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GTA CLINIC TRANSFORMATION PROJECT: Monthly Newsletter September 2013

GTA CLINIC TRANSFORMATION PROJECT

Monthly Newsletter September 2013

Call for research on best practices

The GTA Transformation Project will be looking at international research and best practices for poverty law services to build on our existing literature review. Our current bibliography of research already reviewed is posted on our website – www.GTAclinics.ca. We would love to hear from you about any literature and articles that you know of that will help with this project. Email us or give us a call with anything you think is missing or to let us know of any information you’d like us to focus on.

Data Gathering Begins

Data gathering for the GTA Transformation is underway.

Since the Government changed the form for the 2011 Census, the data collected is not as helpful as the previous Census. A combination of 2011 Census data and 2010 Tax filer data will be used for most of the analysis as it will provide a fairly strong picture about where new immigrants are settling. When it is helpful, we will use the 2006 Census data to augment the other data we have.

Data will explore issues like low incomes, immigration rates and find the areas in the GTA that have the highest concentration of those circumstances.

The project will map the data and will overlay geographic data like the location of social housing and transit.

Additional data to be explored for their potential inclusion will include data on refugees, mental health survivors, Ontario Works and ODSP recipients.

A data subcommittee of the Steering Committee has been struck, with representatives from across the GTA. The subcommittee will discuss what data will be included in the data analysis of the project.

Project Workplan

The GTA Transformation Project will be working hard over the next several months to meet our project deliverables. In order to make sure that we respect the time needed to get this right, our project timelines may shift. Here’s a breakdown of our current workplan.

Deliverable

Steering Committee meeting

Data gathering of Clinics

October

Key informant interviews

Staff and client focus groups

November

Key informant interviews

Data analysis of Clinics

Literature review

December

Review of existing models

Model development

January

Key informant interviews

Infrastructure review, including IT, HR

February

Transition planning

March

Introduction to Low Income Population Data

Low income population statistics will be referred to in various contexts as we go through the GTA Legal Clinics Transformation Project. This article is an introduction to the concept, as requested by the Steering Committee.

LICO

The statistic generally used to represent the low income population in an area is Statistics Canada’s “low income cut off” statistic or LICO. Statistics Canada defines LICO as “the income below which a family is likely to spend 20 percentage points more of its income on food, shelter and clothing than the average family.” If the average family spends 43% of its before tax income on food, shelter and clothing, then the low income cut off will be families spending 63% or more of income on those necessities. That is the basic definition – the actual calculation is fairly complex and includes regression analysis. Fortunately, the data is not complex to use.

There are separate LICO’s for seven family sizes (from single persons to families of seven or more) and five community sizes (from rural areas to urban areas of 500,000 or more). This results in 35 LICO figures which are actual dollar figures. An individual or family which is below the LICO figure for the particular family size in the particular community size is considered “low income”. As Toronto, York and Peel are all communities of over 500,000, we are only concerned with the seven family size LICOs for that size of community: $23,298 for a single person.

LICO is a measure of the population which is significantly less well off than the average population – it is not intended to be a measure of “poverty”. While this may not be a perfect definition of poverty, it is the best available and the most statistically reliable. In the absence of any accepted definition of poverty, the LICO figures are regularly used by analysts as a shorthand for “low income population” and are used by the Transformation Project.

Other Measures

Other poverty measures include the Low Income Measure (LIM) which is 50% of the median household income and the Market Based Measure (MBM) which is intended to measure the minimum you need to buy food, shelter and clothing. LIM is just a measure of median incomes with no relation to what is needed to survive. MBM is a measure of absolute abject poverty. LICO is a relative measure of poverty – indicating those who are significantly worse off than the average. So far, it has been the preferred measure.

Currency of Data

All figures in this article are from the 2006 census and are thus out of date. During that time we have been through a recession. As well, there has been significant population growth in some areas of the GTA. Between the 2006 census and the 2011 census, the population of York Region has grown 16%, the Region of Peel has grown 12% and the City of Toronto has grown 4.5%. The LICO percentages may have also changed, so the change in the low income population needs to be calculated.

The GTA Transformation Project will use updated 2010 and some 2011 data, which has become available just recently.

How do I have a say?

If you are involved with a Clinic, talk to your Clinic’s Steering Committee representative about what’s happening. If you work at a Clinic you’ll be asked to have direct input. If you live in an affected community, we’ll be seeking people to participate in interviews and focus groups to give us their guidance, let us know you’d like to participate. And if you just have a really great idea, send us an email at info@gtaclinics.ca

You can stay on top of all the progress by visiting our website ww w. GT Acl i nics. ca , and have input through there as well. In the meantime, we will be putting out this newsletter once a month to let you know what’s been happening.

Thanks for taking an interest in the GTA Clinic Transformation Project.

 

GTA Clinic Transformation Project
http://www.GTAclinics.ca

REXDALE COMMUNITY HUB: Family Law Information Session

Microskills: Family Law Info Session

REXDALE COMMUNITY HUB: OCTOBER 25th Grand Opening!

Rexdale Community Hub: Grand Opening!

 

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change: #InItTogether #MageItRight

We are launching a new provincial campaign to ensure migrant workers have the same rights and benefits as all Ontarians. For too long Ontario’s laws have excluded migrant workers. This affects us all. It’s time to #MakeItRight. We are #InItTogether.

Our first action is a Feast for Fairness on Saturday, October 12, at 1030am at St. Lawrence’s Market in Toronto.  More details..

All workers, including agriculture workers, should be protected equally under Ontario’s labour laws. All workers should be entitled to minimum wage and overtime. They should be able to enforce these rights without worrying about being too late or having to under-claim how much they are actually owed by employers.

Learn more…

All workers should be protected from being charged illegal and exorbitant fees by recruiters and agencies. Recruiters and employers should be registered, and the provinces and feds should work together with workers’ home governments to make sure that protection is effective across all borders.

Learn more…

Going home after work should be a relief but many migrant workers have no relief from the stress of work since they live at or near their workplace.  They deserve decent housing and this requires inspection, enforcement, regulation, and viable alternatives.

Learn more…

Farm workers need strong health and safety protections at work; domestic workers should be included in occupational health and safety laws; and all migrants should have immediate access to health services and other benefits that all Ontarians get.

Learn more…

Migrant workers need stronger protections to make workers rights complaints and proactive enforcement of their rights. Migrant workers should have the right to change employers and stay in the country for settlement or employment standards purposes.

Learn more…

Tell the Leaders of Ontario’s Provincial Parties that they must work together to ensure migrant workers have the same rights and protections as all other Ontarians.

Take action now!

     
Copyright © 2013 Migrant Workers-Alliance for Change, All rights reserved.

The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change includes Alliance of South Asian Aid Prevention, Asian Community Aids Services, Caregivers Action Centre, Industrial Accident Victims’ Group of Ontario, Justicia for Migrant Workers, KAIROS, Legal Aid Windsor, Migrante Ontario, No One Is Illegal – Toronto, Parkdale Community Legal Services, Social Planning Toronto, Unifor, United Food and Commercial Workers and the Workers’ Action Centre.

Our mailing address is:

Migrant Workers-Alliance for Change

720 Spadina Avenue, Suite 223

-Toronto, Ontario -M5S 2T9

Canada

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Paralegal Amanda Bitton: Proud to be a full-time advocate for refugee claimants

LAO newsroom

News archives

LAO Newsroom

Paralegal Amanda Bitton is proud to be a full-time advocate for refugee claimants

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Licensed paralegal Amanda Bitton has been “excited, proud and nervous” ever since Rexdale Community Legal Centre hired her in July to support refugee claimants on a full-time basis.

She’s very aware that her new job — providing frontline services to these vulnerable clients — is part of a Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) pilot agreement to fund the cost of hiring her, and demonstrate LAO’s commitment to the appropriate use of licensed paralegals.

So she sometimes loses sleep thinking of the responsibility she’s taken on.

 Amanda Bitton

High quality services are paramount

“As a regulated professional who must meet the licensing requirements of the Law Society of Upper Canada, this is an important opportunity to demonstrate that my experience, training and ethics will result in high quality services. That’s what will be paramount,” she says. “The stakes are high for me because everybody is watching. But my main concern is that they are even higher for my clients.”

Amanda’s education includes a four-year degree in political science at McMaster University. However, she actually started working at the Rexdale Community Legal Clinic while she was still a student of Humber College’s two-year Paralegal Education program, from which she graduated in June 2012.

Amanda applied to the Rexdale Community Legal Centre while she was still at Humber, to provide her with work hours toward the mandatory 14-week paid work term that’s part of Humber’s licensing requirements for students in this diploma program.

She hearts Rexdale

Her work placement at Rexdale, followed by employment there between August 2012 and January 2013, gave her experience in helping out at reception and attending intakes, hearings and interviews.

“By the end of that placement, I knew there was nowhere else I wanted to work,” she says. “I just love this clinics’ underlying philosophy of trusting colleagues and clients to come up with the most effective resolutions through working together in collaboration.”

What appealed to her most? “Clients would come in, throw a bunch of papers they couldn’t make sense of onto the desk, and ask for assistance,” she explains. “I loved being able to help people determine which issues they needed to deal with to move forward, to represent them before administrative tribunals such as the Landlord and Tenant Board, and to see them walk away and feel a bit easier about their lives.”

Amanda kept coming in as a volunteer once her paid placement at Rexdale was over, and cheerfully took on even the most basic tasks. When the prospect of applying for the refugee pilot arose, she began studying the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, signed up for training on refugee law, began attending conferences on the subject, and asked to job-shadow LAO’s refugee lawyers.

Passion, a positive attitude and an astute legal mind

“We hired her because of her passion, positive attitude, commitment to our clients and incredibly astute legal mind,” recalls LAO’s Jayne Mallin, who headed up Rexdale’s legal clinic at the time.

“We had recognized very early on in Amanda’s placement, through her handling of intake and while assisting with research and factum writing – where her legal analysis was always accurate, thoughtful, and solution focused – that she is a very high quality paralegal.”

Today Amanda’s responsibilities include interviewing refugee claimants, helping them fill in the forms they need to complete to apply for refugee status in Canada, and representing these vulnerable individuals, under the supervision of a lawyer, at the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).

“If my Mom had known about what community legal clinics could do for families like ours, if we’d had someone advocating for us like I can advocate for my clients, she would have had fewer struggles,”

Advocacy, accessibility and affordability

An LAO staff lawyer and LAO’s district office staff review Amanda’s paperwork once it’s completed. While Amanda is qualified to appear on her own before the RPD, an LAO lawyer will accompany her to hearings for the first six months of the pilot. This interim measure will ensure that clients are receiving high quality services and provide her with further training.

She’s pleased to be on a career path that goes back to her childhood in a single parent family. “If my Mom had known about what community legal clinics could do for families like ours, if we’d had someone advocating for us like I can advocate for my clients, she would have had fewer struggles,” she says.

“It’s all about accessibility and affordability,” she adds. “Sometimes only a lawyer can do the job. But we are a more affordable alternative in situations where a paralegal is qualified to do the same job. Here at Rexdale, I can provide quality legal services within my scope of practice for refugees whose very lives could depend on their ability to access resources and justice in a meaningful way.”

Questions

For questions or further information, please contact:

Josephine Li
Communications advisor
Phone: 416-979-2352, ext.6015
Email: lijos@lao.on.ca and/or media@lao.on.ca

http://legalaid.on.ca/en/news/newsarchive/1309-20_AmandaBitton.asp

2 Days of Flowers – Thanks to Pastor Allan Bowen of the Abundant Life Assembly

Pastor Al bringing flowers to the Rexdale Hub

Thank you to Pastor Allan Bowen of the Abundant Life Assembly who brought truckloads of beautiful Fall Mums on September 17th and 18th to the Rexdale Community Hub as a gift to everyone who lives and works in the community.

Abundant Life Assembly online:

WWW: http://www.abundantlifeassembly.ca/ala/Home.html
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abundantlifeassembly
Twitter: https://twitter.com/abundanttweets

PUBLIC MEETING: Poverty Reduction Consultation Hosted by MPP Laura Albanese

Poverty Reduction Consultation

The purpose of the consultation session is to hear the community’s perspective on how we can continue to work together to create jobs, prosperity, and reduce poverty in Ontario through innovation and partnerships.

When Breaking the Cycle: Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy was launched in 2008, it signaled a bold new vision for a fairer society.  Now, the government is engaging people across the province as they work to renew the strategy and continue their progress to reduce poverty in Ontario.

Your feedback will be a vital part of this process.

The engagement session will be hosted by Laura and take place on Monday September 30, 2013 at the:

Mt. Dennis Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 31

1050 Weston Rd, Toronto, ON M6N 3S2

http://goo.gl/maps/1lUaX

Registration begins at 6:30 p.m.

 

The consultation will run from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Refreshments will be provided.

Please RSVP to Darlene at dferreira@liberal.ola.org and please let us know if you require any accommodation (such as transit fare reimbursement, etc.) to participate.

The government is committed to hearing from as many Ontarians as possible as they work to renew the Poverty Reduction Strategy. If you are unable to attend, you may also provide your input on this important discussion by visiting www.ontario.ca/breakingthecycle.

We hope to see you on Monday September 30th and hear your ideas on how we can work together to break the cycle of poverty and increase opportunities for all Ontarians.

Attachments:

Pdf_icon Poverty Reduction Consultation Invitation

REXDALE COMMUNITY LEGAL CLINIC: 2013 Annual General Meeting

Thanks to everyone who attended our Annual General Meeting, including our community partners Albion Neighbourhood Services, Rexdale Women’s Centre, Rexdale Community Health Centre, Somali Business Development Centre, Dejinta Beesha, Rexdale Community Hub, our staff, students, and volunteers, our board of directors, and our community!

We also appreciate and would like to acknowledge the presence of Legal Aid Ontario including Professor John McCamus, Chair of the Board of Directors , Vicki Moretti, Vice President GTA Region,  Cynthia Harper, Director of Poverty Law Services, Catherine Sutherland, Poverty Law Coordinator, and Jayne Mallin, Senior Counsel and Special Advisor to the GTA Clinic Transformation Project.

We also want to extend our gratitude to The Honorable Ted McMeekin, Minister of Community & Social Services, for providing insights into recent changes to OW and ODSP, as well as Ontario’s poverty reduction strategy.

Special thanks to the Broken Silence Dance Crew for providing entertainment!

 Director of Legal Services Ann McRae, Chair of the Board of RCLC Robert Reynolds, and Treasurer Anita Billing  Chair of the Board of Directors for Legal Aid Ontario Professor John McCamus
 The Honorable Ted McMeekin, Minister of Community and Social Services  The Minister address changes to OW & ODSP as well as Ontario's poverty reduction strategy.
 Director of Administration Itallica Battiston  Broken Silence Dance Crew
 Broken Silence Dance Crew  agm_8sml

Our Annual Report is now available online:

http://www.rexdalecommunitylegalclinic.ca/Annual_Report.pdf

LAO newsroom: LAO invests an additional $3 million in community and legal clinics

LAO newsroom

News archives

LAO Newsroom

LAO invests an additional $3 million in community and legal clinics

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

 

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is investing additional provincial funding of $3 million in 2013/14 to create two new funds that support Ontario’s community and legal aid clinics. This support includes:

LAO’s budget commitment

“…additional funding of $30 million over three years [$10 million annually, beginning in 2013/14] will be provided to Legal Aid Ontario. This funding will improve access to justice and enhance outcomes for low-income families, victims of domestic violence and other vulnerable groups by strengthening the capacity of Family Law Service Centres and other community and legal clinics across Ontario to respond to evolving needs, and ensure services are sustainable.”
— Government of Ontario Budget, May 3, 2013

  • $2 million to create a Fund to Strengthen the Capacity of Community and Legal Clinics, which will achieve the objectives of Ontario’s 2013 budget and

  • $1 million to create a Clinic Transformation Fund that will advance LAO’s clinic modernization program through clinic transformation and future savings.

This $3 million is 30 per cent of the $10 million in additional funding LAO is receiving from the government for 2013/14, as announced in the May 2013 budget. LAO will invest the remaining 70 per cent of the new funding in family law initiatives.

In addition to this $3 million, for 2013/14, LAO is also providing Ontario’s clinics with:

  • $67.8 million in core funding and

  • $4.15 million in special project funding to upgrade aging information technology infrastructure including desktops, laptops, monitors, and Microsoft Office Exchange. This support comes from a $3.25 million grant from the Law Foundation of Ontario, plus $900,000 from LAO’s own funding allocation.

 

Questions

For questions or further information, please contact:

Kristian Justesen
Director, Communications and Stakeholder Relations Group
Phone: 416-979-2352, ext.4782
Email: justesk@lao.on.ca and/or media@lao.on.ca