"So many dreams at first seem impossible. And then they seem improbable. And then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable."
~ Christopher Reeve

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

FYI: Official Launch of Access Legal Help NS Project

"Tuesday, December 3, marked the official launch of the Access Legal Help NS project, which offers pro bono summary advice to Nova Scotians in need.

The launch event was hosted by McInnes Cooper in Halifax, with the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia (LISNS).

Mission
Our mission is to establish and maintain a legal pro bono hub that will support access to basic legal advice and foster quality pro bono legal service on key issues for Nova Scotians living in poverty, the working poor, non-profit organizations and others facing barriers in gaining access to justice.

Objectives
  • To create a single place where Nova Scotians can find pro bono services for their legal problems

  • To create various ways for Nova Scotians to gain access to legal pro bono services

  • To partner with organizations already providing pro bono legal services throughout Nova Scotia

  • To educate the Nova Scotia legal community about pro bono opportunities and their benefits

  • To engage and provide opportunities for the legal community in Nova Scotia to participate in delivering pro bono services

  • To raise general public awareness about pro bono legal services"

  • [READ MORE]

    Sunday, December 8, 2013

    Groundbreaking Ontario Human Rights Special Education Decision

    Very interesting news here:

    For what appears to be the first time, a Human Rights Tribunal has applied the principles set out by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) in the recent human rights/special education case of  Moore v. British Columbia (Education) 2012 SCC 61 (Moore). You can find a discussion of the SCC decision here.

    The mother in RB v Keewatin-Patricia District School Board approached the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal following a series of incidents and failures to appropriately accommodate her child, who had been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Delay Not Otherwise Specified (“PDD NOS”). These incidents had repeatedly been raised by the parent and escalated to the School Board level without any resolution.

    Starting in Kindergarten, the child had been provided with an IEP (aka IPP) and Educational Assistant (EA) support. However, his EA support was cut quite significantly in Grade 2, despite the parent's objections. There were also allegations that the child's EA was being inappropriately forceful with him. Issues continued throughout Grade 3, including segregation in and outside of the classroom and teasing and bullying by other students. Not surprisingly, behaviour issues intensified.

    Eventually the child was "excluded" (presumably suspended) from school by the Principal for inappropriate behaviour, including swearing, using profanity, spitting, yelling, cutting a child’s sweater, stomping on a child’s leg, throwing material and being generally non-compliant. The parent was advised that he could not return to school until a psychological assessment was completed by the Board's school psychologist and the Board was confident that his return would not compromise his or other students' physical and mental well-being.

    During this time, he was provided with instruction from an itinerant teacher three hours per week. The parent supplemented this instruction and due to her good rapport with the itinerant teacher, the child made significant academic gains, going from reading at level 2 when he was "excluded" to level 7 four months later.

    But in an interesting twist, not only had the child been *excluded* from school for several months in Grade 3, but the mother had also withdrawn him from school the previous year for a period of time. Get the picture?

    I would like to say that such fact situations are rare. Sadly, you and I both know they aren't. In fact, I can think of three very similar situations right here in Nova Scotia, without even giving the matter much thought. The difference, sadly for us in Nova Scotia, is in how the local situations ended.

    At any rate, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal found several failures to accommodate the student, including

    Thursday, December 5, 2013

    A Primer on ... Guardianship

    While collecting links for that last post, I came across an interesting collection (the majority of them new) of legal websites that actually discuss adult guardianship in Nova Scotia.

    That was quite surprising given that the last time I checked (admittedly maybe six to twelve months ago), there appeared to be a distinct lack of helpful sites on the subject. Lots to be found on child guardianship in Nova Scoita, to be sure; but not so much on adult guardianship.

    At any rate, nice person that I am, I thought I might share these sites with you. So here goes:
    • Guardianship of Adults (Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia) -
      It's nice to see that the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia has finally completed the adult guardianship section on their site. The page answers the most basic burning questions, such as:
      What is guardianship? 
      Who is an incompetent person? 
      Who can be a guardian? 
      How is a guardian appointed? 
      Are there protections if the guardian fails in their duties? 
      What are the responsibilities of a guardian? 
      What is included in an inventory? 
      How does a guardianship end? 
      What does a guardianship application cost? 
      Are their alternatives to guardianship? 
      It also provides a list of places where one can go to get more information on the subject. Given that online information is only as good as its source I would highly recommend the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia's site.
    • Guardianship of Adults (Taylor MacLellan Cochrane)- A word of caution with this one: although I included it because it sets out a lot of important and related information in an easy-to-read manner, it is a little out of date.
      Meaning it would be best to tread carefully (and carry a big stick) through the material under the heading "Court Hearings" on p.4 (you will see it refers to there being two separate court hearings (this is no longer the case  - basically, we just start with the "second hearing" - there is no "first hearing" anymore) and amount set out as "Lawyer's Fees" on p. 6 (fees have obviously increased significantly since the making of this document).
      However, other than those two things, it looks like it would be well worth your time.
      Note to Taylor MacLellan Cochrane: You really need to update the material on your website.
    So lots of good information there, to be sure, if you have the desire need to learn more about how guardianship works in this Province.

    Of course, there is another great source of information available online on guardianship in Nova Scotia made available by yours truly. I just wouldn't want you to forget. '-)

    Sunday, December 1, 2013

    Decisions About Health and Personal Care: What does it take to be legally capable?

    For those interested concerned with issues around "consent" (and that should be all of us), might I suggest the recent presentation given by Professor Sheila Wildeman, a law professor at the Schullich School of Law (aka Dalhousie Law School).

    Prof. Wildeman has a deep understanding of the issues involved under the Incompetent Persons Act and other relevant legislation in Nova Scotia. Beginning with the now well-known story of Jenny Hatch (the young American woman with Down Syndrome who successfully fought her parents' guardianship application), Professor Wildeman goes on to examine the current state of the law surrounding "legal capacity" in Nova Scotia in regards to guardianship and health and personal care decisions.

    But she doesn't just offer a useful tour through the current state of the law - Professor Wildeman does an excellent job of setting out the fundamental values that are at stake here and explaining the differences between substitute decision-making regimes (such as guardianship) and supported decision-making (one of the newest buzz terms in the disability community).

    Yes, the lecture is lengthy but I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to get a real grasp on these issues. Because, really, without a firm grasp on these issues, how we can expect to advocate effectively for ourselves and our loved ones?





    On a related note, I present to you ARCH's analysis of the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision in Cuthbertson v. Rasouli, 2013 SCC 53.

    In Cuthberton, the SCC was asked to examine the process that the law requires when an incapable person is unable to provide consent or refusal in situations involving life support.  Decided under Ontario's Health Care Consent Act, the Court concluded that “treatment” under this Act extended to withdrawal of life support, contrary to the arguments of the doctors.