"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

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

'Here To Help'

As part of Nova Scotia Legal Aid's (NSLA) current Strategic Direction ("Here to Help'), a new website has been launched. The idea is that some level of help is now available to all Nova Scotians in core areas of Family, Criminal and Social Justice.

I was at a Pro Bono Symposium last week in which this was touched upon and a few interesting points were made:
  1. the income limit under which a family/individual must fall in order to qualify for Legal Aid has risen; and
  2. for those who would still not qualify financially, service may be provided if the person "makes a [financial] contribution towards the payment of the costs of the legal services rendered".
In addition, no matter your income level, NSLA Offices are now providing summary advice service in relation to issues in relation to Canada Pension Disability, Employment Insurance, Income Assistance and Residential Tenancies issues.

Although individuals can contact their local office to make application for such summary advice, "Clinics" are now being offered across the Province*, such as 
  •      walk-in clinics the third Friday of every month in Yarmouth with respect to Landlord/Tenant Disputes, Canada Pension Plan Applications and Appeals, Social Assistance Appeals, Housing & Low Income Housing or Grant Applications, and Employment Insurance Appeals. The initiative is aimed at giving advice to people in the Yarmouth coverage area who simply need a few questions answered with respect to a legal issue but cannot wait 3-4 weeks for an appointment;
  •      questions or problems with CPP Disability, Income Assistance, Employment Insurance, Housing Grants, Landlord/Tenant relationships and Child Protection matters can be answered at the Spryfield Legal Aid Office on the first, second and fourth Tuesdays of the month; 
  •     similar initiatives are being offered in Eastern Chebucto and Sydney; and
  •     the NSLA Youth Justice Office is providing youth social justice service (school/school board issues, Department of Community Services and youth ombudsman assistance, Protection of Property Act concerns, housing and income security or any area in which a youth thinks NSLA can help with information, advocacy or representation) in both Spryfield and at Chebucto Connections on the third Tuesday of every month. Importantly, there is no financial qualification for youth summary advice so anyone aged 12 to 18 is welcome to stop by. 
I highly recommend checking out the new NSLA website, including the "Communtiy Resources" tab. And, of course, lest we forget, Dalhousie also offers Legal Aid services. 

* More details on all these clinics (including times and how to confirm an appointment) can be found on the website. 

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