tax Credit Promoters Restrictions Act, a private members bill initiated by Cheryl Gallant, Member of Parliament for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke. The Act limits fees that can be charged for helping to complete a disability tax credit request, and ensures that more money remains with persons with disabilities and their caregivers.

The consultations will provide Canadians with disabilities, their caregivers, promoters, tax professionals, qualified practitioners and members from the general public with an opportunity to provide feedback on how the CRA can both simplify and clarify the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) application process. This feedback will also help our Government develop regulations under the Act that establish the maximum fee that can be charged or accepted from a client for completing a disability tax credit application and claiming the disability amount.

In addition to the in-person consultations, Canadians may also provide feedback through an online consultation tool, available now.

Anyone wishing to register to participate for an in-person consultation or to submit feedback online can do so by going to www.cra.gc.ca/dtcconsultations.

Quick facts

  • Starting this month the CRA will begin both in-person and online consultations with Canadians surrounding the disability tax credit.
  • Consultations will be held in four cities: Vancouver, Toronto, Montréal and Halifax. Feedback is also being accepted online here.
  • According to CRA data, approximately 1.1 million taxpayers are currently eligible for the DTC, and approximately 50% of them are seniors.
  • For the 2012-2013 fiscal year, approximately 620,000 individuals claimed the DTC on their Income Tax and Benefit Return, for a total amount of $986 million.

 

Quotes

“Through these important consultations, we want to hear from persons with disabilities, tax preparers, qualified practitioners and Canadians in general. We want input on how the provisions of the Disability Tax Credit Promoters Restrictions Act can be effectively implemented, how we can simplify the disability tax credit process to better meet the needs of persons with disabilities and those who care for them. We must ensure that people with disabilities are not paying excessive fees for help in completing a DTC request.”

- The Honourable Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of National Revenue

“Our government strives to simplify processes to better serve taxpayers and works to ensure that legislation, programs, and services take into account the rights and interests of all Canadians. Starting today, we are seeking public input on simplification of the disability tax credit process to ensure that more money stays in the pockets of persons with disabilities and their caregivers who need it most.”

- The Honourable Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of National Revenue

“Our Government is committed to working with the community to ensure persons with disabilities and their supporting family members are well-served by the federal services intended to support them. I am proud to see the Disability Tax Credit Promoters Restrictions Act being implemented to protect citizens from excessive fees.”

- Cheryl Gallant, Member of Parliament for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke

 

 

 

Associated Links

Oct 31, 2014

Legal Aid Financial Eligiblity Rates Increase

Ontario is moving forward with a plan that will allow over one million more people to qualify for legal aid services.

Ontario will raise the income level -- also known as the eligibility threshold -- at which people can qualify for legal aid assistance. Once fully implemented, an additional one million low-income people will have access to legal aid services -- more than double the number of people eligible for legal aid services today.

The 2014 budget includes an initial investment of $95.7 million to increase the eligibility threshold by six per cent for the first three years of the plan. The first increase will take place on Nov. 1, 2014.

Enhancing access to legal services is part of the government's economic plan for Ontario. The four-part plan is building Ontario up by investing in people's talents and skills, building new public infrastructure like roads and transit, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives, and building a secure savings plan so everyone can afford to retire.

LEARN MORE

 

Oct 22, 2014

2014 Rent Increase

Oct 09, 2014

Increases for OW and ODSP rates Fall2 014

The 2014 Ontario Budget provided for increases to OW and ODSP rates, which start September 30 for ODSP and October 1 for OW.  The Income Security Advocacy Centre's  latest rates sheet outlines the new Basic Needs and Maximum Shelter rates, the latest Ontario Child Benefit amounts, and increases to other benefits. Download the rates sheet in English and French below:

Aug 14, 2014

Lost your Job? Entitled to pay or notice?

For more information, read this article.

Jul 10, 2014

Collection Agencies: What You Should Know

Collection Agencies ("Agencies") are businesses hired to collect debts.

Does the Collection Agency have to follow any rules when contacting me?

Yes. There are rules in the Collection Agencies Act. Some of these rules are:

  • Agencies must send you a letter explaining the debt they are collecting
  • After first speaking with you, Agencies can only contact you about the same debt 3 more times in a 7 day period
  • They may send you mail in addition to the 3 contacts
  • Contact must be during certain hours:  Monday to Saturday between 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. or on Sunday between 1 p.m. - 5 p.m., and not on public holidays
  • Agencies cannot use "threatening, profane, intimidating or coercive language"

 Agencies may contact:

  • Anyone, if you consent
  • Another person to locate you
  • Any person who has guaranteed your debt
  • Your employer to confirm employment information or with your written consent
  • Your employer about a wage assignment arising from a court decision

What if the Collection Agency is breaking the rules?

You can write a complaint to the Agency. Send a registered letter to the Agency and keep a copy. If the problem continues, you may file a complaint with the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services https://www.ontario.ca/consumers/filing-consumer-complaint

What if I agree with the debt the Collection agency says I owe?

You can arrange to repay the debt. If you cannot repay the debt right away, explain your situation to the Agency and try to negotiate a repayment plan. If you reach an agreement, send a letter to the Agency confirming this. Keep a copy. Only repay a debt to the Agency in a way that gives proof of payment.  Never give personal information to the Agency (e.g. bank account information).

What if I disagree with the debt the collection agency says I owe?

Explain that you disagree with the debt to the Agency. Send a registered letter to the Agency stating you disagree with the debt, the reasons why you disagree and that you want the matter to go to court. The Agency must stop contacting you after you have given this notice.

Can I be sued?

An unpaid debt can end up in court.  If your creditor (the person to whom you owe money) wins at court, the court will issue an order. An order from the court allows your creditor to take action to seize your assets or garnish your wages.  Social Assistance payments (for example, Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program) cannot be garnished.

Where can I get help if I have too much debt or credit problems?

Contact your local not-for-profit credit counselling agency for assistance with your finances and debt issues.  K3C Credit Counselling provides assistance throughout Frontenac County.  See http://www.k3ccreditcounselling.org/ for more information.

  • Kingston Office       417 Bagot Street, Kingston, ON         613-549-7850 or 1-800-379-5556

 

More information can be found at:

 


 

 


 

This column provides general legal information and not legal advice. It was drafted by staff lawyers from community legal clinics, or Legal Aid Ontario, and volunteer local lawyers. The law can change. You should contact a lawyer to determine your legal rights and obligations. If you are living on a low income, you may be eligible for free legal help from LAO (criminal, family or immigration) or your clinic (income security programs, employment law, tenants' rights, consumer law, education law or human rights). You can reach LAO at 1-800-668-8258 or visit them online at www.legalaid.on.ca. Contact your local clinic (Kingston Community Legal Clinic) at 613-541-0777 for more information or visit www.kclc.ca

Jul 03, 2014

Moving Out of Your Rental Unit

Moving out of your rental unit:

what you should know

Are you a tenant, and thinking of moving?  This article will look at some things it is important to know before you move.

Do I have to give notice?

Yes. You must give 60 days written notice to end your tenancy. In most cases notice will be given for the last day of the month. For example, if you want to move out on December 31, you should give notice on or before November 1 to move out on December 31.

You must give 60 days written notice whether you are a month-to-month tenant or if you decide to leave at the end of the written lease period.

You can use an N9 form to give notice:

http://www.ltb.gov.on.ca/stdprodconsume/groups/csc/_ltb/_forms/documents/form/stel02_111572.pdf

Keep a copy.

 

What if I can't give 60 days written notice or I want to go before my lease is up?

If you are a month-to-month tenant and do not give 60 days written notice you may end up owing rent money even after you move out. If you have a lease, you are responsible for the rent until the lease ends. "Lease breaking" can be difficult and expensive for you.

If you cannot give 60 days written notice or want to move out before your lease is up, you should ask your landlord if they will agree to let you end your tenancy early. If there is an agreement, you should get it in writing. You can use an N11form:

http://www.ltb.gov.on.ca/stdprodconsume/groups/csc/_ltb/_forms/documents/form/stel02_111574.pdf

You and your landlord both need to sign this form. Keep a copy. An agreement in writing may help you to avoid owing rent money after you move out.

If your landlord does not agree to end your tenancy early, you should call your local community legal clinic for more information on your options.

My landlord gave me a list of things I need to clean before I move out. They say they will charge me if I don't do what they've asked. Can they do this?

A tenant must keep their rental unit clean up to the standard that most people would consider ordinary or normal cleanliness. If you are worried about being charged it may be a good idea to take pictures of your apartment before you move out.

After you move, you could get a bill if your landlord decides the rental unit was not properly cleaned. They could send the bill to a Collections Agency or sue you in Small Claims court. If you disagree with the bill, you should call your local community legal clinic for more information.

Low-income tenants in the City of Kingston, Township of South Frontenac and Township of Frontenac Islands can get free legal advice about housing problems or a threatened eviction by calling the Kingston Community Legal Clinic at  613-541-0777, Ext. 0.

General free legal information for tenants is also available at:

·                 Community Legal Education Ontario - http://yourlegalrights.on.ca/legal-topic/housing-law?gclid=CN_Hh-eRqb8CFQypaQodDJ4AHw

·                 Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario - http://www.acto.ca/en/tenant-info/tenant-tip-sheets.html

·                 Kingston Community Legal Clinic  http://kclc.ca/legal_housing.cfm

 Free legal information for landlords is available at the Landlord's Self-Help Centre. You can access this information online at http://www.landlordselfhelp.com.

 

This column provides general legal information and not legal advice. It was written by staff lawyers from community legal clinics, or Legal Aid Ontario, and volunteer local lawyers. The law can change. You should contact a lawyer to determine your legal rights and obligations. If you are living on a low income, you may be eligible for free legal help from LAO (criminal, family or immigration) or your clinic (income security programs, employment law, tenants' rights, consumer law, or human rights). You can reach LAO at 1-800-668-8258 or visit them online at http://wwwlegalaid.on.ca. Contact your local clinic (Kingston Community Legal Clinic) at 613-541-0777 for more information or visit http://www.kclc.ca.

Jul 03, 2014

More Support on the Way for Ontario Families

More Support on the Way for Ontario Families

Ontario Child Benefit to Increase in July

June 30, 2014 11:00 a.m.

 

Beginning July 2014, hundreds of thousands of Ontario families will receive another increase of up to $100 per child annually to their Ontario Child Benefit (OCB) payment.

As a result of the 2013 and 2014 increases, an estimated 90,000 additional children in 46,000 more families are eligible for the OCB for the first time. With these increases, the benefit has more than doubled since 2008.

As part of Budget 2014, if passed, the province is proposing to tie the OCB to inflation starting July 2015, to help eligible families keep pace with the costs of raising children.

Increasing the OCB is part of Ontario's plan to break down barriers for low-income Ontarians and reduce poverty. Helping families raise healthy children also supports the government's economic plan that is creating jobs for today and tomorrow by focusing on Ontario's greatest strengths -- its people.

 

QUOTES

" The Ontario Child Benefit is making a big difference for many families who struggle to make ends meet. This latest increase is just one of the ways our government is helping to break the cycle of poverty."
- Tracy MacCharles
Minister of Children and Youth Services

 

QUICK FACTS

  • Families with an annual net income of $20,000 or less receive the full OCB for each child under the age of 18. Families earning more may be eligible for partial benefits based on their income and the number of children they have under the age of 18.
  • The OCB was introduced in 2007. Monthly OCB payments began in July 2008 with a maximum annual benefit payment of $600 per child per year.
  • By increasing the maximum Ontario Child Benefit to $1310 in July 2014 and indexing it to inflation beginning July 2015, the government is proposing to invest $160 million more for eligible families across Ontario.

 

LEARN MORE

Jan 26, 2014

My child has been suspended. What can I do?

My child has been suspended. What can I do?

 Abner, 16, and James, 17, attend Limestone High. Abner emigrated from Cuba just three years ago. He is black and speaks with a Hispanic accent. Last Friday, after school, James became upset when he saw Abner speaking alone to his girlfriend. James called Abner a racist word. This enraged Abner, who then punched James in the mouth. A teacher was able to quickly stop the fight. James’ mouth was bleeding and Abner was not injured.
 
James and Abner’s fight happened on school property. What kind of consequences could the boys face at school?
 
Some of the most serious consequences a student can face at school are suspensions and expulsions. If a student is suspended, he or she may not attend school during the suspension period, which can last up to 20 days. A suspension is also recorded in their Ontario Student Record. Even if the student transfers schools, the new school may know what happened because it is on his or her Ontario Student Record.
 
The principal will consider suspending Abner because he punched James. This is a situation where a suspension is possible, but not required. The law requires principals to suspend students in certain situations that happen at school or school-related activities; for example, when they physically hurt another person so that the other person needs medical attention.  When deciding whether to suspend Abner, the principal will have to consider “mitigating circumstances.” These are reasons that the principal might use to choose to not suspend Abner even though he did punch James. Mitigating circumstances include James’s racist remark and whether Abner’s attendance at school would pose a risk to James’ or anyone else’s safety. The school must act fairly towards Abner. The school must tell Abner why he is being suspended and give him a chance to tell his side of the story. Since Abner is 16 and lives with his parents, the school must contact his parents to tell them about the suspension. The school must inform Abner and his parents of the suspension in writing. The school must also provide information about the right to appeal his suspension.
 
If Abner is suspended, his parents can appeal the suspension by sending a notice of their intent to appeal to the supervisory officer (usually a Superintendent). They must do this within 10 school days of the start of the suspension. A suspension appeal hearing must be held within 15 days after the supervisory officer receives the written notice.
 
At the hearing, school board trustees will listen to evidence from both the principal and Abner. It is best for Abner and his parents to have a lawyer, who can challenge the school and present Abner’s side of the story. The trustees will decide whether to uphold, change, or overturn the suspension. Even if the suspension ended before the appeal was held, it is still important to get the trustees’ decision because the suspension will be removed from Abner’s Ontario Student Record if the trustees overturn the suspension.
 
 
 
 
This column provides general legal information and not legal advice. The information above comes from a blog by Justice for Children and Youth (JFCY), a specialty legal clinic. While acknowledging that the primary material is JFCY’s, we take responsibility for all opinions expressed herein. It was drafted by staff lawyers from community legal clinics, or Legal Aid Ontario, and volunteer local lawyers. The law can change. You should contact a lawyer to determine your legal rights and obligations. If you are living on a low income, you may be eligible for free legal help from LAO (criminal, family or immigration) or your clinic (income security programs, employment law, tenants’ rights, consumer law, education law or human rights). You can reach LAO at 1-800-668-8258 or visit them online at www.legalaid.on.ca or contact your local legal clinic (Kingston Community Legal Clinic) 613-541-0777for more information

Aug 09, 2013

Law Talk: July 2013

Law Talk

July, 2013

We’ve Never Met: Agreements by Telephone and Mail

A lawn care company calls and asks if you want to buy a summer package of lawn cutting and weeding. Or, you fill out a subscription card to have a magazine sent to your home. It is possible to form a contract with someone that you have never met in person, even if you did not sign anything. This article will explain how such “remote agreements” are regulated by law.  

What is a Remote Agreement?

When an agreement is made between a buyer and a seller who are not physically together in the same place it is called a “remote agreement”. The Consumer Protection Act, 2002 (CPA) protects remote agreements for goods or services worth $50 or more if at least one of the parties is in Ontario when the agreement is made. The following rules apply to remote telephone or mail agreements, but not internet agreements (which have special rules under the CPA).

What Information Must a Seller Provide Before the Agreement is Made?

The seller must give you certain information, orally or in writing, before you enter into the remote agreement. The seller can refer you to an existing resource like a website or a pamphlet to find this information. Required information includes the name, telephone number, and contact address of the seller. The seller must also provide an accurate description of what is being sold, a breakdown of all prices including taxes and shipping, and the seller’s best estimate of any other charges (such as taxes or customs charges). You must have the chance to accept or decline these terms, and correct any errors, before entering into the agreement.

What Information Must a Seller Provide After the Agreement is Made?

The seller must give you a copy of the complete agreement in a way that you can save, print or copy it. This can be done by e-mail, fax, mail, or hand delivery. This copy must include everything that was provided or should have been provided before the agreement. It must also include the seller’s phone number, fax number, address and e-mail address, the name of the buyer, and the date of the agreement. The copy must be delivered at the earlier of these two days: either within 60 days after the agreement is formed, or within 30 days after the good or service is provided by the seller.

What Are My Rights If The Seller Doesn’t Give Me This Information?

When a seller has not given you the required information before the contract is made, you may cancel the agreement up to 7 days after receiving a copy of the complete agreement. If the copy of the agreement is not delivered on time, or it is missing required information, you may cancel the agreement within one year of entering into it.  If you cancel the agreement, you must do so in writing and should keep a copy. You must return any property to the seller within 15 days of the cancellation, and the seller must return any funds you paid within 15 days of the cancellation date.

For further information, please visit the Ministry of Consumer Services website at http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/default.aspx or call 1-800-889-9768. In addition, you can find more information about consumer protection topics at any time in a series of Community Law School webinars archived online at www.yourlegalrights.on.ca/training-topic/consumer-law. Be empowered, and stay tuned.

This column is brought to you by Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc., and Community Legal Services and Pro Bono Students Canada at Western University, with financial assistance from the Law Foundation of Ontario. It provides legal information only.  The information is accurate as of the date of publication. Laws change frequently so we caution readers from relying on this information if some time has passed since publication. If you need specific legal advice please contact a lawyer, your community legal clinic, Justice Net at 1-866-919-3219 or the Law Society Referral Service at 1-800-268-8326.

 

Jun 27, 2013

Law Talk: June, 2013

 Law Talk
June, 2013
Before You Ride Off Into the Sunset

Did you know that Ontario residents purchase 1.4 million vehicles a year? Almost everyone buys a vehicle at least once, so it is important to know your rights before making this expensive decision. 

How are Motor Vehicle Sales Regulated?

Ontario’s Motor Vehicle Dealers Act (MVDA) applies to sales of new and used vehicles (automobiles, trucks, and motorcycles) by anyone who is in the trade of selling motor vehicles. Dealers must register with the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC), the regulator of Ontario’s motor vehicle sales industry. Buyers need to know that the MVDA does not apply to private sales, that is, buying from someone who is not a registered motor vehicle dealer (often called “curbsiders”). Buyers need to be especially cautious about buying from curbsiders because they will not have the protections of the MVDA. You can look for the yellow-and-blue OMVIC decal on a dealer’s door or window, or check online at www.omvic.on.ca to see if a dealer is registered.

What Disclosures does the MVDA Require?

Under the MVDA, dealers must disclose specific information about the motor vehicle. Required disclosures include information about: the vehicle’s mileage and odometer functioning; whether the vehicle was ever leased daily, or used as a police, emergency services, or taxi vehicle; the extent of any damage suffered by the vehicle, and specifically if it suffered more than $3,000 damage in a single accident; if the antilock brakes and airbags are working properly; the vehicle’s make, model, and model year; whether it was ever declared a total loss by an insurer; and any other fact about the structural or performance quality that would have an influence on your decision whether or not to buy the vehicle. If you are not mechanically savvy yourself, it may be a good idea to have an independent mechanic do an inspection before making your decision.

What Must the Sale Contract Include?

The MVDA requires the sale contract to include information about: the buyer’s name and address, and the registered name, registration number, and business address of the dealer; the registered name and registration number of the salesperson; the dates of the sale and of the delivery of the vehicle, along with the vehicle’s colour, VIN, and body type; the total cost of the vehicle, any down payment made, and the balance due; any inducements the dealer agreed to provide at no charge; and any other charges (like taxes) that must be paid in connection with the purchase. 

What if You Change Your Mind?

You should be certain about your decision before signing a motor vehicle purchase agreement. In general, you cannot simply change your mind and cancel a signed purchase contract—there is no “cooling off” period for motor vehicle purchases. If certain information was not disclosed to you, you may have the right to cancel within 90 days of receiving the vehicle. This applies if you were not told: the total distance travelled (vehicle mileage); that it was once a daily rental, police, emergency services, taxi or limousine vehicle; the correct information about the make/model and year; or, that the vehicle was once branded as irreparable, salvage or rebuilt. You may also cancel the contract if you are the victim of an unfair practice as defined by the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 (CPA). This can be done up to one year after entering the contract by sending a letter to the dealership informing them of your intention to cancel the agreement. Sample cancellation letters are available on the Ministry of Consumer Services website.

What if You are Dissatisfied with the Purchase or the Vehicle?

If the dealer is still in business, your first step should be to try to resolve the matter directly with the dealer. Put your concerns in writing, send it to the dealer, and keep a copy for yourself. Have an independent mechanic inspect the vehicle, get a Used Vehicle Information Package from the Ministry of Transportation, and try to reach the previous owner(s) of the vehicle. If you still cannot resolve the matter with the dealer, you should contact OMVIC for assistance in filing and processing a complaint. As a last resort, you can also file suit in Small Claims Court if the amount of the dispute is less than $25,000. The Ministry of the Attorney General has Small Claims Court resource guides on its website at http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/courts/scc/default.asp.

Knowing your own rights and the obligations of dealers will help steer you towards your dream car. You are in the driver’s seat now.

For more information and to contact the Ministry of Consumer Services, call 1-800-889-9768 or visit their website at http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/pages/defaults.aspx OMVIC information can be found at www.omvic.on.ca. In addition, you can find more information about consumer protection topics at any time in a series of Community Law School webinars archived online at www.yourlegalrights.on.ca/training-topic/consumer-law. Be empowered, and stay tuned.

This column is brought to you by Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc., and Community Legal Services and Pro Bono Students Canada at Western University, with financial assistance from the Law Foundation of Canada. It provides legal information only. The information is accurate as of the date of publication. Laws change frequently so we caution readers from relying on this information if some time has passed since publication. If you need specific legal advice please contact a lawyer, your community legal clinic, Justice Net at 1-866-919-3219 or the Law Society Referral Service at 1-800-268-8326.

 

May 14, 2013

Law Talk: May, 2013

Law Talk

May, 2013

Watch Your Step on the Internet!

As almost anyone with an internet connection and an email address can attest, internet scams are distressingly common. Internet thieves, who may be located anywhere in the world, take millions of dollars a year from computer newcomers and experienced users alike. What are the most common types of problems facing internet users, and what protections are available to you?

 

Common Internet Frauds

One common internet problem is entering into deceptive consumer internet agreements. Under the Consumer Protection Act, 2002, vendors must disclose all charges and details contained within agreements to you. You should be able to access all information contained in an agreement, retain and print the information, and obtain a written copy of the agreement. If the vendor does not comply with these requirements, you may cancel the agreement within seven days after entering into it.

A second common problem is a fraudster pretending to be a trusted person or organization for the purpose of stealing personal information.  This is known as “phishing.” The most common form involves an email that purports to be from a legitimate retailer, bank, or other organization, that asks you to click on a link. Once the link is clicked you asked to enter login information, which is then sent directly to an illegitimate party. You should know that legitimate banks and organizations will never request personal information by email.

A third common deception is known as advanced fee fraud. Typically this will involve an email from Nigeria or West Africa, where the sender requests urgent upfront payment or banking information in return for a hefty sum of money to be delivered later. When this type of fraud occurs, the sender of the email will typically claim to need the use of your bank account on an urgent basis. If you provide the information, you will soon find yourself with an empty bank account.

 

Legal Protections Available

Primarily three pieces of legislation protect Canadian consumers online, and specifically outlaw many fraudulent activities that take place. First, the Competition Act governs most business conduct in Canada, containing both criminal and civil provisions aimed at preventing anti-competitive practices. It is administered by Competition Bureau Canada, which has the authority to investigate breaches of the Act and to impose hefty fines of up to $200,000, imprisonment for a term of up to one year, or both on the offending party.

 

Second, the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 covers internet agreements for goods or services of more than $50, where at least one of the parties is located in Ontario. The Ministry of Consumer Services is responsible for administering the Act, and individuals convicted under it can be liable for a fine of up to $50,000 or imprisoned for up to two years. Convicted corporations may be liable to a fine of up to $250,000. Violations of the Act should be reported to the Ministry so it can help mediate a solution or proceed with a prosecution.

Finally, law enforcement agencies protect online commerce under the Criminal Code. Scams are targeted by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, which handles complaints and educates the public. The Centre is coordinated by the OPP, the RCMP, and the Ministry of Consumer Services, as well as several other law enforcement agencies.

While law enforcement agencies have successfully shut down hundreds of online criminal organizations, the best approach remains preventing fraud before it happens. With a healthy amount of knowledge and caution, you can protect yourself from problems on the internet.

For more information we encourage you to contact the Ministry of Consumer Services at www.ontario.ca/mcs or toll free at 1-800-889-9768. To report an incident of fraud and for more information on recognizing, preventing and reporting incidents of fraud or identity theft, please visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website at http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/, or toll free at 1-888-495-8501. We also encourage you to visit Competition Bureau Canada at http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca. In addition, you can find more information about consumer protection topics at any time in a series of Community Law School webinars archived online at www.yourlegalrights.on.ca/training-topic/consumer-law. Be empowered, and stay tuned.

This column is brought to you by Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc., and Community Legal Services and Pro Bono Students Canada at Western University, with financial support from the Law Foundation of Ontario. It provides legal information only.  The information is accurate as of the date of publication. Laws change frequently so we caution readers from relying on this information if some time has passed since publication. If you need specific legal advice please contact a lawyer, your community legal clinic, Justice Net at 1-866-919-3219 or the Law Society Referral Service at 1-800-268-8326.

 

 

 

 

 

May 03, 2013

Budget 2013 Analysis

Read Budget 2013 Analysis: Moving Forward on Social Assistance Reform.

May 02, 2013

Home Assistance Program

Apr 24, 2013

Law Talk: April, 2013

Avoiding Telephone Trickery

It is probably safe to say that telephone fraud was not what Alexander Graham Bell had in mind when he pioneered the telephone in the 1870s. Unfortunately, modern-day telephone scammers defraud consumers out of millions of dollars annually. We hope that this article will help you to protect yourself from becoming the victim of a telephone scam.

How to Recognize Frauds and Scams

Some of the most common telephone schemes are phishing, telemarketing scams, prize schemes, 1-900 numbers, and “emergency grandchild” fraud. Phishing is when someone pretends to be a trusted person or organization in order to steal your personal information, usually for the purpose of identity theft. Phishing calls often pretend to be from your bank, a charitable organization, or government agency. The caller “needs” you to confirm personal information (such as your name, birth date, or SIN) that they will then use to steal your identity and empty your bank accounts. Always be on guard when you receive an unexpected call asking for personal information, as your bank or other institution will almost never call you for that information.

Be cautious also when you receive a call from a telemarketer trying to sell you a “great deal” or claiming to have important warranty information about something you already own. This is often a variation on phishing or an attempt to sell you shoddy merchandise, and any personal information you provide (such as credit card or bank account information) may be used to defraud you.

If you are asked to call a 1-900 number for some reason, remember that you are paying for the call at an average rate of $4.99 per minute. You will often get a voice response system which slows down the call and makes it hard to minimize the calling time. Don’t confuse 1-900 numbers with legitimate 1-800 (and 1-888, 1-877) toll free numbers.

You are probably the target of a prize scheme if you have hear a phrase like, “Congratulations, you’ve won a trip to Hawaii!” The company usually promises a valuable prize in return for a minor purchase or fee requiring a credit card number. The best thing to do when you receive this kind of call is to hang up, as you will likely never see the prize but will see large charges on your telephone bill and/or your credit card.

Be especially cautious if you get an unexpected call from your “grandchild” (or a close friend or other relative) claiming to be in some sort of trouble that requires you to wire funds or disclose bank account or credit card information in order to “rescue” them. This is an increasingly common fraud that almost invariably leads to the loss of your funds. 

 

Are You a Victim?

 

If you are a victim of any of these or other scams, there are steps that you should take immediately to address the problem and to try to minimize the damage. Notify your financial institution if your bank accounts or credit cards are involved, and notify government offices about any official documents that may be affected (e.g., Passport Canada, SIN, OHIP). Contact your local police department, as the scam may violate the Criminal Code. Reporting may also be important to show your financial institution that you really are an innocent victim, and in order to qualify for liability limits on your credit and debit accounts.

To avoid future telemarketing calls, register on the National Do Not Call List (https://www.lnnte-dncl.gc.ca/, 1-866-580-DNCL (3625). Registering is free, but you must re-register every three years. This will greatly reduce the number of unwanted calls that you receive, although certain parties (Canadian charities, political parties and newspapers, debt collectors, public service announcements, surveys, and businesses you have dealt with in the previous 6 months) will still be permitted to contact you. If a telemarketer convinced you to enter into an agreement for goods or services worth more than $50, you may have recourse under the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 (CPA) if the goods are substandard or the agreement doesn’t comply with the CPA.  Contact the Ministry of Consumer Services at http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/pages/defaults.aspx, or toll-free at 1-800-889-9768, for more information.

If you were caught in a prize scheme, in addition to your local police you should contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca, 1-888-495-8501), as well as the Competition Bureau (www.competitionbureau.gc.ca, 1-800-348-5358), and the Ministry of Consumer Services. The Competition Act prohibits telling you that you have won a prize but must pay money or incur a cost to collect it. These organizations can investigate the scheme, and warn others about the scam. These same organizations will investigate 1-900 scams, and “grandchild emergency” scams.

If you have lost money from your bank accounts or incurred charges on your credit cards, contact your bank and explain what happened. They may be willing to reimburse your account, especially if you have also filed a complaint with your local police and with the organizations listed above. Similarly, if you have 1-900 charges as a result of a scam, your telephone company may be willing to reduce those charges if you contact it and explain what happened.

You can find more information about consumer protection topics at any time in a series of Community Law School webinars archived online at www.yourlegalrights.on.ca/training-topic/consumer-law. Be empowered, and stay tuned.

 

This column is brought to you by Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc., and Community Legal Services and Pro Bono Students Canada at Western University, with funding support from the Law Foundation of Ontario. It provides legal information only.  The information is accurate as of the date of publication. Laws change frequently so we caution readers from relying on this information if some time has passed since publication. If you need specific legal advice please contact a lawyer, your community legal clinic, Justice Net at 1-866-919-3219 or the Law Society Referral Service at 1-800-268-8326.

Apr 23, 2013

Changes to Social Assistance

Changes to social assistance will make it worse.

Please read attached flyer.

Reject the Commission's recommendation to combine ODSP and OW. 

Show your support in maintaining ODSP as a provincially-delivered program by contacting  you M.P.P.

In Kingston and the Islands, contact John Gerretsen, 613-547-2385 or jgerretsen.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org.

 

Apr 03, 2013

Law Talk: March 2013

Law Talk

March, 2013
Motor Vehicle Repairs under the Consumer Protection Act, 2002
For many of us, motor vehicle repairs are an essential part of life. This article will give you an overview of your rights, and tell you what you can do if problems arise related to the repair of your vehicle.
Your Rights as a Consumer
Your rights regarding motor vehicle repairs are protected by Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act, 2002 (CPA). The CPA covers repairs to cars, vans, trucks, and motorcycles. It applies to anyone who repairs motor vehicles, including dealerships with repair facilities, neighbourhood garages, and muffler shops.
Estimates, Authorization, and Parts
Under the CPA, you must receive a written estimate before any work can be done and charged to you. The only exceptions are if you decline an estimate, or if you specify the maximum amount you are willing to pay for repairs. You can be charged a fee for an estimate, if the facility tells you about the fee and you agree to pay it, before the estimate is completed. The actual charge for your repairs cannot exceed the estimate by more than 10 percent. The repairer is required to post a sign disclosing estimate fees (if any), their hourly repair rate, any flat or diagnostic charges, and any storage, delivery, or other related charges. No work may be done on your vehicle until you authorize it, either verbally or in writing. If parts are replaced, the repairer must offer to return the old parts to you unless they are being replaced for free or are covered under the vehicle warranty.   
Automatic Warranties under the CPA
The CPA requires that all new and reconditioned parts, as well as labour, must be covered by a warranty for 90 days or 5,000 kilometres (whichever comes first). If your vehicle breaks down during the warranty period or becomes unsafe to drive, you have the right to take it back to the repair facility during the warranty period, and to have the defective or defectively-installed parts replaced for free. If it is not practical to take the vehicle back to the same shop, you may have the repairs performed at the facility closest to you and the original repairer must reimburse you for the cost of repairing their defect, as well as for any reasonable towing costs involved. 
Lodging a Complaint
If you are having a dispute with a repair facility over the quality of their work, your first step should be to send them a letter outlining your complaint. If that does not resolve the matter, you may want to get a written assessment of your vehicle’s problem from another repair facility. If the assessment indicates that the original repairs were not properly done, then you can ask the initial facility to adjust your bill. If they refuse to do so, then you should file a formal complaint with the Ministry of Consumer Services. A link to the Ministry’s complaint form can be found at the end of this article.
If you have a disagreement with a repair facility over the final bill, you should not withhold payment. If you do, the Repair and Storage Lien Act gives the facility the right to keep your vehicle and sell it after 60 days (provided that it complied with the requirements of the CPA with regard to the repairs). If you are dissatisfied with the quality of work or the amount charged to you, and do not want to pay the amount demanded, you can file a claim with the Small Claims Court and pay the full amount of the bill to the court in the meantime. The Court will decide how much the repair facility should be paid, if at all. The Ministry of the Attorney General has Small Claims Court resource guides on its website at http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/courts/scc/default.asp.
For more information on consumer rights and complaints related to motor vehicle repairs, please visit the Ministry of Consumer Services website at http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/pages/defaults.aspx, or contact them at 1-800-889-9768. To file a complaint with the Ministry regarding a repair of your motor vehicle, please visit http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/msc/Documents/stel02_046670.pdf. In addition, you can find more information about consumer protection topics at any time in a series of Community Law School webinars archived online at www.yourlegalrights.on.ca/training-topic/consumer-law. Be empowered, and stay tuned.
This column is brought to you by Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc., and Community Legal Services and Pro Bono Students Canada at Western University, with financial assistance from the Law Foundation of Ontario. It provides legal information only. The information is accurate as of the date of publication. Laws change frequently so we caution readers from relying on this information if some time has passed since publication. If you need specific legal advice please contact a lawyer, your community legal clinic, Justice Net at 1-866-919-3219 or the Law Society Referral Service at 1-800-268-8326.
 
 

Mar 18, 2013

Are you a Survivor of Violent Crime?

Are you a Survivor of Violent Crime? (Submitted March 15, 2013)


This column is not intended to provide legal advice. It provides general legal information and is written by the staff of community legal clinics, student legal aid societies, volunteer local lawyers and Legal Aid Ontario. The law can change. You should contact a lawyer to determine your legal rights and obligations. If you are living on a low income, you may be eligible for free legal help from Legal Aid Ontario (criminal, family or immigration) or your local community legal clinic (income security programs, employment law, tenants’ rights, consumer law, or human rights). You can reach Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 or visit them online at www.legalaid.on.ca. Contact the Community Advocacy & Legal Centre at 1-877-966-8686 for more information or visit www.communitylegalcentre.ca.

 
Have you experienced assault? Have you ever been criminally harassed? Did you experience abuse as a child? Have you been the victim of domestic violence? If the answer is yes to these questions or if you have been the victim of another violent crime, you may be able to apply for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (“CICB”). The CICB is a program funded by the Ontario government to provide money to victims of violent crime. This program is governed by the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act.
 
You can apply for compensation from the CICB if you have suffered physical, mental, emotional, or psychological injuries as a result of a violent crime that was committed against you. In some cases, if you have been harmed as a result of an injury to another person you will be allowed to apply. An example of such a situation would be if you were the child of a murder victim.
 
Compensation awards can include, for example, money to cover treatment expenses, travel costs to treatment, loss of income as well as damages for pain and suffering.
 
To apply for compensation, the crime must have taken place in Ontario. In addition, you must start your application to the CICB within 2 years of the crime taking place. However, if you were injured while still a child then you must start your application within 2 years of turning 18. In special circumstances, an extension of time may be granted if you have missed the 2 year deadline.
 
In your application, you will have to provide:
 
  • Detailed information about when the crime of violence occurred;
  • The name of the offender;
  • Location of the crime; and
  • If you received medical treatment or counselling. 
An application form can be obtained through the CICB website (link at end of article) or by phoning the CICB directly.
 
Applying for compensation is easier when the person who committed the crime has been convicted of that crime. However, you can still apply for compensation even if no charges have been laid or a conviction made. In doing so, however, you will need to have some evidence to show that it is “more likely than not” the crime of violence occurred.
 
It can take anywhere from 12-18 months to have your claim processed. In some cases, a hearing may be held.
 
You do not need a lawyer to make an application but having one is always recommended and can make the process much easier. In addition, legal advice is always a good idea because you have an option to sue your offender for hurting you as well.
 
Further information on the CICB is available at http://www.cicb.gov.on.ca and at http://yourlegalrights.on.ca/criminal-law/criminal-injuries-compensation. The Community Advocacy & Legal Centre also has information available on its website at http://www.communitylegalcentre.ca/legal_information/CICB.htm.
 
 

Jan 09, 2013

Law Talk January, 2013

Law Talk

January, 2013
A New and Improved You: Personal Development Service Agreements
From karate clubs to dance lessons, personal development service agreements have become increasingly popular in Ontario. While most consumers who purchase these services do not encounter any problems, sometimes a business will go bankrupt or fail to deliver a service as promised. This article will explain how these agreements are regulated, and what options you have if you run into problems with such an agreement.
How are Personal Development Service Agreements Regulated?
Most agreements for services offered by fitness clubs, dance studios, martial arts studios, or modelling and talent agencies are “personal development service agreements” regulated under Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act, 2002 (CPA) if the cost is more than $50. There are exceptions: agreements with non-profit or co-operative organizations, private clubs, charitable or municipal organizations, golf clubs, or any agency of the Province are not covered by the CPA.
What are the Requirements for these Agreements?
The CPA has several requirements. The term of the agreement cannot exceed one year. Initiation fees may not be more than twice the annual membership fee, and you cannot be charged more than one initiation fee. You must have the option to pay the initiation fees and membership dues in monthly instalments, and the cost to pay in installments may not exceed the lump sum fee by more than 25%. You must be given at least 30 days (but not more than 90 days) advance notice of any automatic renewal date for the agreement. If you are not given notice and the service provider renews the agreement, you have the right to cancel your membership and demand the return of any money paid. The agreement may not be changed without your knowledge and your consent to the changes. You do not have to pay for or accept goods or services that you did not request. If you have already paid for unrequested goods or services, you may demand a refund within one year of payment by providing notice to the service provider.
May I Cancel a Personal Development Service Agreement?
Under the CPA, you have a 10-day “cooling off” period and may cancel the agreement and receive a full refund within ten days of receiving a written copy of the agreement, or of the day all services in the agreement are available (whichever is later). You do not have to give a reason for cancelling, but you are required to notify the supplier of your intent to cancel. It is a good idea to cancel in writing and keep a copy so that you have proof that you cancelled. If the provider does not give you a copy of the agreement, you may cancel at any time within one year of the date of the agreement. You may also cancel a pre-purchased membership you bought for a club that wasn’t yet open if the opening is delayed. Finally, the CPA provides that if the supplier does not provide goods or services with a minimum degree of acceptable quality, the agreement may be rendered void.
What if a Provider Refuses to Refund My Money After Cancellation?
The service provider is required to refund any payment made under the agreement once it is cancelled. If they fails to do so, first try resolving the issue directly with the provider. Be sure to outline your complaint in writing and to keep proof of delivery of your complaint, as well as of any interaction or communications with the provider. If you are unable to reach a satisfactory outcome, you may try to resolve your problem by reporting it to Ontario’s Ministry of Consumer Services. The Ministry can impose fines and/or imprisonment if it finds that the provider violated the CPA.
For more information on consumer rights, complaints and cancellations related to personal development services, please visit the Ministry of Consumer Services website at http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/default.aspx, or call them at 1-800-889-9768. In addition, you can find more information about consumer protection topics at any time in a series of Community Law School webinars archived online at www.yourlegalrights.on.ca/training-topic/consumer-law. Be empowered, and stay tuned.
This column is brought to you by Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc., and Community Legal Services and Pro Bono Students Canada at Western University, with financial support from the Law Foundation of Ontario. It provides legal information only. The information is accurate as of the date of publication. Laws change frequently so we caution readers from relying on this information if some time has passed since publication. If you need specific legal advice please contact a lawyer, your community legal clinic, Justice Net at 1-866-919-3219 or the Law Society Referral Service at 1-800-268-8326.
 

Nov 09, 2012

Law Talk: November, 2012

Law Talk

November, 2012

Easy Cash and Pay Day Lending Services

Consumers facing financial difficulty who are unable to obtain credit from a bank or other conventional lender often resort to using the services of a pay day lender. Here is some information you should know when dealing with a pay day lender.

What is a Pay Day Loan?

In a pay day loan the borrower asks for money before their pay cheque, government cheque, or other funds become available. The pay day lender advances the funds, and when the borrower receives the anticipated cheque they use it to repay the loan. Pay day lenders often operate under names like “Cash 4 You” and “Cash Money”. While these loans may be quick and easy to obtain, interest rates can be very high and the repayment due date can be very short, causing you to look to other sources to repay the loan on time.

How Are Pay Day Loans Regulated?

The Criminal Code

If the amount of a pay day loan is greater than $1,500, the Criminal Code prevents a lender from charging more than 59% interest. If you are in this situation, you should call your local police department.

The Pay Day Loans Act

For pay day loans of $1,500 and under, lenders are regulated by Ontario’s Pay Day Loans Act (PDLA). Under the PDLA, pay day lenders must be licensed by the province. Pay day loan companies must provide information that is truthful and clear, and cannot make false, misleading, or deceptive statements. This applies to communications through advertising, posters, pamphlets and contracts. Posters must be displayed in all of the lender’s offices and be visible to all potential borrowers. The posters must state that the maximum amount the pay day lender may charge you for borrowing from them is $21 for every $100 you are loaned, and must display the amount that the lender is actually charging you. Written contracts are required for all loans. A signed copy of the written contract must be given to you at the time your loan is negotiated.  

Under the PDLA, a lender cannot try to sell you other services (such as cheque cashing or currency exchange) when you are there to get a pay day loan. The lender cannot deduct any amount from the loan for administrative fees. You must receive the cash from the loan immediately upon signing the agreement, or within one hour if the agreement was made online. You have an automatic 2-day cooling offer period after you sign the loan agreement, during which you may cancel the agreement for any (or no) reason.  If you cancel, you must return the funds you received, and the lender must return any post-dated cheques or debit forms you gave them. You have the right to repay a loan at any time before it is due without paying a prepayment charge or a penalty. Finally, lenders are not allowed to issue you another loan before your first loan is repaid. 

Can a Pay Day Lender Contact Me to Collect a Loan?

If your loan is in default a lender may contact you, but only on weekdays between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. and on Sundays only between the hours of 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. They may not contact you at all on statutory holidays, or more than 3 times during any 7-day period. They may not use threatening, profane, intimidating or coercive language, or communicate with you in a way that constitutes harassment. 

What Can I do If I Have Problems With a Lender?

If you feel that a pay day lender has violated your rights, you have several options. First, you can complain to the Registrar of the Pay Day Loans Act. This can lead to mediation, the pay day lender being given a written warning, the lender’s license not being renewed, or the lender being fined up to $10,000. Second, you may be able to request a prosecution under the Pay Day Loans Act, which may result in the lender paying a fine or being imprisoned. If neither of these options resolves the matter to your satisfaction, you may be able to sue the lender in either the Small Claims Court or the Superior Court (depending on the amount of your claim).

 

For more information on consumer rights and complaints related to pay day lending services, please visit the Ministry of Consumer Services website at http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/Pages/default.aspx or call them at 1-800-889-9768. In addition, you can find more information about consumer protection topics at any time in a series of Community Law School webinars archived online at www.yourlegalrights.on.ca/training-topic/consumer-law. Be empowered, and stay tuned.

This column is brought to you by Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc., and Community Legal Services and Pro Bono Students Canada at Western University, with financial support from the Law Foundation of Canada. It provides legal information only.  The information is accurate as of the date of publication. Laws change frequently so we caution readers from relying on this information if some time has passed since publication. If you need specific legal advice please contact a lawyer, your community legal clinic, Justice Net at 1-866-919-3219, or the Law Society Referral Service at 1-800-268-8326.

 

Oct 03, 2012

Law Talk: October, 2012

Law Talk

October, 2012

Surviving Home Renovations under the Consumer Protection Act

Home renovation projects can be long and costly. While consumers are protected by numerous provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 (CPA), contractors are largely unregulated, allowing unscrupulous contractors to take advantage of consumers. Home renovation grievances were the second most common complaint received by the Ministry of Consumer Services from 2004 to 2010. Taking time to plan, organize, and educate yourself before beginning a renovation project can help the process to go more smoothly. This article will give you an overview of what you should know when dealing with a contractor, and what you can do if you need to seek legal recourse.

 

Renovation Agreements and Estimates

 

Home renovation agreements must be in writing if they involve $50 or more of goods or services, and at least one of the parties is in Ontario. The agreement must provide the names of and contact information for the parties, a detailed description of the work to be completed, when and where the work will be completed, and the names of any subcontractors. The agreement must be signed and dated by all parties. The final price of the renovation cannot be greater than 10 percent above the estimated cost (if any) included in the agreement. If new work arises, the contractor must discuss it with you and ask you to approve a change order that includes the new work, with a revised estimate.

 

Warranties

 

Home renovations are warranted under the CPA to be of reasonably acceptable quality. The contractor is responsible for backing up these warranties if a problem arises during or after the conclusion of the renovations.

 

Beware of Door-to-Door Contractors

 

Some home renovation contractors go door-to-door selling their products and services. These are called “direct agreements” under the CPA. You should be very cautious of door-to-door contractors who claim to “just be in the neighbourhood”. Always ask about the contractor’s experience, and for his or her business address and phone number. You should get estimates from at least three different contractors, and avoid paying any large up-front fees or deposits. Some salespeople may offer to inspect furnaces, chimneys, or roofs free of charge, and then tell you that expensive work is required. It is important not to be tempted to sign a contract on the spot merely because the salesperson is present.

 

Your Legal Recourse

 

The CPA provides special protections related to direct agreements like door-to-door sales contracts. If the direct agreement was signed at a place other than the contractor’s place of business, you have a “cooling off” period until 10 days after receiving a copy of the agreement, during which you may cancel it without penalty. If you do not receive a written copy of the agreement, you may cancel it anytime within one year. To cancel the agreement, notify the contractor.  While written notice is not required, it is wise to give notice in writing and to keep proof that you did so (such as a fax confirmation, registered mail receipt, or having the contractor or its employee sign a receipt when the notice is delivered).

If you are not satisfied with the home renovation work, contact the business directly and clearly outline your complaint in writing. Keep proof of delivery and any of interaction with the business. If the matter is not resolved that way report the problem to the Ministry of Consumer Services, which has broad investigative powers. As a last resort, legal action may be necessary for home renovations that were not performed as agreed.

For more information and to contact the Ministry of Consumer Services, call 1-800-880-9768 or visit their website http://www.sse.gov.on.ca/mcs/en/pages/Homes_repairs_and_renovations.aspx where you can find complaint forms and help on cancelling contracts. In addition, you can find more information about consumer protection topics at any time in a series of Community Law School webinars archived online at www.yourlegalrights.on.ca/training-topic/consumer-law. Be empowered, and stay tuned.

This column is brought to you by Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc., and Community Legal Services and Pro Bono Students Canada at Western University, with financial support from the Law Foundation of Ontario. It provides legal information only.  The information is accurate as of the date of publication. Laws change frequently so we caution readers from relying on this information if some time has passed since publication. If you need specific legal advice please contact a lawyer, your community legal clinic, Justice Net at 1-866-919-3219, or the Law Society Referral Service at 1-800-268-8326.

 

 

Sep 07, 2012

Thinking About Renting?

Thinking About Renting:  How does the Residential Tenancies Act apply?

This column is not intended to provide legal advice. It provides general legal information and is written by the staff of community legal clinics, student legal aid societies, volunteer local lawyers and Legal Aid Ontario. The law can change. You should contact a lawyer to determine your legal rights and obligations. If you are living on a low income, you may be eligible for free legal help from Legal Aid Ontario (criminal, family or immigration) or your local community legal clinic (income security programs, employment law, tenants’ rights, consumer law, or human rights). You can reach Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 or visit them online at www.legalaid.on.ca. Contact the Kingston Community Legal Clinic at 613-541-0777.


If you are thinking about renting a place to live, or becoming a landlord, you need to be informed about the law.  The Residential Tenancies Act (Act) is a law that governs the relationship between residential landlords and tenants in Ontario.  It sets out the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, and establishes the Landlord and Tenant Board.  The Board is responsible for informing landlords and tenants about the law, and for resolving landlord and tenant disputes through hearings and mediation. 


The Act applies to most residential rentals including mobile homes, rooming houses, care homes, and in some cases, motel rooms. However, the Act does not apply to some living situations.  For example, it doesn’t apply if the tenant must share a kitchen or bathroom with the owner, or certain family members of the owner; or if the rental unit is only to be used on a seasonal or temporary basis.  It also does not apply if you are a roommate who rents accommodation from a tenant instead of from the landlord of a rental property.


As a landlord or a tenant, you have a number of rights and obligations.  As a landlord, you must keep the rental property in a state of good repair, and not interfere with a tenant’s reasonable enjoyment of the property.  As a tenant you must pay rent to the landlord, and must not interfere with the landlord’s and other tenants’ enjoyment of the property.  


There are also important rules about things like rent increases and evictions.  In most cases, a landlord can only increase the rent once a year by a percentage that is set each year by the government.  The percentage for 2012 is 3.1% and 2.5% for 2013. To increase the rent, a landlord must also give tenants 90 days written notice. 


The rules about eviction are very strict.  As a landlord, you can only evict a tenant for a reason that is allowed in the Act.  You must give tenants proper eviction notices (called “Notices of Termination”) that explain the reason you want an eviction.  If a tenant does not want to move out after getting an eviction notice, you must apply to the Board for an eviction order.  The Board will schedule a hearing where you can each present your side of the story.  Instead of having a hearing, you can also try to settle your dispute by making an agreement with the help of a mediator who works for the Board.  If you cannot make an agreement, the Board will have a hearing and make a decision.  Note that a tenant cannot be evicted without an eviction order.


Tenants can apply to the Board for help enforcing their rights about things like disrepair; illegal rent, charges and deposits; and harassment by landlords.


More free information is available online at yourlegalrights.on.ca/housing-law.  Tenants may get legal advice by calling the Kingston Community Legal Clinic.  Small landlords may contact the Landlord Self-Help Centre at 1-800-730-3218 (www.landlordselfhelp.com). For more information about the Act, you can contact the Board at 1-888-332-3234 (www.ltb.gov.on.ca). 
 

Sep 04, 2012

Law Talk : September 2012

Stop Calling: How Collection Agencies are Regulated in Ontario

Failing to pay a debt can have serious consequences: you may be taken to court, your assets may be seized, funds might be taken directly from your paycheque, and your credit rating could be adversely impacted. When you owe a debt your creditor may use a collection agency, a third-party business acting on behalf of the creditor, to seek payment. While collection agencies in Ontario must be registered and are regulated under the Collection Agencies Act, it is important to know your rights when dealing with one.

Responding to a collection agency

Once you have been contacted by a collection agency, it is important to respond to them promptly. To avoid confusion, do not contact the original creditor.

If you agree with the amount owed and you can pay the debt, do so as soon as possible. If you are unable to pay it all at once, offer an alternative payment arrangement (such as monthly installments) that is suitable to both parties. If a payment arrangement is made, write a letter confirming it and include your first payment with the letter. Do not pay in cash, but with a method that will give you a record of the payment, such as by cheque.

If you do not agree with the amount owed, send a registered letter saying that you dispute the debt to both the original creditor and the collection agency. Do not make a payment or offer to pay. The collection agency is then prohibited from continuing to demand payment from you unless it obtains a court order to do so.

Your rights

A collection agency may not demand payment of a debt from you without express written authority from the company you owe the debt to, and without first notifying you of the agency’s intention to collect a debt.  This notice must be sent in writing to your last known address, and the collection agency cannot begin the collection process until six days have passed following the sending of the notice. The notice must contain the names of the creditor and the collection agency, the amount owed, and the law that allows the collection agency to demand payment.

Under the Collection Agencies Act, a collection agency cannot:

·       Collect additional charges to the debt owed;

·       Contact you more than three times in a seven day period;

·       Call you on statutory holidays;

·       Call you before 7:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, or before 1:00 p.m. or after 5:00 p.m. on a Sunday;

·       Contact another person regarding your debt unless that person has guaranteed to pay your debt, you have authorized the collection agency to contact that person, or it is merely trying to obtain your contact information;

·       Contact your employer unless your employer has guaranteed to pay your debt, the collection agency has a court order, or it is merely confirming your place of employment;

·       Use threatening, profane, intimidating or coercive language; or

·       Use undue, excessive or unreasonable pressure.

You should keep a record of contacts you receive from a collection agency, including the date, time, and frequency of any calls.

Making a complaint

If a collection agency engages in a prohibited activity, you can send a complaint to the Ministry of Consumer Services, which will investigate and potentially charge the collection agency with violating the law. Penalties include suspension of the collection agency’s licence, fines, or imprisonment. If the nature of collection agency phone calls is fraudulent or abusive, the collection agency may be criminally liable. As well, you may be able to sue the collection agency for damages.


For more information we encourage you to contact the Ministry of Consumer Services at www.ontario.ca/mcs or toll free at 1-800-889-9768. In addition, you can find more information about consumer protection topics at any time in a series of Community Law School webinars archived online at www.yourlegalrights.on.ca/training-topic/consumer-law. Be empowered, and stay tuned.

 

This column is brought to you by Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc., and Community Legal Services and Pro Bono Students Canada at Western University, with funding support from the Law Foundation of Ontario. It provides legal information only.  The information is accurate as of the date of publication. Laws change frequently so we caution readers from relying on this information if some time has passed since publication. If you need specific legal advice please contact a lawyer, your community legal clinic, Justice Net at 1-866-919-3219 or the Law Society Referral Service at 1-800-268-8326.

Jun 06, 2012

Why Make A Will

WHY MAKE A WILL

 

This column is not intended to provide legal advice; it is just general legal information provided by volunteer local lawyers and the staff of community legal clinics and Legal Aid Ontario. The law can change. You must contact a lawyer to determine your legal rights and obligations. If you are living on a low income, you may be eligible for free legal help from Legal Aid Ontario (criminal, family or immigration) or your local community legal clinic (income security programs, employment law, tenants’ rights, or human rights). You can reach Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 or visit them online at www.legalaid.on.ca. Contact us, Kingston Community Legal Clinic at 613-541-0777 or Queen’s Legal Aid at 613-533-2102.


The best reason for making a will is to avoid what happens if you die without one.  By not having a will you give up the right to choose who will inherit your property, the amount each person will get, and when they will get it (i.e. immediately or at a future time). 

 

If you die without a will, these decisions are made under Ontario’s succession laws.  For example, if you are married but have no children at the time of your death, Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act says that your spouse would be entitled to all your remaining property after payment of your funeral expenses, debts and taxes. If at your death you leave behind a spouse by marriage and children, your spouse would be entitled to the first $200,000.00 worth of property, with the remainder being shared between your spouse and children.

 

 

But what happens if you are not married to your partner and you are living in a common law relationship?  Under Ontario’s succession laws only spouses by marriage have a statutory right to share in the deceased’s estate.  Common law spouses do not have that right, but in certain circumstances they can make a claim for support. 

 

 

If you were not survived by a married spouse or by any children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc., your estate could go to your parents, if alive, and if not, then to your surviving brothers and sisters or their children, if any, and so on.  Where there are no surviving kin, and no will, your property would go to the Government of Ontario!

 

 

Another huge challenge is that without a will there is nobody with the legal authority to deal with your property or financial affairs.  In a will you can appoint an Executor or Estate Trustee who immediately upon your death has the power to deal with your estate.  Without a will, no one has that authority until someone (usually a relative) is appointed by the court. Having to go to court can cause lengthy delays resulting in unnecessary hardship and expense for your family.

 

 

Providing for our loved ones on death may not, as this column illustrates, be quite as simple as you might have thought.  Clearly, we should all take advantage of the opportunity to make a will.  Additionally if you want to be sure that your will complies with the law and is effective to carry out your wishes, you should consult a lawyer.  

 

 

 

You can find more information about wills online. Justice Ontario’s website (http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/justice-ont/estate_planning.asp) contains a lot of information about wills and estates. The Advocacy Centre for the Elderly also has an informative website: http://www.acelaw.ca/estates_-_introduction.php. Another great resource with lots of links to information is http://yourlegalrights.on.ca/wills-and-estates. Finally, you can consult http://www.communitylegalcentre.ca/referrals/POA.htm for links to these, and other resources.  

 

 

 

 

 

Jun 01, 2012

Bullying Zine

Click here for a copy of the Bullying Zine. 

The Bullying Zine is the latest major project of the JFCY Public Legal Education Team.

The PLE Team is a group of volunteers of all ages (but mostly young people) that work with me on our social media and other PLE resources.  The topics in the Bullying Zine were selected and written by the volunteers, under the leadership and guidance of editor Leora Jackson, a U of T law student from the Pro Bono Students Canada program.

Please share this resource with any youth in your life, or others interested in these important issues.

It is also available on JFCY's website and blog (BLOG: http://jfcy1.blogspot.com/ website: www.jfcy.org.)

It prints nicely in colour and in black-and-white.

Apr 26, 2012

KCLC Brochure

Please click here to see our new brochure.

Mar 02, 2012

Family Breakdown - What is “Legal” Separation?

 

 


Family Breakdown - What is “Legal” Separation?

This column is not intended to provide legal advice; it is just general legal information provided by volunteer local lawyers and the staff of community legal clinics and Legal Aid Ontario. The law can change. You must contact a lawyer to determine your legal rights and obligations. If you are living on a low income, you may be eligible for free legal help from Legal Aid Ontario (criminal, family or immigration) or your local community legal clinic (income security programs, employment law, tenants’ rights, or human rights). You can reach Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 or visit them online at www.legalaid.on.ca. Contact Kingston Community Legal Clinic at 613-541-0777 or Queen's Legal Aid at 613-533-2102 for more information or visit www.kclc.ca.

 

 
One of the first questions people have when a relationship breaks down is “how do I become legally separated?”. In Canada there is no official process to become separated. All that needs to happen is that you and your spouse decide to live “separate and apart” from each other. This doesn’t mean that you can’t live in the same house, only that you clearly intend that you will no longer be a couple. The date that you decide to live separate and apart is important for legal reasons. It is strongly recommended that you seek legal advice so you understand your rights, obligations and any possible consequences of separating.

 


When people use the term “legal separation”, they usually mean a separation agreement, which is an agreement between you and your spouse that sets out how to divide what you used to share, like:

  • How you are going to parent your children now that you live apart

  • Who owns what and who owes what

  • Child and spousal support

 

You may be tempted to make oral agreements or informal, unsigned written agreements when you separate. These agreements are nearly impossible to enforce and aren’t recommended because they often lead to confusion or arguments later on about what they mean. If the Court has to interpret an informal agreement it can get expensive, time consuming, and you might be unhappy with the outcome.

 

If it is written down, signed, witnessed, and dated by both parties the agreement is binding. This is true even if you and your spouse write your own agreement. A Court will rarely interfere with a separation agreement, unless there was fraud or intimidation involved. A Judge will not change it later just because you decide you got a bad deal. You should be aware of your rights and the possible legal consequences before you sign any agreement with your spouse.

 

You may want to try mediation if you and your spouse have trouble coming to an agreement on your own. Mediators may help you reach an agreement, but they cannot give you legal advice and it is not their job to make sure you know your legal rights. Their role is only to listen and help you reach a compromise. Only a lawyer can give you legal advice. Please note that paralegals are not allowed to practice family law.

 

Separations can be complicated and emotional. You should seek legal advice before making any decisions that will impact your future life, your children, and your financial well-being. In many cases, the best and most economical way to approach separation is to ask a lawyer about your rights and obligations under the law. You should each have your own lawyer. You may be eligible for Legal Aid or you can contact the Lawyer Referral Service (1-800-268-8326) for a free legal consultation of up to 30 minutes.

Income and Health Benefits for Seniors - What's Ou

 

For more informaiton about the income and health benefits available to seniors, read this article.

 

 

 

Resource News

Apr 05, 2017

Shedding Light on Ontario's Energy Sector

 

 

Dec 21, 2015

Family Law Resource Sheet

 

For information about family law resources in Frontenac County, we hope you will find the  resource sheet helpful.

Dec 10, 2015

ACE Newsletter: December 2015

The Advocacy Centre for the Elderly has released its December 2015 issue of the ACE Newsletter.

INSIDE THIS ISSUE:

  • The Ontario Retirement Pension Plan
  • What to do if Your Retirement Home Staff Claim Your Care Needs are Too High
  • Continuing Powers of Attorney for Property and the Banks
  • Les Procurations Et Les Banques
  • Adults Living with Seniors: Tenants or not Tenants
  • Ontario’s First Patient Ombudsman
  • Detention in Long-Term Care

For a copy of the ACE Newsletter, click here.

Nov 27, 2014

Disabililty Tax Credit: A Do-It-Yourself Guide

There are a number of companies offering to help people with disabilities get thousands of dollars in compensation from the Canadian government. These companies expect to be paid for something you can easily do yourself for free.

Typically, these companies charge you for assisting you with applying for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC). The DTC is a tax credit that you can apply for if you have a severe and prolonged disability can claim to reduce the amount of income tax you have to pay. Applying for the DTC on your own is easy and free. To apply for the DTC, you must have filed your taxes. If you need help filing your taxes, you should see if there are any community organizations near you that will help you with this for free. Then get a copy of Form T2201 on the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website (http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/disability/) or by calling 1-800-959-8281. You fill out a short part and then you take the form to your family doctor to complete. Your doctor may charge you a fee to complete the form, but you may be able to claim this fee on your income taxes.

After your doctor returns the form to you, write a short letter asking for “retroactivity of the tax credit.” Include a T1 Adjustment Request Form. This form is available as set out above. Submit the Form T2201, the T1 Adjustment Form and the letter asking for retroactivity to the CRA. Once the Canada Revenue Agency receives your form, they will look at any years that you qualified as a person with a disability. This could result in a refund. It is that easy.
 
If you hire one of these companies to help you get this money, they will take the exact same steps outlined above and often take a large percentage of any refund. If you apply yourself, you receive the entire refund. If you are denied the DTC, you must file a Form T400A within 90 days. The form is available as set out above. If you have already signed an agreement with one of these companies, please contact the Community Advocacy & Legal Centre for information about your options.
 
Once you qualify for the DTC, you can also open a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). An RDSP is a savings plan that can help a person with a disability save for the long term financial security. For RDSP holders under 50, the government may match any contributions made to a certain limit and contribute up to $1,000 per year even if no contributions are made. RDSP’s are exempt assets for Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program.
 
There is a new law called the Disability Tax Credit Promoters Restrictions Act. This law limits the fees that can be charged for helping someone complete a DTC application. The purpose is to keep more money in the pockets of people with disabilities, where it is most needed. The CRA is holding public consultations about how this law should work. If you are interested in being consulted, you can go to: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/
sgmnts/dsblts/prtcptn-eng.html
.

 

This column, written by staff or volunteer lawyers with the Community Advocacy & Legal Centre (CALC), provides general legal information only about current laws. If you need legal advice you should contact a lawyer. If you are living on a low income you may be eligible for free legal help. Contact your local community legal clinic if you need help with income programs, workers’ or tenants’ rights, consumer problems, or human rights. Call Kingston Community Legal Clinic at 613-541-0777 or visit www.kclc.ca.  If you have a criminal, family or immigration law problem, contact Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258or visit www.legalaid.on.ca.

 

Jul 16, 2014

LAO introduces separation agreement certificates

For more information about the separation agreement certificate, click here.

News Archive