Examining the Need for Access to Justice for Low-Income Residents of Lennox & Addington County

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1 Community Legal Needs Assessment Examining the Need for Access to Justice for Low-Income Residents of Lennox & Addington County Prepared by: Michele Leering Executive Director Hastings and Prince Edward Legal Services 158 George Street Belleville ON K8N 3H2 Date: December, 2001

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE Acknowledgements Report Summary vi vii Part I Introduction to the Project 1 (1) Background to the Study 1 Legal Aid Ontario and Legal Clinic Expansion 1 Legal Clinics Participating in the Study 2 Getting the Community Involved in the Study 3 Purpose and Objectives of the Study 3 Approach Taken to the Study 3 Geographic Area Covered by the Study 4 (2) Research Design and Methodology 4 Preparing to Collect Qualitative Data 4 Participation in the Qualitative Study 5 Collecting Quantitative Data 6 Examining Qualitative and Quantitative Data 7 Part II Findings of the Research 8 (1) Qualitative Findings 8 (i) Perceptions of the Community 8 Geography and Demographics 8 Reasons for Poverty 9 Trends and Challenges 9 (ii) Perceptions of Legal Issues and Needs 9 Income Maintenance Programs 9 Social Assistance 9 - Ontario Works (OW) 9 - Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSPA) 11 Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) 13 Employment Insurance (EI) 13 Canada Pension Plan (CPP) 14 Child Tax Benefit 14 Old Age Security 14 Priorities with Respect to Income Maintenance Issues 14 Employment 14 Housing 16 Family Law 18 i

3 (ii) Perceptions of Legal Issues and Needs (continued) PAGE Disability and Mental Health 21 Immigrant, Refugee, and Aboriginal Law 22 Being in Trouble with the Law 22 Consumer/Debt 23 Personal Injuries 24 (iii) Perceptions of Barriers to Accessing Justice 25 Lack of Information and Legal Rights and Resources 25 Inability to Access Information 25 Lack of Advocacy Resources 26 Lack of Systemic Approach to Problems 27 (iv) Perceptions of How Services should be Delivered 27 How and What Type 27 Where 27 Willingness to Travel for Services 28 Feedback on Advocacy Services Available 28 Feedback on Current Legal Aid Ontario Funded and other Government Funded Initiatives 29 Best Way to Inform about Services 30 Special Needs of the Client Community 31 (2) Quantitative Findings 31 (i) Demographic Information 31 Overall Population Figures 31 People Living Below the Poverty Line 33 Language and Literacy 33 Place of Birth, Immigration, and Citizenship 34 Ethnic and Aboriginal Origins 34 Family Status 34 Education 34 Employment and Unemployment 34 Participation and Employment Rates and Earnings 34 Level and Sources of Income 35 Unattached Individuals 35 Families 35 Low-Income Tenants 35 Current Rental Market Data 37 The Disabled 37 (ii) Level of Potential Need for Representation 38 Demographic Data Income Maintenance Program Sources 38 Ontario Works 38 ii

4 (ii) Level of Potential Need for Representation (continued) PAGE Ontario Disability Support Program 38 Employment Insurance Claims 39 Workplace Safety and Insurance Board 39 Canada Pension Plan Disability 39 Old Age Security 39 Level of Tribunal Activity 39 Social Benefits Tribunal Appeals (SBT) 40 - Ontario Works Act 40 - Ontario Disability Support Program Act 40 Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal (ORHT) 40 Employment Insurance Board of Referees and Umpire 41 Canada Pension Plan Review Tribunal and Pensions Appeals Board 41 Level of Court Activity 41 Small Claims Court Disputes 41 Current Legal Aid Ontario Funded Service Activity 41 Community Legal Clinics and Student Legal Aid 41 - Statistics 41 - Legal Issues arising from Services 42 LAO Lennox & Addington Area Office Napanee 43 Legal Aid Certificate Statistics 44 Legal Aid Ontario Advice Lawyer 44 Family Law Duty Counsel 44 Criminal Law Duty Counsel 45 Other Access to Justice Related Activity 45 Family Law Information Centre 45 Ministry of Labour Employment Standards Branch 45 Ombudsman s Office 45 Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing Enforcement Branch 45 Office of the Worker Advisor 45 Ontario Human Rights Commission 46 (3) Other Information Collected 46 (i) Review of Other Studies of Lennox & Addington County 46 (ii) Distances to Potential Service Delivery Locations 47 (iii) Distances within Coverage Area of Lennox & Addington County 47 (iv) Availability of Internet Connections and Telephones 47 (v) Legal Clinic Willingness to Serve Lennox & Addington County 48 iii

5 PAGE Part III Conclusions and Recommendations 49 (1) Findings Emerging from the Research 49 (i) Met and Unmet Legal Needs 49 (ii) Special Challenges in Service Delivery 49 (iii) Other Barriers to Accessing Justice 50 (2) Recommended Best Practices 50 (i) What Services or Service Enhancements are Needed? 50 (ii) What Legal Issues and Needs should have Priority if Resources are Limited? 50 (iii) Who Should Provide Clinic Law Services? 51 (iv) From Where Should Services be Provided? 52 (v) What Mix of Clinic Law Services are Needed? 52 (3) Next Steps 53 (4) Observations and Limitations of the Study 54 (i) Qualitative Data 54 (ii) Quantitative Data 55 (iii) Carrying out the Study 55 (iv) Useful Spin-offs of the Study 56 Appendices I Map of Lennox & Addington County II Sample Consent Form III Organization Information Sheet IV Short Answer Questionnaire V Open-ended/Long Questionnaire VI A Profile of Lennox & Addington: Legal Aid Ontario, July, 2001 VII LAO memo dated June 22, 2001 from Angela Longo, President/CEO, regarding LAO coverage adjustments VIII LAO memo dated February 24, 2000 from R. Keith Wilkins regarding FLIC Advice Lawyers IX Access to Justice Providers Available to Residents of Lennox & Addington County X What is the Difference Between a Legal Clinic and Legal Aid? iv

6 Appendices (continued) XI XII XIII Social Benefits Tribunal Statistics Excerpt from FOCUS ON TRAINING: Report and Recommendations on Training and Adjustment Services for ECOTB Region 1999/00 Napanee LAO Area Office Non-certificate Services v

7 Acknowledgments I would like to thank the members of the Local Needs Assessment Advisory Committee, the team of needs assessors, and the many people who volunteered their time, energy, and insight to participate in this study. This report would not have been possible or very useful without their assistance. The Local Needs Assessment Advisory Committee included: Will Cybulski, Kim Strickland, Janet Barry, on behalf of Leona Dombrowsky, MPP; Tammy Nugent, Interval House; Virginia Bartley and Susan Charlesworth, Review Counsel at Queen s Legal Aid; Susan Irwin, Executive Director and lawyer with Rural Legal Services; Joyce Bigelow, Chairperson of the Board of Rural Legal Services; Ruth James Morrow, Board Chairperson, and Brett Mann and Ivar Heissler, Board Members of Hastings and Prince Edward Legal Services. This report was written by Michele Leering, Executive Director and lawyer with Hastings and Prince Edward Legal Services, with the assistance of a committed group of individuals who formed the needs assessment team. Special thanks to Susan Irwin of Rural Legal Services; Waikwa Wanyoake and Mike Bozic of Queen s Student Legal Aid; and Deirdre McDade, lawyer, and Julie Rickard, administrative assistant, with Hastings and Prince Edward Legal Services. Contact information for legal clinics which worked collaboratively on this study is as follows: Hastings and Prince Edward Legal Services 158 George Street Belleville, ON K8N 3H (613) F: (613) Rural Legal Services PO Box 359 Sharbot Lake, ON K0H 2P (613) F: (613) Queen's Legal Aid MacDonald Hall Queen's University Kingston, ON K7L 3N6 (613) F: (613) vi

8 Report Summary Legal clinic staff employing a community action research model met with a broad crosssection of residents and service providers to learn more about the unique legal needs and challenges facing people living on a low income in Lennox & Addington County. Additionally, a great deal of statistical information was collected and analysed to create a profile of the low-income community and the level of potential need for legal clinic services. Through synthesis and interpretation of the data, a disturbing picture emerged. Lennox & Addington County has a large population of people living on a low income who have little awareness of their legal rights and obligations, are often misinformed about those rights, have few accessible resources to assist in problem-solving or advocacy, and have little or no energy to stand up for their rights. The depth of need portrayed by the research participants observations is disconcerting. While legal clinics must clearly place priority on meeting the legal needs of people living on a low income which will keep food on their tables and a roof over their heads, there are other unmet legal needs documented by this study. The study calls for a comprehensive approach to meeting legal needs which will require a vision of what access to justice should mean for this vulnerable, low-income population. In addition to meeting individual needs for advice, assistance, and representation, a systemic advocacy approach is imperative to make the greatest difference in the least amount of time. It will be necessary to build on the evident good faith, intentions, and willingness of other service providers who share similar mandates and vision regarding the need for positive and progressive changes to improve the lives of the people they serve. There are significant differences and serious transportation difficulties between communities in northern and southern Lennox & Addington County, sufficient to justify two satellite office locations and service delivery by two different and willing community legal clinics. Limited clinic resources could be supplemented by other initiatives funded by Legal Aid Ontario and should also be supplemented by the existing intake clinic offered by volunteer Queen's University law students in Napanee. The commitment of the local Legal Aid Ontario Area Office staff to improve access to justice in Lennox & Addington County will allow for innovative approaches to be developed to meet both unmet clinic and non-clinic law needs. Through carrying out this study, the researchers began to lay the groundwork for working collaboratively and constructively with other access to justice providers. In the future, this will allow providers to make the best use of limited resources while having the greatest impact on what this report shows to be an overwhelming need for improved access to justice. While the challenges are great, the possibilities in the community are encouraging. Legal Aid Ontario, as part of its commitment to the geographic expansion of the legal clinic system, funded this unprecedented, detailed study of the legal needs of low-income residents of Lennox & Addington County. This study was carried out with the advice and assistance of a local advisory committee. Legal Aid Ontario and legal clinics in adjoining counties will use the findings of this report to set priorities and directions for the expansion of clinic law services into Lennox & Addington County over the next few years. As funding for the expansion is limited, this report sets out possible priorities for service delivery and best practices that could be used to maximize resources. vii

9 Part I - Introduction to the Project (1) Background to the Study Legal Aid Ontario and Legal Clinic Expansion Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is an independent agency established under the Legal Aid Services Act. LAO s mandate is to provide access to justice to low-income people in Ontario. LAO replaced the former Ontario Legal Aid Plan in LAO mainly provides funding for legal aid certificates and community legal clinics. Legal aid certificates are issued to members of the private bar to provide legal services traditionally in criminal, immigration, and family law areas, as well as other areas of law not practised by community legal clinics. Legal aid certificates are applied for at Area Offices and are issued by Area Directors and staff in accordance with provincial guidelines. Legal clinics characteristically provide poverty law 1 services, which are now being called clinic law. 2 Legal clinics are generally non-profit corporations governed by Boards of Directors elected from the community they serve. Clinics employ staff lawyers and community legal workers to carry out legal work. Over the past 30 years, legal clinics have been established in communities across Ontario. Legal clinics are either based in a particular geographic community or provide services to a special community of interest. 3 Fourteen communities have never received funding to establish legal clinics. Lennox & Addington County (L&A) is one of the communities without an official legal clinic. 4 Currently, some legal services are offered voluntarily by Queen s Legal Aid and community legal clinics based in Kingston, Sharbot Lake, and Belleville. Additionally, the Correctional Law Project at Queen s University, a specialty clinic funded by LAO, offers prison law services to inmates at the Millhaven and Bath federal prisons located in Lennox & Addington County. In 1996/97, an independent review of the former Ontario Legal Aid Plan recommended the expansion of clinic law services across Ontario to provide full geographic coverage 5. When LAO accepted this recommendation, the Board of Directors and staff of community legal clinics encouraged LAO to initiate needs assessments prior to opening new clinics. A provincial committee developed a needs assessment process and a tool kit. 6 1 The term 'poverty law' describes the broad areas of law and legal needs which arise by virtue of an individual s or a group s poverty In general, the legal needs of the poor have traditionally included housing law; income maintenance law (including employment insurance, the Canada Pension Plan, welfare, family benefits, and workers compensation); work-related issues (including employment standards and occupational health and safety); and consumer and debt problems. Poverty Law Legal Aid Services (Chapter 11) in the Report of the Ontario Legal Aid Review: a blueprint for publicly funded legal services, Ontario Legal Aid Review, August, 1997, p Legal Aid Services Act, 1998, S.O. 1998, c. 26, s. 2 defines clinic law specifically as the areas of law which particularly affect low-income individuals or disadvantaged communities, including legal matters related to housing and shelter, income maintenance, social assistance and other similar government programs, and to human rights, health, employment, and education. 3 Specialty clinics exist with province-wide mandates, for example, to serve seniors (Advocacy Centre for the Elderly), youth (Justice for Children and Youth), the environment (CELA), the handicapped (Advocacy Centre for the Handicapped), etc. 4 Approximately 12 years ago, a group of community members in L&A County met to try to prepare a funding application for an independent community legal clinic. Representatives from the LAO Area Office, Kingston Community Legal Clinic, QLA, and HPELS met with interested social service agencies over an extended period. Statistics were gathered and the application process began. Shortly thereafter, it became apparent that funding for new clinics would not be available. As a result, the initial group disbanded. In 1999, RLS prepared a funding proposal to serve residents of northern L&A County. In 2000, at the request of LAO, HPELS prepared a preliminary proposal to serve L&A County. 5 ibid, Recommendation 11, p The provincial Needs Assessment Advisory Committee included four community legal clinic Executive Directors, including the author of this report, the LAO Area Director from Brockville, and an LAO policy analyst. 1

10 The process was designed to assist legal clinic staff and Boards to: Understand the new community and its legal needs, both met and unmet Introduce legal clinic services to the new community Identify available community resources and services Identify potentially interested community people to represent the interests of the new community on the existing Boards In the spring of 2001, Legal Aid Ontario provided funding to conduct a study of the legal needs of low-income residents of L&A County. Queen s Legal Aid, Rural Legal Services, and Hastings and Prince Edward Legal Services provided staff time to carry out the study. The study began in May, 2001 and was carried out collaboratively by the three clinics. Legal Clinics Participating in the Study Queen s Legal Aid (QLA) is a legal aid clinic offering free legal advice and representation with the help of law students. Two lawyers/review Counsel employed by Queen s Law School at Queen s University supervise a summer staff of 12 law students and 80 volunteer law students during the school year. Services are offered to low-income residents of the City of Kingston, the Township of South Frontenac, and southern Lennox & Addington County in many areas of clinic law and some areas of criminal law. Until recently, they have had to restrict their services to the months of January to March and May to August. 7 QLA operates a satellite intake clinic on Tuesday evenings from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. using donated space in the LAO Napanee Area Office. Rural Legal Services (RLS), based in Sharbot Lake, has a mandate to serve northern Frontenac County. In practice, the clinic also serves people living in Bedford Township in southern Frontenac County and has, for a number of years, offered more services to people living in the Tamworth Township area and Northbrook-Cloyne Townships corridor in northern L&A County. With a funded staff of three, the clinic specializes in serving nonurban populations. Due to the unique nature of northern Frontenac County and the difficulties in accessing legal services in distant urban centres, they practise more than just clinic law. Hastings and Prince Edward Legal Services (HPELS) has a main office in the City of Belleville and has a mandate to serve all of Hastings and Prince Edward Counties. The clinic operates satellite offices in Centre Hastings (Madoc), North Hastings (Bancroft), and in Prince Edward County (Picton). Over the past twenty-one years, the clinic has offered a broad range of services in many areas of the law but has confined its services to traditional clinic law over the past fifteen years. With a funded staff of eight, the clinic provides information, advice, and representation to individuals; a tenant advice warm line ; and puts special emphasis on community development and law reform projects. When it became apparent early in 2001 that LAO would fund an expansion of the legal clinic system, we recruited a Local Needs Assessment Advisory Committee to help carry out a needs assessment process. LAO made it clear that they did not intend, and could not afford, to fund a full, independent community legal clinic in L&A County, but that services should be provided by a clinic from an adjoining county. Hastings and Prince Edward Legal Services and Rural Legal Services agreed to provide clinic law services, contingent on the results of a comprehensive needs assessment process, a strategic planning exercise, and the level of available funding. It was envisioned that HPELS might cover the needs of 7 The clinic has recently received funding for an articling student so will now be able to offer services all year. 2

11 residents in the southern portion of L&A County and RLS would enhance their coverage of the needs of northern L&A County residents. QLA would continue to enhance its current services offered from Napanee. Getting the Community Involved in the Study The Local Needs Assessment Advisory Committee guided the needs assessment process. Community representatives included (in alphabetical order) Janet Barry, Will Cybulski, Tammy Nugent, and Kim Strickland. Committee members have met monthly since April, 2001 with Board and staff members of HPELS and RLS and the Review Counsel from Queen s University. In addition to providing the necessary guidance for this process, committee members have agreed to advise on the strategic planning process that will follow the issue of this report. Purpose and Objectives of the Study The main purpose of this study was to learn more about people living on a low income in Lennox & Addington County and their legal needs. Legal needs are broadly defined and include issues, problems, and concerns arising from laws, lack of laws, or the enforcement of those laws. One objective of the study was to determine which legal needs were being met, which legal needs remained unmet, and which of these needs might have greater importance than others. Although a community legal clinic would likely only provide clinic law services, the study was designed to determine what other access to justice 8 needs exist which are not being met through legal aid certificates and other legal aid initiatives. This study needs to answer the question: What legal services or service enhancements are needed in Lennox & Addington County? Another objective was to provide sufficient data about the new community so that Boards at RLS and HPELS and QLA could make informed decisions about how future legal clinic services could be delivered in a manner responsive to that community s perceived and documented needs. Keeping in mind that clinic law services are delivered in a variety of non-traditional ways 9, the Boards needed information to answer the question: How should legal services be delivered? Approach Taken to the Study In order to assess the level of need in L&A County, we decided to use both qualitative and quantitative methods to gather information. Qualitative research allows for learning about the felt experience, the texture, the dynamics, highlights, and concerns, and the way 8 LAO s mandate includes to promote access to justice throughout Ontario for low-income individuals by providing high quality legal aid services. Access to justice is a nebulous concept but an attractive slogan or symbol. The term is used in this report in the sense of providing information about and access to laws and legal processes to encourage the use of the legal system by low-income people. 9 In addition to providing advice and information to people living on a low income and providing representation before Tribunals and Courts, clinic staff provide community development and law reform services. Priorities between individual casework and community development and law reform activities are usually set annually by the Boards of clinics. Community development services include general outreach about clinic work and law, public legal education in its various forms (pamphlets, community forums, radio broadcasts, newspaper articles, etc.), and community organizing (examples include organizing tenants associations or anti-poverty associations, participating in task forces on topics like hunger or homelessness, and providing support to fledgling groups like injured workers associations). Law reform activities are designed to improve the legal welfare of the community and include preparing briefs, participating in coalitions with others trying to advocate for more just laws for people living on a low income, and undertaking test case litigation such as the recent case challenging the definition of spouse under social assistance laws. 3

12 people understand their own reality. 10 Following a great deal of study and consultation with a needs assessment specialist, we felt an action research model was the best way to obtain qualitative information about the community. This model was selected because it is community-based and participatory. As a research model, its objective is not only to gather information but also to involve the community in the process. Most of our efforts were focussed on gathering and analyzing this qualitative data. Locating quantitative information about L&A County was a large undertaking. LAO retained a consultant to provide us with a statistical profile of L&A County based on 1996 census data and other, more current sources. The profile is included as an Appendix VI to this report. We also obtained additional information about the community and the potential level of need, which is described below. Geographic Area Covered by the Study Lennox & Addington County is situated between Hastings County on the west and Frontenac County on the east. Its southern border is Lake Ontario and includes Amherst Island. Its northern border is just above the Village of Denbigh, where it adjoins Renfrew County. The County is long and narrow and is traversed in a north-south direction by Provincial Highway 41 which begins in the Town of Greater Napanee. Highway 401 runs through the southern end of the County in an east-west direction. Highway 7 travels in an east-west direction in the top half of the County. Following municipal amalgamations, L&A County is made up of the Township of Addington Highlands in the north, the Township of Stone Mills in the middle, the Township of Loyalist in the southeastern corner, and the Town of Greater Napanee in the southwestern corner. The total area of L&A County is 2,841 square kilometres. (2) Research Design and Methodology Preparing to Collect Qualitative Data In order to learn as much as possible, we identified a representative sample of people and organizations in the community that might be able to share their knowledge about the community and the needs of people living on a low income. Members of our Local Needs Assessment Committee generated a list of 50 potential community informants. We understood that we should conduct 20 to 30 interviews in order to reach the saturation point and to have reliable data. We then reviewed our list and pared it down to a representative sample of individuals and organizations whose knowledge covered southern, central, and northern Lennox & Addington County. We prepared a letter introducing the project which we forwarded to all the community informants. We followed up by phone to set up interview times and to explain further about the project. We were successful in setting up interviews with all but one potential informant. 10 A Guide to Support Local Legal Clinic Staff to Conduct Needs Assessment Research in Presently Unserved Areas prepared March 30, 2001 by Shelley Cleverly in collaboration with NAAC members and LAO staff. 4

13 To conduct the interviews, we used questionnaires to collect the information we needed. Included as appendices to this report are: Open-ended questionnaire to identify what the legal needs were, whether the needs were being met, and how the unmet needs might best be met; Short answer questionnaire to ascertain where and how the services might be offered; and Organization information form for completion by interviewees so we could learn what services their agencies provided and who we might partner with to work towards common goals. In order to ensure full participation in the study, we promised each of the people we interviewed confidentiality. It is for this reason that we have not provided a listing of the people we actually interviewed. This is in keeping with the accepted ethical practices for the type of research we conducted. Each participant signed a consent form allowing us to use the information he/she provided for the limited purposes of this study. As there were five needs assessors conducting interviews, we organized a special training event to ensure consistency among all the needs assessors which took place in early June, We then began the interviews, usually working in teams of two. It took us about six weeks to schedule, conduct, and report on all the interviews. Most interviews took about hours to complete and were very comprehensive. A few interviews were abbreviated (but were still very informative) due to the participants' work commitments. A huge amount of data was generated by these interviews, and each needs assessor prepared a summary of the data and emerging trends. These summaries became the basis for the findings of this study. Participation in the Qualitative Study We interviewed more than 40 individuals and representatives of organizations. Broadly speaking, participation included people from the following sectors: Social and health services; Justice; Government; Advocacy and access to justice organizations; Low-income community members; and Religious institutions. A focus group was also established consisting of people living on a low income who might potentially require legal clinic services in the future. The focus group included seven women and six men. An extra step was added to provide community validation of the results once the findings of the interviews described above were compiled. This step was important to ensure that the synthesis and interpretation of the data were accurate from the community s perspective. In August, 2001, we met with the Local Needs Assessment Advisory Committee to review a draft summary of the findings. 5

14 Collecting Quantitative Data A consultant was retained by LAO to obtain statistical information from the 1996 Census of Canada, the Statistics Canada monthly Labour Force Survey, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation s annual survey. This information helped us to understand the demographics of L&A County and to whom we could expect to be providing services. It also provided us with an understanding of the potential level of need for our services. We sought additional information from a variety of sources to help us understand more about the potential new client community in need of our services. Recipients of government transfer payments and the working poor often need information, advice, and representation when they have disputes regarding these income sources. In fact, the laws setting out the rights to these income maintenance programs usually create the highest demand for clinic law services. In order to plan for anticipated demand, we attempted to gather statistics on the number of people receiving payments from: Ontario Works (formerly known as welfare or mother s allowance ); the Ontario Disability Support Program (formerly family benefits ); the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (formerly Workers Compensation Board ); and Employment Insurance (formerly Unemployment Insurance). We wished to examine statistics of tribunal sittings arising from appeals or applications filed by L&A County residents. Clinic staff traditionally represent or assist clients to represent themselves before the: Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT which replaced the former Social Assistance Review Board); Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal (ORHT); Board of Referees and the Umpire in Employment Insurance matters; and Review Tribunal and Pension Appeals Board in Canada Pension Plan disputes. We also thought it would be informative to look at the number of disputes handled by the Small Claims Court and how often they sat. Since QLA, RLS, and HPELS currently provide some minimum and discretionary services to low-income residents of L&A County, we decided to analyze our statistics to see what type of legal problems we were already seeing, even without having significantly advertised our services. 11 We wanted to look at the: Extent of demand and type of legal issues being addressed by the Advice Lawyer service provided by the LAO Area Office; Number of legal aid certificates issued by the Area Office and the type of issue; and Demand for Duty Counsel services in family and criminal law. 11 Kingston Community Legal Clinic currently provides service on a discretionary basis to Amherstview and Amherst Island but does not have reliable statistics on what requests for services are generated or provided by geographic area. 6

15 We felt it would be informative to know about other access to justice services and how much their services were being used. We attempted to gather information from the: Family Law Information Centre (provides referral and information services for people experiencing family law difficulties, including referrals to special Duty Counsel); Ministry of Labour - Employment Standards Branch (handles complaints about employer violations of the Employment Standards Act); Ombudsman s Office (handles complaints about provincial government matters); Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing Enforcement Branch (handles complaints about violations of the Tenant Protection Act by landlords); Office of the Worker Advisor (handles non-union employee appeals from decisions of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board); and Ontario Human Rights Commission. We felt it was important to examine a few other items more closely in order to provide special information regarding the service delivery challenges. This included a closer study of differences between the four municipalities that make up L&A County, travel distances for people who reside in L&A County between community centres and current legal clinic offices, and geographic coverage areas. This will assist the Boards of RLS and HPELS in determining how best to serve L&A County and the level of anticipated need for services. Examining Qualitative and Quantitative Data Presented below is a synthesis of all the information learned in the course of our interviews, research, and gathering of statistical information, presented as findings. First, we present the qualitative findings, followed by the quantitative findings. Then, we present a summary of the conclusions to be drawn from the data. We felt this was important in light of the amount of data we collected and the need for synthesis. Finally, based on what we learned by conducting this study, we present a list of what might be best practices for service delivery in L&A County. 7

16 Part II - Findings of the Research (1) Qualitative Findings These findings are based on the perceptions of the people we interviewed using the action research process previously described. They represent the opinions of people living in the community rather than those of the author of this report who has only transcribed or summarized these findings. (i) Perceptions of the Community Geography and Demographics Lennox & Addington County is long, narrow, and sparsely populated (outside urban areas). There are three distinct communities in L&A County including: Town of Greater Napanee Amherstview The North Most of the inhabitants live south of Highway 401 in the Greater Napanee or Amherstview area. This area is perceived to be more urban, although many people live in farming or former farming communities. The population outside the Town of Greater Napanee is predominantly rural. The population of Amherstview is disparate; it includes a large number of people who work in Kingston in higher paying jobs, a number of people living on a low income, and sole support families related to inmates of the federal institutions in Bath and Millhaven. Amherstview is perceived to be a bedroom community for Kingston. The loss of provincial civil service jobs due to government cutbacks had a significant impact on this community. There are many smaller and poorer communities north of Highway 401, particularly north of Highway 7. Five distinct rural communities in the north are centred around Flinton, Kaladar, Northbrook, Cloyne, and Denbigh. They are perceived to be remote and isolated, particularly in the winter. People in northern L&A County do not see Napanee and the area south of Highway 401 as part of their community. There is a great deal of poverty, yet they have little access to services and resources in Napanee. The north is perceived to be neglected and forgotten. Inhabitants travel to Renfrew, Ottawa, Northbrook, Kingston, and Belleville for services. Very little was said about central L&A County. The most common perception was of the unique nature and divergent communities of northern and southern L&A County. There is a large population of seniors spread throughout the County. 8

17 Reasons for Poverty Although the interviews were not designed to look in any depth at the reasons - systemic or individual - why people were living in poverty, participants were able to identify some factors that would contribute to poverty in the area. These included lack of employment opportunities within L&A County, low paying jobs, the seasonal and rural nature of most of the jobs available, lack of education, low literacy levels, and lack of affordable day care. In all areas, lack of transportation is seen as contributing to poverty. In the northern area, isolation contributes to poverty. Trends and Challenges Lack of available and affordable transportation was cited again and again as a major challenge for people living on a low income, even within the Town of Greater Napanee. The north is seen to be a big time retirement area. However, young people who move away from the north often return because they cannot hack the cities. Literacy levels present special challenges. New educational opportunities are being developed in L&A County. Additionally, new social and health services are slowly coming into the community. A prevalent attitude appears to be of acceptance - that s just the way things are. At the same time, there is a reluctance to embrace change. Family ties are very strong. (ii) Perceptions of Legal Issues and Needs Income Maintenance Programs Problems were identified in a number of areas including: Ontario Works (OW); Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSPA); Employment income (see discussion under Work in next section); Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB); Employment Insurance (EI); Canada Pension Plan Disability Pensions (CPP); and Child Tax Benefit (CTB) and Old Age Security (OAS). Social Assistance Ontario Works As there are few employment opportunities in the area, many jobs are part-time or seasonal and often pay only the minimum wage of $6.85 per hour. This results in a high dependence on social assistance benefits, particularly Ontario Works (formerly Welfare ). 9

18 The Prince Edward-Lennox & Addington Social Services Department provides Ontario Works. The Department provides services under the Ontario Works Act to residents of both Lennox & Addington and Prince Edward Counties (the Department also provides social housing, which has been recently downloaded, and childcare services). Participants described many problems with the delivery of Ontario Works including: Improper withholding of Ontario Works cheques; Being disqualified improperly for allegedly having quit or having been fired from a job in circumstances that should not have led to this conclusion; Denials of mandatory special benefits such as the Employment Start-up or Community Start-up benefits; Excessive or inappropriate participation agreement requirements, including the level of job searches required or returning to work in spite of medical restrictions or reservations; Requiring people with disabilities to attend workshops, even if they are unable to and cannot benefit from the content, and threatening them with being cut off if they do not attend; Requiring parents of preschoolers to sign participation agreements and to perform "workfare"; Treatment of 16 and 17 years olds when they apply for Ontario Works in particular, inadequate investigation of their circumstances; Failure of Departmental staff to exercise their discretion in appropriate cases to provide assistance or benefits to people in need; Repeated instances of failure to follow provincial law, regulations, and policies regarding Ontario Works; Operating under a different set of rules from Belleville or Kingston ; Failing to accommodate clients with disabilities, i.e. providing assistance in completing paperwork for assistance (such as Community Start-up benefits); Failure to inform Ontario Works recipients of their rights to benefits for limited dental work, eye glasses, hydro arrears, and medical transportation; Lack of awareness that adverse decisions by the Social Services Department can be and often should be internally reviewed or appealed; Failure to provide written notice, as required by law, of all adverse decisions (i.e. not entitled to benefits, cut off benefits, benefits suspended, no eligibility for special benefits such as Community Start-up); Written decisions, when received, are often not in plain language and are unclear; Difficulty having decisions overturned at the internal review stage even if a recipient s case has merit; Refusal to directly refer recipients who are being denied or cut off assistance for the free legal advice available to them from QLA, RLS, or HPELS; and Use of a snitch line to report suspected welfare fraud (it is reported to be a disruptive influence in the low-income community and is profoundly isolating, having caused fear, suspicion, uncertainty, and ill will). Many reported a fear of raising issues or concerns directly with the Social Services Department for fear of retribution. As a result, they simply let it go because it s just the way it is, and the perception exists that there is nothing to be done about it. They feel beaten down ; it is beyond their control and they do not feel empowered. They have no fight left. People are unable to do their own advocacy or resolve disputes with the Ontario Works office. One participant remarked, what people [Ontario Works staff] say with conviction, others believe. 10

19 A great deal of stigma is attached to those receiving social assistance. The Department is regarded by many as unfriendly. Remarks from caseworkers such as if you can t keep appointments, you should not have children were reported. Many participants reported great difficulty in reaching their workers. The stress of living from day to day consumes most of their energy. There is a fear that new Ontario Works initiatives will exclude many deserving people from receiving social assistance. There were also problems identified with the Ontario Works Act and Regulations which would require law reform efforts including: The living with parents rule; Mandatory drug testing; Mandatory special necessities; Excessive regulation of the lives of recipients; and Deferrals from community participation agreements while ODSPA appeals are pending. Access to Information and Advocacy Services In L&A County as a whole, there is a lack of information regarding social assistance and other income maintenance programs. People have no idea where to turn for help and most often do nothing. Sometimes they turn to friends and relatives for help. Many request help from their Provincial Member of Parliament s constituency office (MPP Leona Dombrowsky). Although QLA has offered assistance in addressing Ontario Works issues in southern L&A County, this was not broadly known. Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSPA) The Ministry of Community & Social Services administers ODSPA. The local office responsible for program delivery is located in Belleville; it provides service to persons receiving ODSPA allowances who reside in the tri-county area of Hastings, Prince Edward and Lennox & Addington Counties. Determination whether a person is disabled is made by the Disability Adjudication Unit (DAU) which is centralized in Toronto. Applications to the provincial government for disability pensions under ODSPA are often turned down by the DAU. Some service providers reported that almost all their clients were turned down on their initial application. Before people became aware that they could appeal these negative decisions, they often just gathered more information and then sent in a second application. This meant the loss of significant retroactive income, had they been accepted on their first application. Overall, there was a perception that many people do not even apply for pensions because they are not aware of them. Other issues reported included: Frequent denials of the special emergency home repairs benefit for disabled people in spite of supporting reports from building inspectors and health inspectors; Denials of Community Start-up benefits; Recipients not being informed of their rights to the cost of transportation to medical and other treatment appointments, and the benefits listed above; Overly restrictive criteria for the transportation allowance (not justified in law); 11

20 Failure to pay for necessary medical items; Lack of understanding of how the Supports to Employment Program (STEP) works and a consequent fear of taking on any employment and being penalized; Slow processing of disability applications, including after the Disability Adjudication Unit has decided an applicant is eligible; there is an excessive wait (three to four months) before an allowance is paid; Failure to treat a person with an addiction as a person with a disability under the law; and Restrictions on who can complete the Activities of Daily Living and Health Status Reports that form part of the application process, thus important information about substantial restrictions and substantial impairments is missed when cases are assessed. Great difficulty is experienced with the paperwork required for social assistance. The rules and the paperwork are becoming too convoluted. This problem is compounded by high illiteracy rates in L&A County. One participant reported a delay in filing their application because they did not know what to do with the Self-Report form. No one had told them that they did not need to complete that report. They could not have completed it without assistance due to lack of writing skills. Even if they had completed the report, it would have been unlikely to help their application since the DAU did not appear willing to consider Self- Reports. A frequently raised issue was the lack of access to staff at the Ministry of Community & Social Services office who administer ODSPA. ODSPA recipients are told they must travel to Belleville to meet with Ministry staff. Although this problem is serious in the Napanee area, where staff sometimes meet with clients who need to speak to them, it is even more severe in the north. People with disabilities, living on a low income, who do not drive or cannot afford to drive their own vehicles, face huge barriers to accessing services. 12 Many reported they were not kept properly informed when the provincial government discontinued the Family Benefits Allowance for Disabled People and replaced it with the ODSPA in Family Benefits recipients were grandfathered onto ODSPA, but the changes were poorly explained. Furthermore, many felt it inappropriate that Ministry of Community & Social Service staff were not available to assist disabled people newly applying for ODSPA. Many people did not and still do not understand the new ODSPA even though it was implemented three years ago. Social service providers were frustrated by the lack of information provided to them about both the new process and the new law. Access to Information and Advocacy Services All stressed the difficulty of getting information about these social assistance programs and the lack of knowledge about appeal rights. They felt no legal help was available and that local lawyers did not do this kind of work. Although legal aid certificates are available and QLA offers representation and assistance in these cases in southern L&A County, many were not aware of this. 12 This issue has been raised to Ministry staff, as it appears to be a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code which requires accommodation of disability when services are provided. 12

21 Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) Although most participants were not aware of issues in this area, one participant reported a high level of need for advocacy, being personally aware of at least fourteen instances (over a two-year period) where injured workers required legal help. Issues included: Denial of benefits; Disagreement with non-economic loss and future economic loss awards; and Appeal of labour market re-entry plans. Access to Information and Advocacy Services Although some injured workers can be referred to the free services of the Office of the Worker Advisor for assistance, many unionized workers report they are not allowed to use the services even if they are not receiving adequate help from their union. For others, it has been perceived that there is a long waiting list to get help. The Office of the Worker Advisor has a toll-free telephone number; advice and information is available by telephone. Staff are based in Ottawa but travel to communities. Legal aid certificates should be available for this type of work, but one participant reported at least two cases where legal aid assistance was denied. Some concerns were expressed about the quality of representation and cost of advocates representing injured workers on a fee for service basis. Employment Insurance (EI) Human Resources Development Canada administers EI. The greatest problem identified here was the impossibility of qualifying for EI due to legislative changes in recent years. These have increased the number of hours that must be worked in order to qualify and created other restrictions on eligibility. This has had a significant impact on people living in L&A County, particularly because so much of the work is seasonal in nature. There have also been problems with employers trying to avoid paying insurance premiums by maintaining the people working for them are self-employed or independent contractors. It appears that some people being denied benefits may not be exercising their right to appeal because Human Resources Development Canada staff call people who are being denied, in selected types of cases, to explain why they do not have a legal case meriting an appeal. They are not referred for independent legal advice. Access to Information and Advocacy Services Although legal aid certificates are available and, in southern L&A County, QLA currently offers representation in these cases, no one seemed aware of this. Referrals are not being made for legal advice even when people are being denied benefits. The HRDC office in Napanee no longer has a toll-free number. 13

22 Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Some participants did not understand the importance of getting legal advice when CPP benefits were denied. Denials were not seen to be a legal issue but rather a medical one. One participant reported that he could not understand the negative decision letter received due to a lack of reading ability, did not know what to do about it, and therefore he did not appeal. Access to Information and Advocacy Services One participant had been working on her own case that involved potential discrimination under the Charter of Rights and contributory requirements for CPP. Although her Member of Parliament s office was of assistance to her, she had nowhere to turn for legal advice on how to challenge the law or how to lobby for change. Although legal aid certificates are available for CPP appeals and QLA offers representation in southern L&A County in these cases, no one seemed aware of this. Part of the problem appears to be the failure to identify CPP denials as legal issues warranting legal advice. One participant reported that she could not find any private bar lawyers in Napanee or Belleville through the Lawyer Referral Service who could help her with her problem. Child Tax Benefit There appeared to be some difficulty accessing these benefits as well as confusion over who was a spouse under this law. Concerns were expressed about the provincial government clawing back this benefit from Ontario Works recipients. Old Age Security It was reported that many seniors are unaware of the existence of the Guaranteed Income Supplement and that it must be applied for annually. Priorities with Respect to Income Maintenance Issues Based on the feedback provided by the majority of participants, we can expect demand for services in the following areas, listed from highest to lowest demand or urgency for service: 1. Ontario Works 2. Ontario Disability Support Program 3. Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Benefits 4. Canada Pension Plan Disability 5. Employment Insurance Employment Work opportunities are extremely limited, in particular work opportunities that pay enough to keep people out of poverty. Much of the work is low-paid, equivalent to or barely above the minimum wage of $6.85 per hour. Many employers are small, transient, and informal. 14

23 It is difficult for people with disabilities to find remunerative employment. The only available work appears to be in sheltered workshops, and this work is reputed to pay only $2.00 per day. Leaving work, even if there are problems, is often not seen as an option due to: Fear of reprisals in a small community; Difficulty accessing Ontario Works benefits (perception of restrictive rules on acceptable reasons for leaving employment and consequent lack of eligibility for social assistance); or Difficulty accessing EI benefits (a different set of perceived restrictions on acceptable reasons for leaving work which might also lead to benefits being denied). People are reportedly unaware of their rights in the employment context or are afraid of employer reprisals so they do not exercise their rights. There was an overwhelming sense that people just did not have the information they needed to understand their rights in the workplace. Some reported that employers in L&A County were perceived to be anti-union which is why some businesses chose to locate in L&A County. One person reported that workers are afraid to organize. Some of the legal issues emerging were: Failure to pay properly; Disputes over hours of work; Employment Standards Act violations; Wrongful dismissal; and Health and safety issues. One participant felt that the need for employment law advice was even more severe than the need for housing law advice. Another participant felt that people were more susceptible to rights violations related to their employment because the employment options were so limited in a community so small. There was also a strong sense, particularly in northern areas, that employees were forced to work under the table so that their employers did not have to pay WSIB, EI, and CPP mandatory premiums. This makes employees more vulnerable when there is a work-related injury, job loss, or upon retirement. The logging industry was perceived to be a major culprit. Work-related injuries appear to be widespread, and a need for more information on occupational health and safety issues was identified. Lack of transportation and childcare for single mothers who can and want to work was seen as a barrier to employment. Access to Information and Advocacy Services People are referred to the Employment Standards Branch of the Ministry of Labour office in Kingston. Some reported difficulty with, or were intimidated by, the voice mail system for getting legal information from the Ministry. Since many people were reported to be without telephones, access to this information service is a real issue. 15

24 Some people in southern L&A County are referred to QLA. There is also a Wednesday afternoon Advice Lawyer clinic at the LAO Area Office where questions can be answered. More information is needed about rights at work. People need to know where they can go for information about these rights. Additional support is needed for people who wish to assert their rights. Housing Affordable housing was identified as a critical issue facing L&A County residents. There is a severe shortage of affordable, safe, and adequate rental housing for individuals (especially the disabled) and families. There was reportedly very little turnover in the limited public housing that exists. There are over 200 subsidized or non-profit housing units in L&A County. There are no housing cooperatives. There are long waiting lists. Additionally, the housing is clustered and identifiable as low-income housing. In the north, other than seniors housing in Northbrook, there are only six public housing units, all located in Flinton. In northern areas, there are homes without running water, indoor plumbing, or electricity. Tenants renting on the private market have found that rents have escalated, but there has been no corresponding increase in income. It was difficult for tenants to locate affordable housing in some areas of L&A County because the Ontario Works shelter allowance was insufficient. Shelter allowance maximums for Ontario Works recipients were decreased by 22.5% in 1995 and have not increased since that time. Additionally, social assistance rates were reduced by 21.6% at that time which means that tenants experienced a 21.6% cut in the amount they received to cover their shelter costs. Inflation has further eroded the real value of social assistance benefits 8% since then. 13 Furthermore, the allowable rent increase has averaged just under 3% per year. Additionally, minimum wage has been frozen since Affordability problems are on the increase. Even if affordable housing became available outside Napanee, transportation would be a barrier. Other housing problems include: Lack of repair, maintenance, or compliance with property standards; Heating system inadequacy; Lack of or improper leases; Hydro and water problems; Excessive heating costs last winter; Difficult landlords; Overcrowding or unsuitability of housing; and Evictions. There is no emergency shelter other than for abused women. This means youth and other homeless individuals have to travel to Kingston for help. People do not know where to get information, or if they have the information, they are afraid to exercise their legal rights since there is no other available housing. They also fear retribution from their landlords. Rather than enforce their rights, they just move. As many tenants do not understand their rights and responsibilities, some ignore eviction notices. 13 Ontario Social Safety Network, Five Years Later: Welfare Rate Cuts Anniversary Report, November,

25 Landlords, on the other hand, are perceived to be very well informed. People are not able to resolve housing issues on their own and require assistance. Landlords are seen as authority figures. One participant reported she was evicted by a landlord with the police standing by. She was not informed that she could only be evicted by the Sheriff with an Order of the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal (ORHT) in hand. Many participants reported that the ORHT was inaccessible to the people who needed it most because there was no local office they could go to for help. They could not file the necessary paperwork or get advice and assistance on procedures, process, or legal rights and obligations. Most do not have computer access so cannot use the ORHT website. Documents can be filed in person at Ministry of Transportation offices, but the only local office is in the Industrial Mall in Napanee. 14 Furthermore, they could not afford or could not travel to ORHT hearings. They are no longer held in Napanee; one must now travel to Belleville. One tenant, attempting to dispute a landlord s application, wrote a letter to ORHT only to find himself being evicted by the Sheriff because ORHT had not accepted his dispute. Allegedly, it was not on one of their forms and they had issued a default eviction order. There was a perception of slumlords throughout L&A County. The rental stock available is of poor quality and is over-priced. These landlords charge the maximum shelter allowance available to Ontario Works recipients. Homeowners fear any threat to their housing, such as the registration of a lien. Liens may now be filed against their property because they have received assistance from Ontario Works or have received legal aid and LAO has filed a lien for the cost of the certificate. 15 In 1998, ORHT predicted they would require sittings in Napanee one half-day every two weeks. Very little was heard about problems in retirement residences, homes for the aged, or nursing homes. The demand for space in nursing homes exceeds the supply. Therefore, some elderly people are being inappropriately housed. There was concern expressed about inadequate staffing in some homes. Access to Information or Advocacy Services Participants identified the need for someone in L&A County to address tenant issues. For the most part, local lawyers are not doing this type of legal work. People felt that landlords had the information they needed but that local tenants did not. There is a perception that the Property Standards Office in the Greater Napanee area is improving its enforcement of local by-laws. Based on requests for assistance currently received by the MPP s office, at least three requests for information, advice, or assistance are made weekly from L&A County tenants. 14 We have been advised that effective October 1, 2001, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing has discontinued this service as part of cutbacks. This means that residents of L&A County need to go to Picton, Belleville, or Kingston for assistance or forms. 15 Legal clinics do not charge for legal services and never file liens against the property of clients who own homes, which is a significant difference from the certificate side of LAO. 17

26 Many referrals are made to the Housing Help Centre (Home Base), and the staff person there reputedly does a lot of good work. Problem solving between tenants and landlords and providing information materials were seen as part of the staff person s role. QLA students do intake at Tuesday night clinics in the LAO Area Office, but it appears they are not receiving referrals. Part of the difficulty appears to be help is needed much more quickly in housing matters. Also, the students cannot advise immediately but rather must consult the next day with their Review Counsel before providing any advice. The Tenant Protection Act in 1998 introduced much shorter time periods for responding to eviction and other applications, and it is very difficult to offer useful advice on a once-per-week basis in these matters. The Advice Lawyer clinic at the LAO Area Office on Wednesday afternoons offers summary legal advice, but the perception is that half the lawyers staffing the clinic (staffing rotates) cannot advise on housing law because they do not practise it. LAO has just funded an ORHT Duty Counsel project designed to provide advice and possible representation at Tribunal sittings. ORHT hearings for L&A County currently take place in Belleville. 16 Unless people from L&A County attend these hearings, availability of Duty Counsel will not assist them. Furthermore, concern was expressed that people from L&A County would be afraid to leave town to wait in line for Duty Counsel. Family Law There are major problems arising from abuse to children, spouses, and the elderly. In particular, a great deal of secrecy surrounds the issue of domestic violence. Problems were reported with accessing the Family Court as it has become too complex and litigious. In spite of the efforts of the Family Law Information Centre, people do not understand the process. Furthermore, the perception is that the Centre does not provide advice and will not assist with completing paperwork. Participants reported frustration dealing with the local Children s Aid Society (Family & Children s Services). There appear to be increasing numbers of children served by Family & Children s Services, likely due to changes in legislation giving more power to Children s Aid Societies (CAS). Fewer problems are reported in northern areas, but it was observed that there was not a CAS workers dedicated to that area. Some participants reported difficulty obtaining supervised access services. 16 ORHT advised that hearing locations are scheduled according to the postal code of the property in question, however, for properties in L&A and Prince Edward Counties, hearings are held at City Hall in Belleville. 18

27 Many participants noted that it is difficult for L&A County residents to pursue their legal rights to support under the Family Law Act. In particular, it is difficult for the following people: Recipients of ODSPA allowances who are not entitled to legal aid certificates unless the level of support would be high enough to get them off assistance (nor do they have help from family support workers anymore who were staff employed by the Ministry to get support orders for recipients). A disabled person receiving an allowance has a legal obligation to make reasonable efforts to seek support but does not have access to legal help to meet this obligation; Low and middle-income home owners unless they are willing to have liens placed against their homes; and People needing a divorce. Problems with the Family Responsibility Office (formerly Family Support Plan ) were raised. This office enforces support obligations. Many continue to have difficulty dealing with this office, and it causes a great deal of frustration and creates financial crises for people when funds are not forwarded in a timely fashion. Also, in order to get help from them, you must have a court order or written agreement. As noted above, many people simply cannot accomplish this without help. Particularly in the north, there still appears to be a reluctance to divulge family problems due to privacy issues. Problems are dealt with in house. Alcohol use and addictions are seen to contribute to family problems in a significant way. Access to Information and Advocacy Services Many participants complained about the lack of availability of certificates in family law matters. When legal aid certificates are available in family law matters, many in southern L&A County report that people are being well served by the private bar. However, new restrictions on the availability of certificates are expected. 17 Furthermore, it is expected that there will be an increased reliance on Duty Counsel, available only at court. Participants reported a high ratio of unrepresented litigants in Napanee relative to other areas of the province. At the time this study was being conducted, we discovered that LAO was also investigating the need for a full-time family and criminal law "supervisory Duty Counsel in Napanee. Currently, Family Law Duty Counsel services are provided by local lawyers on a rotating basis in the Family Court, paid for by the LAO Area Office. A recommendation is being made that a full-time position be offered for supervisory Duty Counsel in both family and criminal law with an anticipated roll out date of April, The provision of Advice Lawyer services in the north may be considered as part of this initiative. 18 The LAO Area Office also offers an Advice Lawyer clinic on Wednesday afternoons. The Advice Lawyer service does not appear to be able to meet the need for more complicated assistance and will not help people complete the forms (referring them instead to the FLIC court staff since the Information and Referral Coordinator cannot do this either). Advice Lawyer services are not offered in the north. 17 It is expected that all requests for variation of custody and support, for example, will go to Duty Counsel. See Angela Longo s memo dated June 22, 2001 regarding coverage adjustments at Appendix VII. 18 September 22, 2001 telephone conversation with Helena Birt, Provincial Coordinator for Family Law Duty Counsel Program. 19

28 The Family Law Information Centre (FLIC) services are not well known or understood. They offer: Referrals to community services (Information and Referral Coordinator staffs an office on Wednesday mornings on the second floor of the Court House at 41 Dundas Street West in Napanee); Summary legal advice (Advice Counsel attends on Thursday and Friday mornings from 9:30 a.m. 12:30 p.m. in the FLIC office); Help completing court forms (court staff); Information for separating and divorcing parents (six workshops per year); and Referrals to mediation (through Family Mediation Kingston). There is no formal relationship between the LAO Area Office and the FLIC. The differing duties of the lawyer in the FLIC office and at Duty Counsel in Family Court are explained in the LAO memo dated February 24, 2000 attached as an Appendix VIII to this report. There were some criticisms of the FLIC office: Its location across from the Criminal Courts was very intimidating for potential users of the service; The setup was not seen to be user friendly; On a different floor from the Family Court filing office and in a separate building from the Family Court, making it difficult to access; Hard to find since there is no signage at 41 Dundas Street announcing the FLIC presence; and No display case for information on the FLIC within the building, which becomes a problem due to the limited hours of access (bulletin board displays are not permitted within the building due to the presence of the Criminal Courts and security concerns). More lawyers are needed to provide representation to parents when the Children s Aid Society is involved. Many parents are having difficulty finding a local lawyer to help them even though legal aid certificates are available to pay for the services. The working poor appear to fall between the cracks, not being eligible for legal aid certificates to retain their own lawyers nor to use the services of FLIC Advice Counsel. Significant differences regarding the access to legal resources exist between northern and southern areas of L&A County. In the north, many were unaware of the availability of legal aid certificates, the Advice Lawyer, Duty Counsel at Family Court, or the Family Law Information Centre (FLIC). Lack of a toll-free telephone number to the local LAO Area Office or FLIC (or an office presence or access point in northern L&A County) and the unwillingness of the private bar lawyers to take certificates are perceived to be preventing access. When faced with domestic violence, women are turning to Land O Lakes Community Services, to the OPP, or are doing nothing. Emergency legal aid certificates for advice for domestic violence victims are not available from the FLIC or QLA students. They can be obtained from Interval House staff. Greater availability of these certificates would be helpful. Legal clinics can distribute these. 20

29 Disability and Mental Health It is perceived that there are large numbers of people with disabilities and with mental health issues. Many mental health needs go unmet. There are problems getting assessments. This problem appears compounded for youth. There are few services for youth. Adult Protective Service Workers (APSW) provide support and advocacy assistance to people with developmental disabilities. Although APSW services are reputedly very good, people reported a waiting list of one year. As a result of de-institutionalization, there are larger numbers of people with mental health issues trying to survive in the community. In the near future, there are plans to move more people back to L&A County when other institutions are closed. Service providers are seeing more people in crisis, and threats of violence to staff result in increased security. The availability of financial assistance for low and middle-income families with children with serious disabilities does not appear to be well known. Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities (the former handicapped children s benefit ) could be of assistance to many lowincome families. It appears to be more difficult for people with mental health or addiction-related disabilities to find adequate housing. In northern L&A County, a stigma is associated with mental health problems. Help is limited since the community mental health worker only comes once every two weeks to Northbrook (new funding is expected to alleviate some of this problem). There are great holes in services for adolescents. Additionally, there are few resources for children with special needs. It is difficult to get assessments, and many children go undiagnosed. This makes it difficult to assert rights to special education under the Education Act. Even if problems are diagnosed and identified, there appear to be transportation difficulties with at least one of the local school boards. Accessible transportation for the disabled is not available. An emerging issue is the provision of adequate health care for people in ill health living in the community. There was a perception that insufficient funding was being provided for the necessary support services and that people s needs were not being adequately met by the Community Care Access Centres as a result. Access to Information and Advocacy Services No one appeared to know where people might go for help. Overall, very few legal issues were identified, so this may explain why no one knew where to refer to for help. The Ontario Human Rights Commission investigates complaints of discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code and has an office in Kingston. No one appears to be using it, nor does anyone seem to understand what the Commission does anymore. The Advocacy Centre for the Handicapped (ARCH) is a legal clinic with a province-wide mandate to assist people with disabilities, but they are unknown in L&A County. Similarly, Justice for Children and Youth (JFCY) is a legal clinic with a province-wide mandate (particularly on education law issues) but is not known in this community. 21

30 Immigrant, Refugee and Aboriginal Law There were no problems perceived in these areas within the awareness of research participants. Racist attitudes and resentment over aboriginal hunting and fishing rights were identified as potential issues. A large number of issues concerning immigration are brought forward by prison inmates. This work is not being done by the Correctional Law Project since it is not within their mandate, and they are referred to Duty Counsel for LAO certificates. Being in Trouble with the Law Participants largely reported on criminal and young offender law issues. Criminal problems were said to include charges related to impaired driving, assault (including domestic violence), break and enters, and drugs. Transportation problems are compounding people s legal problems since they cannot make it to scheduled court appearances. Concerns were expressed over the need for legal aid certificates in cases where people were charged with social assistance fraud and therefore subject to the lifetime ban consequences. Some problems with the OPP were reported, particularly a lack of accountability. Many poor people feel targeted because of their poverty. An interview with the Executive Director of the Correctional Law Project (CLP) at Queen s University identified a number of issues where people residing within L&A County, but within the federal institutions of Bath and Millhaven, require help. These include: 1. Seven different types of Parole Board hearings 2. Inmates' appeals before the Court of Appeal 3. Disciplinary court trial work 4. Transfers (voluntary and involuntary) between institutions 5. Placements in penitentiaries 6. Access to adequate medical treatment 7. Challenging Correction Service Canada policies. There is a perception of a higher than average ex-prison population due to the proximity of federal institutions and the Quinte Detention Centre. Consequently, there are more problems with people having criminal records and the consequent difficulty in obtaining employment when criminal record checks are required. People are reported to be noncompetitive in employment for three years after release. Access to Information and Advocacy Services There are varied perceptions. While some maintain that all criminal law needs are met, others report serious problems in getting legal aid certificates for certain kinds of charges. Some perceive that some lawyers do not spend enough time with their clients and that the availability of discharges is not appropriately explained - perhaps due to the time restrictions on legal aid certificates. 22

31 According to participants, many clients are pleading guilty with the assistance of Duty Counsel. Duty Counsel does not have enough time to spend with clients. The Advice Lawyer clinic is also available on Wednesday afternoons at the LAO Area Office and may assist some people who are unable to get legal aid certificates or wait for Duty Counsel services in the courts. LAO intends to provide a salaried supervisory Duty Counsel in the Criminal Courts in Napanee to supplement the Duty Counsel services currently being offered on a rotating basis by private bar lawyers. The anticipated date for this new service is April, It is too early to predict what impact this will have on unmet criminal law needs. Approximately 80% of the counsel s time will be spent on criminal law matters. People are signing Christopher s Law documents without getting advice. Some felt that many young offenders could not get legal representation because LAO required an assessment of the parents financial circumstances. In the north, problems with eligibility for legal aid certificates, as noted under the previous family law section, and difficulty finding a lawyer in the north to take the certificate are hampering access. In southern L&A County, QLA offers assistance in provincial offence violations and certain summary criminal offences. In the federal institutions, the Correctional Law Project reports that they cannot meet the need for the legal issues described in items 4 to 7 previously listed. They have requested that LAO provide them with at least one more lawyer to try to meet the demand for services. It is especially critical that they have a lawyer to deal with emergencies. Consumer/Debt Many people are facing credit problems due to their debt load. Credit counselling services are not available locally. Door to door sales were not reported to be a major problem. However, exploitation by rent to own companies and mail scams are common. Harassment by collection agencies is a big problem. There appears to be a general lack of information about consumer rights. Consequently, people believe they cannot afford to do anything about their problems. One participant described a problem with an insurance company blatantly denying their legal rights to coverage for damages suffered. The decision was accepted because they did not or could not get legal advice. Problems with Ontario Hydro and their collection practices were cited. They have been very inflexible in negotiating repayment agreements. This has placed people at risk of having no hydro services. Although no bankruptcy statistics are available for residents of L&A County, there was a perception that declaring bankruptcy was frequently done. 23

32 Small Claims Court was viewed as inaccessible, again particularly in the north. Additionally, for low-income people, the current filing and other fees make bringing a claim (and setting it down for trial) to Small Claims Court impossible. Access to Information and Advocacy Services Assistance in Small Claims Court matters in southern L&A County where the amount in dispute is between $500 and $10,000 is available from QLA students. However, people did not seem to be aware of this. Many people were referred to the Wednesday Advice Lawyer clinic at the LAO Area Office. No one mentioned the services available from the Ministry of Consumer & Commercial Relations (complaints about collection agencies can be made to the Ministry, for example). No one appeared to be aware of the services of the Insurance Ombudsman either. It appears that Small Claims Courts are attempting to become more user friendly and are shifting their focus to courts as a last resort. It was not clear what impact this currently has or might have for people needing assistance. Personal Injuries People are becoming more aware of their right to claim compensation if they have been a victim of violent crime. However, there has been little local assistance available for filing a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB). People who have suffered other types of personal injury are thought not to be seeking legal advice but are instead relying on their insurance companies. Some are using Toronto area firms and appear to be experiencing long delays in having their cases resolved. Access to Information and Advocacy Services Most participants did not know about criminal injuries compensation. Greater outreach on the availability of compensation for victims of violent crime is needed. In particular, there is a need to ensure victims of childhood physical and sexual abuse, and other forms of domestic violence, are aware of their rights to pursue compensation even if charges were never laid against the perpetrator of the abuse at the time it occurred. Service providers need information sessions too. The Victim-Witness Program was expanding into L&A County at the time this report was written. They will be offering support and assistance to victims of crimes currently pending before the courts. It is anticipated that they may be able to provide assistance with filing CICB claims. QLA also offers assistance. Very few lawyers are reported to be practicising personal injury law. It is almost impossible to get legal aid certificates that cover both legal fees and disbursements unless one has been a victim of institutional abuse. For sexual abuse cases, only disbursements are available. 24

33 (iii) Perceptions of Barriers to Accessing Justice There was an overwhelming sense that people living on a low income had a complete lack of awareness of their legal rights or remedies. Countless stories illustrated this point and the unhappy results of this lack of knowledge. The level of legal literacy is of great concern. Legal literacy can be defined as the process of acquiring critical awareness about rights and law, the ability to assert rights, and the capacity to mobilize for change." 19 Lack of Information about Legal Rights and Resources In almost every area of the law, it was reported that people did not know enough about their legal rights and obligations. There was a strong consensus that people were not well informed, or only somewhat informed, about their legal rights when this question was asked specifically. Some commented that people were often misinformed about their legal rights, with serious consequences. This lack of knowledge or incorrect information manifests in various ways including: People do not understand what their legal rights are, a trend which has worsened in areas of the law where there have been significant changes; People rarely raise issues relating to their rights in most areas of their lives including receipt of social assistance, dealing with employers or landlords, or private business (debt/contract); Even if written information was available, people could not read it due to low literacy levels; and It is difficult to participate fully in the community with low levels of legal literacy, and people are very vulnerable to victimization in all its forms. Currently, people are turning to their MP and MPP for help due to a lack of any other perceived resource. Some people in the north, lacking a legal clinic presence, turn to the Land O' Lakes Community Service, to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), or to the private bar. The one law firm in the north does not often accept legal aid certificates, further restricting people s ability to access legal services. People in the north have found that social and other services based in southern L&A County are of limited value to them, as they do not recognize the reality of a rural, northern existence. One participant described resources in southern L&A County as being 50 years behind in terms of linkages between resources and services and sensitivity to client needs. Another participant advised that social services were not very well coordinated, and this was a major issue. Services in northern L&A County appear to be more coordinated. Inability to Access Information Transportation difficulties appear to be compounding people s ability to get advice or representation. There appears to be a great deal of confusion around who does what in the area of legal information and advocacy services. Although there are some information and advocacy services that can help, they are not generally known. We have included a list of "access to 19 M. Schuler & S. Kadirgamar-Rajasingham, eds., Legal Literacy: A Tool for Women s Empowerment (New York: UNIFEM, 1992) at 2. 25

34 justice" providers at Appendix IX to assist community agencies in making referrals. This list does not include the services offered by legal clinics or the LAO Area Office in Napanee. These "access to justice" services are described throughout this report. People simply do not know where to turn and have difficulty problem solving due to a lack of information or understanding of their options. As a result, people are doing nothing and accepting the status quo. Even if people know where to turn, they are finding it difficult to contact services by phone. Many people living on a low income do not have phones, even in isolated rural areas. Of those that do have phones, most cannot afford long distance charges. Some cannot access lines due to Bell Canada blocks on long distance calls on their phone lines. Many people do not like toll-free long distance services (preferring local numbers) or voice mail systems. Others sharing phones with people they live with are unable to make private calls. Many people have difficulty communicating effectively over the telephone. At the time of the interviews, people reported the following organizations did not have tollfree long distance lines: LAO Area Office; Family Law Information Centre; Human Resources Development Canada Office (EI); Lawyer Referral Service (now 1-900: fee for service call); and Victim/Witness Program (but does accept collect calls). Low literacy levels are barriers to effective use of legal information pamphlets, websites, or information available over the internet. Lack of Advocacy Resources Although Queen s Legal Aid offers an intake clinic on Tuesday evenings, this service has not been consistently available throughout the year, which is hampering people s access. Also, a fair number of people did not know about the service. Some suggested that Tuesday evenings are not the most convenient or appropriate time. There is also a concern that students attending this clinic can only do intake and cannot offer advice until they have met with a supervising lawyer, causing delays. There are also mixed experiences with students; some are very committed and others are less so. Particularly in the north, it is difficult to access legal help in criminal and family law areas. MPP Leona Dombrowsky s constituency staff, operating out of Napanee, provides many advocacy type services on behalf of L&A County residents for matters within provincial jurisdiction. MP Larry McCormick s staff are also seen to do advocacy type work on behalf of constituents having problems with the federal government or its programs such as Canada Pension or Employment Insurance. The Law Society of Upper Canada offers the Lawyer Referral Service which enables the caller to receive up to one half-hour of free legal advice from participating lawyers. Few people reported making referrals to this service, partly due to the $6.00 fee that is required to access it and concerns about the usefulness of the advice. 26

35 There appear to be few alternate advocacy resources. Lack of Systemic Approach to Problems Although poverty, hunger, and lack of affordable and adequate housing are seen as major problems in the community, there have not been any coordinated community efforts to tackle these issues from a systemic point of view. Nor have there been any significant community development/community organizing initiatives undertaken, and this was identified as problematic. We were unable to find major studies of these issues in L&A County, although participants were aware of these initiatives in communities in adjoining counties. One result is a high degree of alienation and isolation being experienced by people living on a low income. (iv) Perceptions of How Services Should Be Delivered How and What Type? Where individual assistance was being offered, most felt it was important to have an actual office presence where drop-in clients could be accommodated. Some felt that if there were long line-ups for service, a drop-in system would not be used. Many felt that an appointment system might also work, providing there was phone access to the clinic every day of the week. However, many potential clients were reported to be without telephone access. Storefront settings in visible locations would be helpful. Sharing with other agencies might create confidentiality or privacy concerns. Some suggested that home visits should be available for some clients. Although the question was not specifically asked, some suggested that some days of the week might be better than others, at least in the Napanee area. Different days of the week were suggested as better by different people. The greatest possible coverage would be ideal. Daytime hours seemed preferable to the evening hours currently offered by the QLA clinic. The importance of a toll-free long distance line was stressed. Some stated a preference for a local number with a call-forwarding system to the clinic s main office on days that the office was not staffed. All felt that access to legal services simply by a number was not sufficient. Some expressed concerns over accessing services using a voice mail system and the problems that may create, especially for seniors and others with poor literacy or numeracy. Given the lack of legal literacy in the area, it will be important to find ways of providing legal information in non-intimidating and non-traditional ways using community development approaches. Where? The consensus was that legal clinic services needed to be offered from locations in both the north and south of L&A County. Transportation factors and distinct communities were the major reasons given. 27

36 Napanee was suggested for the south, although it was noted that some social services also have offices in Amherstview due to the lack of public transportation to Napanee for residents of Amherstview. The cost of travelling into Kingston from Amherstview was seen as prohibitive. Napanee is the County seat and hosts most of the services. Some participants suggested downtown Napanee - in the Market Square area - as preferable due to the location of the No Frills supermarket, the LAO Area Office (and the QLA Advice Clinic), the FLIC, the Social Services Department, and MPP Leona Dombrowsky s constituency office. One participant remarked that a clinic office should be located down the hall from the Social Services Department. Others suggested the area out towards the 401 where many social services are relocating and where the Giant Tiger and MP Larry McCormick s office are located. In the north, the optimum location was seen to be Northbrook, with Cloyne and Kaladar also suggested as possibilities. Willingness to Travel for Services There were mixed reactions to how far people might be willing to travel for services. Generally, less than one half-hour was seen as acceptable. As noted throughout this report, the lack of affordable or public transportation systems was seen to be a major barrier. Within Napanee, there is no public transport. Cab fares were reported to be fixed at $4.50 regardless of the distance being traveled. Many people walk to services to save money. Some people hitchhike or get a ride with a friend. Many people thought that the Social Services Department was trying to arrange some form of public transportation but were unclear on the details of the service being discussed. Further research revealed there is a trial service running to Kingston one day per week, and that it is not restricted to Ontario Works recipients. 20 Feedback on Advocacy Services Available There were no identified self-help organizations or groups with an advocacy component. Low Income Needs Coalition (LINC) is a community group based in Kingston that is committed to "fighting back against poverty". In October, 2001, they organized a special meeting in Napanee to encourage local low-income residents to form their own coalition. Even social workers and others who perform an advocacy role for their clients are reporting that they are often stymied in their efforts on behalf of their clients. It appears that offering more support (information and strategies) to people trying to advocate on behalf of their clients will be a necessary service. There were very few lawyers mentioned as potential referrals for clinic law work. One name came up repeatedly. This lawyer accepts legal aid certificates currently for clinic law work. 20 On a three-month trial basis beginning June 14, 2001, a community bus service has been running once per day on Thursdays, arranged by the Prince Edward-Lennox & Addington County Social Services Department. One bus runs throughout the County ending up in Kingston. 28

37 Feedback on Current Legal Aid Ontario Funded and other Government Funded Initiatives There was a great deal of confusion about who was doing what even amongst current justice providers in the community. There seemed to be confusion between the services provided by a Legal Aid Ontario Area Office, a community legal clinic, and the law students at Queen s Legal Aid. The differences between legal aid certificates and legal clinic work need to be clearly explained. 21 There was also confusion about the different types of services LAO offers directly and how they all fit together. These include legal aid certificates, the Advice Lawyer clinic in Napanee on Wednesday afternoons, FLIC service including the Advice Counsel, and Duty Counsel in the Criminal and Family Courts. From the consultation, it appeared that it might be helpful to put together a protocol or a referral network for "justice" providers. A meeting between representatives from the three clinics, the Legal Aid Ontario Area Office, Duty Counsel and Advice Lawyer programs, Small Claims Court, and the FLIC was recommended to improve coordination between these organizations. It was also felt to be very important that local service delivery be consistent to generate trust and confidence. Some living outside urban areas cited a lack of confidence in services being offered in urban centres. There was a strong perception that the legal aid certificate system is not working because: The working poor are felt not to be eligible; Home owners are unwilling to have liens put against their homes; Young offenders often have uncooperative parents with assets so cannot get legal aid certificates; Restrictions on the numbers of certificates and what they can be issued for; and Restrictions on the number of hours available to the lawyer using certificates. Overall, people were pleased with how they were treated by the staff at the LAO Area Office in Napanee which issues the legal aid certificates. Overall, there appeared to be a complete lack of awareness of information and assistance available from other places, such as: Ontario Human Rights Commission; Ministry of Consumer & Commercial Relations; Specialty legal clinics with provincial mandates; Insurance Ombudsman; Provincial Ombudsman; Office of the Worker Advisor; Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal; and Family Law Information Centre In order to help people understand the differences in the course of our interviews, we provided a sheet setting out some of the current differences between HPELS and the Hastings-Prince Edward LAO Area Office, provided at Appendix X. 22 Contact and referral information for these services is provided in Appendix IX. 29

38 Best Way to Inform about Services Given the low literacy levels in the area, the newspapers might not be the best way for everyone to learn about services, but it would be a good starting place. The Napanee Beaver and The Guide were felt to be important. Public service announcements or promoting clinic services on available radio, particularly country music radio station 96.3 FM, might be helpful. Radio ads on rights might be useful. Distributing pamphlets and placing posters on bulletin boards and available spaces at social service agencies, the food bank, the Good Food Box, the courthouses, and stores like No Frills and Giant Tiger, Stop n Shop and A&P were recommended. Flyers would have to use very simple language to be effective. Providing legal information to people in receipt of Ontario Works benefits by enclosing information with their monthly cheque stubs was seen to be important. One participant recommended handing out flyers with coupons during one of Napanee s Santa Claus parades. Another participant recommended information tables or displays at public events. An informative listing in the yellow pages directory was also recommended. Providing education through schools was also seen as useful. Family physicians were recommended as good sources of referrals. Working closely with local social service providers was seen to be an important way of ensuring referrals and of beginning to increase the level of knowledge about legal rights for Ontario Works, the Ontario Disability Support Program, and house law issues for lowincome tenants. Presentations to service providers on clinic services and areas of law was recommended. Holding an open house and serving food was also recommended. Making the most of available opportunities to network with people in the community would be important. The importance of a Where to Turn type directory of legal aid or access to justice services was stressed. This would likely require a meeting of all the service providers to pull this information together accurately and ensure good referrals between organizations. Many felt it would be important to meet or connect with all the private bar lawyers to: Allay any fears about encroachment on traditional private bar practice areas like criminal and family law; and Ensure clinics begin to get appropriate referrals for the areas of law we practise. It was mentioned on several occasions that the credibility and reputation of individual staff members would greatly enhance the willingness of individuals to use the service. Although perceived to be of less importance in urban centres, it would be of critical importance in northern L&A County. First impressions of the service would be very important. One participant stressed how important it was for a clinic to develop a good reputation in the community by challenging the government and winning. This would assist getting the word on the street and with word of mouth referrals. 30

39 Special Needs of the Client Community Overall, the population living on a low income were seen to be oppressed. Transportation was seen as a major special need. In some cases, it will be necessary to perform home visits due to the lack of transportation or due to the disabilities of the potential client. Low levels of literacy were also seen to be very important. The low level of legal literacy was seen as of critical importance. Any efforts to improve this situation would be worthwhile. Mental health and addiction-related problems were cited and the need to accommodate these disabilities. This might require walk-in services, flexibility in scheduling appointment times, or a high level of understanding when clients do not show up for scheduled appointments. (2) Quantitative Findings (i) Demographic Information The LAO consultant s report is informative and very comprehensive. It is attached as Appendix VI to this report. It is a comprehensive analysis of the demographics of L&A County. Two years ago, we asked the Community Development Council of Quinte to give us a statistical breakdown of demographics by municipality in L&A County. Some of this data is now readily available on the Statistics Canada website. We have conducted a more detailed analysis of the County, based on this municipal information, to help us understand where most of the people living below the poverty line reside, or at least where they resided in We also looked at how many tenants lived in each of the areas along with other information to help us plan for service delivery unique to the distinct geographic communities of northern and southern L&A County. For the purposes of this needs assessment study, relevant information is summarized and excerpted below. Overall Population Figures The 1996 Census of Canada data population figure for L&A County is 39, 203. Of this, 37,625 people reside in private households. The remaining population resides in prisons or other institutions such as nursing homes. A closer examination of municipal statistics confirms the perception that the majority of people in L&A County live south of the 401. The northern Township of Addington Highlands has one-third the population of the central Township of Stone Mills. 31

40 The breakdown of where people live by municipality and the size of each municipality is set out in the chart below: LENNOX & ADDINGTON COUNTY POPULATION ( ) 16,000 15,000 14,000 13,000 12,000 11,000 10,000 9,000 8,000 7,000 6,000 5,000 4,000 3,000 2,000 1, Township of Addington Highlands Town of Greater Napanee Township of Loyalist Township of Stone Mills Township of Addington Highlands 2,193 2,429 Denbigh, Abinger & Ashby Kaladar, Anglesea & Effingham 1,481 1,712 Town of Greater Napanee 14,507 14,994 Adolphustown Napanee 5,179 5,450 North Fredericksburg 3,183 3,258 South Fredericksburg 1,222 1,197 Richmond 4,037 4,143 Township of Loyalist 13,887 14,551 Amherst Island Bath 1,257 1,389 Ernestown 12,229 12,763 Township of Stone Mills 6,656 7,229 Camden East 4,564 4,928 Newburg Sheffield 1,380 1,572 32

41 People Living Below the Poverty Line Using Statistics Canada low-income cutoffs (the most widely used measure of poverty in Canada), there are 5,725 people living in low-income households. The original Town of Napanee had 1,825 individuals living in poverty, which is a 34% poverty rate. This population is now included in the Town of Greater Napanee which has a 19.9% poverty rate. A larger concentration of people live in poverty in the original Town of Napanee than in the other urban areas around Amherstview and Bath. In northern L&A County, the Township on Addington Highlands has a poverty rate of 22.2%. The low-income population is 540 people. The overall poverty rate for the area is 15%, compared to 18% for the province as a whole. Oddly enough, the incidence of poverty as a whole when compared to Ontario is higher in both urban and rural parts 23 of L&A County. In rural areas, 12% live in poverty compared to 9% in all of Ontario. In the urban areas, 22% live in poverty compared to 19% in Ontario. 24 The breakdown by municipality is as follows: LOW-INCOME POPULATION IN LENNOX & ADDINGTON COUNTY MUNICIPALITY LOW-INCOME POPULATION TOTAL POPULATION LOW-INCOME % OF TOTAL POPULATION Township of Addington Highlands 540 2, % Town of Greater Napanee 2,980 14, % Township of Loyalist 1,535 14, % Township of Stone Mills 1,190 11, % Language and Literacy Among the low-income population, 99% speak English at home. Residents of L&A County have lower levels of literacy than the general Canadian population aged 16 and over. There is a larger fraction of the population at the lowest levels of literacy. There is a significantly smaller fraction of residents at the two highest levels of literacy. 25 The ability to understand and respond to written forms and communications is increasingly important for low-income residents. The legislative frameworks and policies that impact the low-income population, such as the Tenant Protection Act, Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal, Ontario Works, and the Social Benefits Tribunal, increasingly rely on written communications, complicated procedures, and tight time frames. The increasing integration of Ontario Works recipients within the labour market makes numeracy skills increasingly important for understanding how paid work affects entitlements Stats Canada defines rural areas as small towns and villages with less that 1,000 people. Urban areas have minimum population concentrations of 1,000 and population densities of at least 400 per square kilometre. 24 This inconsistency is a statistical anomaly explained by Simpson s Paradox. The more accurate reflection is the urban/rural breakdown which is supported by the table entitled "Low-Income Population in Lennox & Addington County". 25 A great deal of additional data is provided in Appendix VI, A Profile of Lennox & Addington Legal Aid Ontario. 26 Ibid, p

42 Place of Birth, Immigration and Citizenship Among the low-income population, 95% were born in Canada. Others were born in European countries, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The non-immigrant population is 95%; 99% of the low-income population identify themselves as Canadian citizens. Ethnic and Aboriginal Origins Among the low-income population, 4% identified themselves as having Aboriginal origins compared to provincial total of 2.1%. Among these, 35% are reported to be living below the poverty line compared to 14.9% of non-aboriginals. Family status The low-income population is comprised of 37% children followed by 31% who are their parents; 10% are spouses or common-law partners without children at home and the remaining 23% are unattached individuals. Education Only a very small fraction of people living on a low income have attended university: 4% compared to 18% across Ontario. Furthermore, only 2% graduated with a degree, compared to 9% across the province. The percentage who attended non-university education was roughly the same as the province at 20%. On the other hand, 13% of the low-income population had less than Grade 9 compared to 15% for Ontario; 57% had attended secondary school and 19% had graduated, compared to 43% and 14%, respectively, for the province. Employment and Unemployment It was not possible to use the LAO profile of L&A County to reach reliable conclusions about employment and unemployment levels and incomes. Participation and Employment Rates and Earnings The LAO profile cannot assist in understanding the situation in L&A County. We have provided other information from a local study later in the report. Among the low-income population, 58% of individuals aged 15+ did not work in 1995 compared to 57% province-wide. Among these, 30% worked part-time or part-year compared to 31% provincially, and 12% worked full-time, which is the same as the provincial statistic. Although males were more likely to work than females, females appeared to earn more than males when they worked. Among those working full-time, full-year the average earnings were $4,902 compared to $8,663 provincially; $5,008 among females and $4,843 among males (versus $8,568 for females and $8,725 for males according to provincial statistics). According to the above statistics, low-income residents of L&A County earn approximately half as much as their provincial comparators. 34

43 Level and Sources of Income Unattached Individuals The median total income among all low-income unattached individuals in L&A County was $9,856 in 1995 compared to $10,293 in the province. Government transfer payments are the major source of income for about 75% compared to 63% in the rest of Ontario. Among unattached individuals, 33% in the province list wages, salaries, or self-employment earnings as their major source of income, but only 20% do so in L&A County. Families Among families, 1,495 lived below the poverty line or 13% of all families in L&A County; 47% of these families were lead by single parents (although single parent families make up only 18% of all families in L&A County). In husband-wife families, the median income was $48,513 in 1995 compared with $12,693 among poor husband-wife families. In single parent families, the median income was $20,191 compared with $12,966 among low-income single parent families. Among these families, 34% had incomes under $10,000 and 64% had incomes under $15,000. Government transfer payments as a major source of income were received by 53% of husband-wife families, 56% by male lone parent families (25 in total), and 81% of female lone parent families (430 in total). Low-Income Tenants Among tenants, 51% are spending 30% or more of household income on shelter costs in tenant-occupied households (1,665), which is substantially above the provincial average of 44%. Among households, 23% (3,260) rent compared to 36% provincially. The number of tenant-occupied households differs significantly by municipality. The majority of tenants live in the area south of the 401, with much smaller numbers in both the northern and central areas. 35

44 LENNOX & ADDINGTON COUNTY RENTED PRIVATE OCCUPIED DWELLINGS Township of Addington Highlands Township of Loyalist Town of Greater Napanee Township of Stone Mills LENNOX & ADDINGTON COUNTY RENTED PRIVATE OCCUPIED DWELLINGS Township of Addington Highlands 215 Denbigh, Abinger & Ashby 40 Kaladar, Anglesea & Effingham 175 Town of Greater Napanee 1675 Adolphustown 20 Napanee 1305 North Fredericksburg 60 South Fredericksburg 50 Richmond 240 Township of Loyalist 1065 Amherst Island 10 Bath 80 Ernestown 975 Township of Stone Mills 320 Camden East 160 Newburg 35 Sheffield 125 In L&A County, the average gross rent in 1996 was $577 monthly. Rents ranged from a low of $412 per month in South Fredericksburg to $942 in Adolphustown. 36

45 LENNOX & ADDINGTON COUNTY 1996 AVERAGE GROSS RENT AVERAGE RENT Township of Addington Highlands Denbigh, Abinger & Ashby 501 Kaladar, Anglesea & Effingham 538 Town of Greater Napanee Adolphustown 942 Napanee 544 North Fredericksburg 607 South Fredericksburg 412 Richmond 607 Township of Loyalist Amherst Island 0 Bath 634 Ernestown 631 Township of Stone Mills Camden East 688 Newburg 644 Sheffield 354 This population was highly mobile; 40% moved in 1995 in L&A County, compared to 26% in Ontario and only 12% of the general population. Most moved within L&A County rather than migrating outside the County. Current Rental Market Data Canada Mortgage and Housing does not conduct a survey for L&A County as it is not an urban area. This means we cannot get a statistical picture of the current vacancy rates and average rent levels. Additionally, vacancy decontrol was allowed in Ontario beginning in 1998 which means that a landlord can now charge whatever he/she wants when a tenant moves out of a rental unit. It can be expected that the average rent levels are currently significantly higher than they were in 1996 when the Statistics Canada data previously set out was collected. The Disabled About 3% of the population living in private households were considered disabled by Stats Canada standards. 27 Among these, 1,095 claiming a degree of disability lived in L&A County in Any person identifying himself or herself or a member of the household as being limited in activities at home, at school, at work, or in other activities or had any long-term disabilities or handicaps. 37

46 (ii) Level of Potential Need for Representation These statistics were collected to give a sense of the actual number of people who might require legal assistance in these areas. This information was extremely difficult to collect and was very time-consuming. It may be possible to draw conclusions on the potential degree of legal need by making extrapolations from the data kept by legal clinics regarding current service levels offered to comparable populations. Demographic Data Income Maintenance Program Sources Ontario Works From January to June, 2001, the Intake Services Unit ( ) processed 585 new applications for L&A County. 28 LENNOX & ADDINGTON COUNTY ONTARIO WORKS CASELOAD/RECIPIENTS Caseload Recipients Caseload Recipients JANUARY 855 2, ,592 FEBUARY 871 2, ,551 MARCH 847 2, ,571 APRIL 830 1, ,536 MAY 798 N/A 652 1,524 JUNE 795 1, ,492 JULY 755 1, ,441 AUGUST 715 1, ,342 SEPTEMBER 728 1,698 OCTOBER 692 1,642 NOVEMBER 680 1,589 DECEMBER 693 1, Ontario Disability Support Program The local office of the Ministry of Community & Social Services reported that there were 1,193 ODSPA cases in L&A County in 2000, as follows: MUNICIPALITY ODSPA CASES Township of Addington Highlands 151 Town of Greater Napanee 447 Township of Loyalist 367 Township of Stone Mills Information obtained from Henry Brynkus, Manager of the Eastern Ontario ISU, on June 7, Information obtained from Michele Proulx, Ontario Works Organization Analyst, on September 18,

47 Employment Insurance Claims 30 At the Napanee office, the average monthly claimants for regular Employment Insurance (not maternity, sickness, or training benefits) were 686 in 1999 and 629 in Workplace Safety and Insurance Board It was not possible to obtain any statistics from the Board regarding the number of people in receipt of the various kinds of benefits available to injured workers. We did learn that there were 250 new accidents occurring in 2000 resulting in lost time. Canada Pension Plan Disability It was not possible to get statistics from Human Resources Development Canada broken down by County. Only provincial totals were available. Old Age Security It is not possible to get statistics from Human Resources Development Canada broken down by County. Level of Tribunal Activity Initially, we had hoped that finding out how much activity there was might be a useful indicator of the degree of need for legal clinic services. However, the findings from the action research part of this study indicate that most residents do not understand their legal rights or their rights to appeal decisions of their workers. In the case of Ontario Works, many people are not given written notices as required by law when the Prince Edward- Lennox & Addington Social Services Department decides they cannot get benefits. Therefore, they do not know they can ask for an "internal review" of the decision or appeal if the decision is not changed after they have asked for an "internal review". The numbers in the following table must be viewed in light of this fact. We can probably expect to see a dramatic increase in the number of appeals launched once legal clinic services are formally offered in L&A County and residents begin to become aware of their legal rights. We suspect the numbers in the following table severely understate the degree of need. In fact, we were surprised at the degree of activity, given what we have learned about how reluctant people were about enforcing their rights even when they knew they could. 30 Information obtained from Nancy Ker, Labour Market Information Analyst for the Quinte Area at Human Resources Development Canada, on July 9, Lennox & Addington statistics do not include the approximate 30% of the population who live in the Amherstview-Bath area which forms part of another catchment area for HRDC purposes. 39

48 Social Benefits Tribunal Appeals / /2001 Appeals under the Ontario Works Act Appeals under the Ontario Disability Support Program Act Total Number of Appeals Filed * 79 * 54 * Slight variations in totals exist which we cannot explain. For further information, please see Social Benefits Tribunal Statistics attached as Appendix XI. The Director of Social Services could not report on the number of rejected or denied applications for assistance or the number of suspensions or cancellations of Ontario Works allowances. However, he noted that he receives about three requests for internal reviews per month. Internal reviews are filed when a recipient objects to a written notice of decision regarding their Ontario Works allowance. This number of internal reviews can be viewed as extremely low, partly due to the unwillingness of the Social Services Department to refer these people for legal advice when the Department is making an adverse decision about their entitlement. 32 Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal (ORHT) It was impossible to find any publicly available current statistics grouped by County for the operations of the ORHT. We wished to examine: Number of applications filed; Whether they were filed by tenants or landlords; What the legal grounds were for the applications; How many hearings were scheduled and where they were scheduled; What the outcomes of the hearings were; and How many default orders were issued (because tenants failed to file a dispute, for example). In order to obtain this basic information, we were going to have to spend at least several hundred dollars. We declined to do so and have passed our request for information on to the new housing law specialty clinic, Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO). In 1998 when the ORHT was first established, it was predicted that Napanee sittings would be required for one-half day every two weeks. There are no longer any Napanee sittings as noted earlier in this report. In fact, effective October 1, 2001, there is no local access to ORHT forms, formerly available at the MTO office in the Industrial Mall. 31 Total appeals to the Social Assistance Review Board (predecessor to the SBT) in 1995/96: 42, in 1997: 55, in 1997/98: 39, in 1998/99: 39 (Annual Reports). 32 In Hastings County, the Social Services Department routinely refers people being cut off or denied assistance to HPELS for legal advice at the "pre-internal review" stage. The Prince Edward-Lennox & Addington County Social Services Department has continued to refuse to follow this practice, stating in a November 24, 2000 letter to HPELS that It is [my] view that in such a sample situation the client should first reflect upon their actions and their personal responsibility in the consequences. Directly referring and encouraging persons to Legal Services may not be to the clients (sic) interest in the long term. In a June, 2001 letter to Leona Dombrowsky, MPP, the Social Services Department agreed that people objecting to the decisions they receive will be advised of their right to legal representation when they "appeal" and the availability of legal counsel through legal clinics. To our knowledge as of October, 2001, even this "post-internal review" information is not being provided. 40

49 Employment Insurance Board of Referees and Umpire Last year, there were 147 sittings of either the Board of Referees or the Umpire for the Quinte Management Area which includes Hastings, Prince Edward, and L&A Counties but not including the 30% of the population living in the Amherstview-Bath area (these residents are part of another Management Area). It is hard to predict from these numbers what the volume of potential clients might be. We also know that the practices of HRDC discourage the completion of appeals and that most appellants have not been getting legal advice. Canada Pension Plan Review Tribunal and Pensions Appeal Board Between January 1, 2000 and September 28, 2001, the Office of the Commissioner of Review Tribunals received 25 appeals from persons in Lennox & Addington County. If a case is lost before the Review Tribunal, it can only be appealed to the Pensions Appeal Board with leave. There were 17 Pensions Appeal Board (PAB) cases originating from the Napanee area in the 2001 to date. 33 Level of Court Activity Small Claims Court Disputes The Small Claims Court sits approximately 14 times per year in Napanee. Court sittings occur in the north in Kaladar only twice per year - in April and October. Residents can file documents at the Kaladar SCC office from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month. Current Legal Aid Ontario Funded Service Activity Community Legal Clinics and Student Legal Aid Ontario Statistics We reviewed the statistics of RLS and QLA - who are currently offering services in L&A County - and HPELS who is offering minimal services on a discretionary basis in that area. Please note that all these services are being offered but are not being publicly advertised. They are only the barest indication of the degree of need. They are most informative for pinpointing some of the areas of law where needs are already being expressed. For 2000, the statistics for RLS and HPELS are as follows: RLS HPELS TOTAL Summary Advice Brief Services Case Files Statistic obtained from Barbara Naegele, PAB Executive Director, September 21,

50 For the first six months of 2001: RLS HPELS TOTAL Summary Advice Brief Services Case Files QLA estimates that a range of one to six people are seen at their weekly clinic held Tuesday evenings at the Napanee LAO Area Office from 7:00 9:00 p.m. They also opened 21 files in the first six months of Regarding law reform initiatives and test case litigation, HPELS reported a legal challenge to workfare requirements in L&A County (a three-month disqualification from receiving Ontario Works benefits as a result). The case was settled in their client s favour while the Divisional Court appeal was pending. HPELS is frequently asked to provide speakers for the inmate population at the Quinte Detention Centre. Staff travelled to the Centre four times in 2000 and three times in the first eight months of The most commonly requested topics are housing (illegal evictions and disrepair) and social assistance issues (particularly Community Start-up benefits). Many of these inmates are released into L&A, Hastings, or Prince Edward Counties. In L&A County, RLS has done public legal education sessions on wills, powers of attorney, elder abuse, and Ontario Works and the mandatory participation requirements. They have also given sessions to non-profit Boards of Directors on their duties and liabilities. Legal Issues arising from Services In southern L&A County, QLA saw the following types of issues, in order of volume: Social assistance and pension benefits; Criminal and provincial offences law; Contract and debtor/creditor; Employment; and Housing. HPELS responded to calls from all over L&A County on the following issues, ranked by volume: Housing law; Workers compensation; Social assistance (OW and ODSPA); Criminal injuries compensation; and Other. Primary issues seen by RLS in the north were: Social assistance (OW and ODSPA); CPP disability appeals; Family law; and Criminal law. 42

51 Identified Current Barriers to Accessing Legal Clinic Services: Current barriers identified by clinic staff include: A high proportion of residents without telephones and many without touch-tone telephones needed to use voice mail systems effectively; Cell phones are largely inoperable in some parts of the County; Residents with telephones but long distance calls blocked by Bell Canada; Poor telephone line quality hampering internet access; Limited access to faxing machines, even at fee-for-service locations; Inability to travel or to find someone to transport them; Low literacy levels; Lack of opportunity to share information or provide materials about legal issues due to lack of community/social/cultural meeting places where this might take place; Extremely low or non-existent legal literacy level; Lack of a physical presence in the service area; and Inability to use self-help methods of assistance offered by legal clinic staff effectively. RLS previously advised LAO in 1999 of the special needs of residents of northern L&A County, including 34 : Sparsely populated rural areas with serious socio-economic problems; Little or no local access to either social services or the justice system; Serious barriers to victims of domestic violence (100 women in 1998 had difficulty accessing appropriate legal help); and Aging population subject to abuse in isolated settings (about 1/3 of the population is above the age of 55). LAO Lennox & Addington Area Office - Napanee Number of People Seen in the Area Office LAO asked Area Offices to stop collecting statistics several years ago so we do not know how many people visit the Area Office on a daily basis, what kind of problems they have (legal or otherwise) and where they are referred to or how they are dealt with. The staff report that they are very busy, but they do not have a tracking or statistical program to document or analyze all the inquiries they receive or their workload volumes. We know how many people are issued legal aid certificates, use the services of the Advice Lawyer at the special clinic on Wednesday afternoons, and use the Duty Counsel provided in the Superior Court of Justice in family matters and the Criminal Court. Appendix XIII explains the services currently offered by the LAO Advice Lawyer and Family Law and Criminal Law Duty Counsel. 34 As a result of some of these problems, RLS has been offering services outside traditional clinic law areas including: Summary advice services and occasional representation in family and criminal law matters Advice and representation in provincial offences Advice and representation in small claims court matters including consumer and debt issues Advice and assistance in the preparation of wills and powers of attorney Elder abuse. 43

52 Legal Aid Certificate Statistics For the 2000/2001 fiscal year (the most recent period for which statistics were provided by LAO), certificates were issued in L&A County by the Area Office as follows: Criminal 885 Civil 494 Total 1,379 In areas of clinic law practice, only 12 certificates were issued to private bar lawyers; eight were for Social Benefits Tribunal appeals, and four were for Criminal Injuries Compensation Board applications. There were no certificates issued for Employment Insurance appeals, landlord and tenant, or Workers Compensation matters. Most of the civil certificates were for family law issues, but there were also a large number of immigration-related certificates - likely related to the needs of the prison population - and parole and other prison boards appeals. Legal Aid Ontario Advice Lawyer Approximately two people per week see the Advice Lawyer at the weekly Wednesday afternoon clinic at the Napanee Area Office. Approximately 100 people were seen in the last year. Statistics are kept manually and non-uniformly. It is difficult to extrapolate much from the data. It is not clear how many inquiries resulted in referrals to other services (like the legal clinics), whether people were referred for legal aid certificates, or how extensive the advice or assistance was. It is unclear whether the services were offered in person or by phone. Most of the services appear to have been offered to people residing in southern L&A County, largely Napanee. There was very little advice given to people residing in northern areas. The type of problems seen include, in order of demand from highest to lowest: Family; Criminal and provincial offences law; Contract/debt/Small Claims Court; Housing (landlord and tenant); Estates; Social assistance (ODSPA and Ontario Works); Workplace Safety and Insurance Board; Adoption; Employment Insurance; and Various miscellaneous matters including freedom of information, notary public, power of attorney, and by-laws. Family Law Duty Counsel People Assisted for Fiscal Year : 764 People Assisted YTD August, 2001:

53 Criminal Law Duty Counsel People Assisted for Fiscal Year : 2,254 People Assisted YTD August, 2001: 724 Other Access to Justice Related Activity Family Law Information Centre This centre has only just begun to collect statistics on usage, type of issue, and resolution so information was not available for this report. Ministry of Labour - Employment Standards Branch Although extensive data is published by this branch, it is all reported by region (i.e. in this case, the East ) and is therefore not helpful in predicting quantitatively the level of potential need for this work in L&A County. Ombudsman s Office The Ombudsman receives complaints about provincial matters, including complaints from people regarding losing appeals before tribunals, complaints about public servants, and a host of other issues. The Ombudsman s role is to provide the public with a means of redressing unfairness or error in the provision of provincial government services. Statistics are collected by geographic area and cover the entire provincial riding of Hastings- Frontenac-Lennox & Addington. Eighty-four complaints were made, excluding those made against the Ministry of Correctional Services, in 2000/2001. For the province as a whole, Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal complaints went up 95% from 89 to 175 complaints. Legal Aid Ontario was up 95% from 74 to 144 complaints. The Ontario Student Loan Support Program went up 43% from 166 to 238 complaints. Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing Enforcement Branch This unit is charged with the investigation of offences under the Tenant Protection Act, although it appears that not every case that is referred to them is eventually recorded as a complaint. 35 A statistical report for the year 2000 indicates that no complaints were received from L&A County tenants. Twenty-nine complaints were recorded from the Counties of Hastings and Prince Edward. 36 Office of the Worker Advisor It is not possible to obtain information specifically for residents of L&A County who are using the services of this government office. The coverage area for the assigned Worker Advisor extends from Trenton to Brockville. The area north of Highway 7 is shared with a second Worker Advisor. 35 See Beyond Band-Aids: A Community Response to Homelessness, HPELS, June 2001, pp which identifies problems with the operations of the Investigations Unit. Copies are available from HPELS. 36 Report received from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing January 22,

54 Ontario Human Rights Commission The following table depicts OHRC files reviewed for Lennox & Addington County in 2000 and 2001, broken down by complainants and respondents living in L&A County. The types of complaints are not known YTD Complainants 5 4 Respondents 1 3 TOTAL 6 7 (3) Other Information Collected (i) Review of Other Studies of Lennox & Addington County We were surprised that so few studies of L&A County existed. In spite of our best efforts and questions to all the research participants, we were only able to locate a few small studies of L&A County issues. The Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Health Unit produced a Social Profile Report in May, 2000 which basically summarized the Statistics Canada data for the entire coverage area. Unlike other communities, there do not appear to have been comprehensive assessments of community needs or issues done by a social planning council, the United Way, task forces, or community agencies. The need for children s mental health (1990), youth housing (2001), public transportation (unknown), and training (1999) have been specifically examined. However, broader social issues like hunger, poverty, risk of homelessness, and adequacy and affordability of housing appear not to have been studied. The Eastern Central Ontario Training Board (ECOTB) prepared a report entitled Focus on Training late in It was the first comprehensive project to allow for the local analysis of key labour market, labour force, and economic development conditions. 37 They studied what they called the South Labour Market Area ( SLMA which included Napanee, Prince Edward County, Quinte West, Belleville, and other smaller townships) and the North Labour Market Area ( NLMA which included northern L&A County, Bancroft, and surrounding areas). Relevant excerpts of the report are attached as an Appendix XII. Not surprisingly, income from both employment and other sources are lower in these areas than in the province as a whole. There are higher unemployment rates. In 1996, the provincial average was 9.1%, with the rates in SLMA and NLMA at 10.4% and 15.5%, respectively. The provincial participation rate was 66.3%, compared to SLMA and NLMA at 66% and 53%, respectively. The NLMA Target Employment Index was at a rate equivalent to Newfoundland. Self-employment as a percentage of total employment was greater in both areas than in the rest of the province. Furthermore, self-employment incomes are less than half of conventional employment incomes across Ontario. Both areas also have a significantly higher economic dependency on government transfer payments than the province as a whole. 37 FOCUS ON TRAINING: Report and Recommendations on Training and Adjustment Services for ECOTB Region 1999/00, Eastern Central Ontario Training Board,

55 The Lennox & Addington/Prince Edward County Housing Help Centre prepared a report in June, In 1999, 17 youths were in need of supervised housing and sought the services of their Centre. In 2000, 22 youths were in desperate need of housing. Their report indicated that Homeless youth are usually escaping an environment of physical, sexual, emotional abuse and/or drug and alcohol addiction by parents or guardians, causing these youths to abandon their family home and trust their future to the streets. 38 (ii) Distances to Potential Service Delivery Locations This information is provided to help legal clinic Boards decide where the best location is to offer satellite office services (if LAO provides the funding to do so) and to decide on geographic boundaries for service within L&A County between the two community legal clinics. Distances were provided by the City of Kingston Information Systems Division. DISTANCES FOR EASTERN REGION KALADAR NORTHBROOK CLOYNE TAMWORTH AMHERSTVIEW NAPANEE NAPANEE SHARBOT LAKE BELLEVILLE MADOC KINGSTON (iii) Distances within Coverage Area of Lennox & Addington County This information is provided to illustrate the size of the community being served. For example, in Addington Highlands, residents are widely dispersed over a large area. This will impact on clinic staff if home visits are required. LENNOX & ADDINGTON COUNTY AREA BY MUNICIPALITY (sq kms) County of Lennox & Addington Township of Addington Highlands Town of Greater Napanee Township of Loyalist Township of Stone Mills 2, , (iv) Availability of Internet Connections and Telephones Many people do not have touch-tone phones and many have no phones at all. All communications, including internet, suffer from poor line quality. Not every area of the county was reported to have internet access. There have been several locations in northern L&A and Frontenac Counties identified by Industry Canada s Community Access Program as requiring assistance to provide those communities with affordable access to the Internet. Locations include Northbrook, Cloyne, Kaladar, Tichborne, Snow Road, Verona, Sharbot Lake, and Godfrey. Ten municipal libraries in L&A County offer free internet access to all library card holders. These libraries operate in Amherstview, Bath, Camden East, Enterprise, Napanee, Odessa, South Fredericksburg, Stella, Tamworth, and Yarker. 38 Our Community Requires Youth Housing, Housing Help Centre, (June 2001) at 4. 47

56 Access to public faxing machines is also limited. Only the public libraries in Napanee and Amherstview have these available on a fee for service basis. (iv) Legal Clinic Willingness to Service Lennox & Addington County HPELS and RLS are both interested in serving L&A County, conditional upon receiving the funding to accomplish this satisfactorily. HPELS has been promised two staff positions and operational funding. RLS has been promised some operational funding. Both HPELS and RLS will prepare a response to this needs assessment report and will prepare an operational plan and budget for submission to LAO for consideration. Queen's Legal Aid is willing to continue its intake clinic in Napanee for residents of southern L&A County, extended up into Tamworth in central L&A County. This will not require new funding. QLA is considering changing some aspects of how it offers services and will be considering the findings of this needs assessment report in coming up with new strategies. 48

57 Part III Conclusions and Recommendations (1) Findings Emerging from the Research We have summarized only the most important findings from our research. (i) Met and Unmet Legal Needs There are unmet legal needs in all areas of clinic law. With slight variations between northern and southern L&A County, priorities of greatest needs would appear to be: 1. Ontario Works Act 2. Ontario Disability Support Program Act 3. Housing law 4. Employment law 5. Consumer law 6. Other income maintenance programs (such as Canada Pension Plan Disability, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, Employment Insurance). Assistance in other areas of clinic law will also be needed and include: Criminal injuries compensation; Human rights; and Education law; There are unmet legal needs in non-clinic law areas for: Representation of parents involved with the Children s Aid Society; Family law; Young offenders; and Correctional law. There are more unmet legal needs in the north than in the south in non-clinic law areas. In particular, family law advice and assistance for completing and filing court documents are needed. Criminal law needs remain unmet in the north where there is no access to the Advice Lawyer or Duty Counsel. (ii) Special Challenges in Service Delivery The following difficulties are paramount: Communication difficulties (phone/internet/no human face); Transportation; Distances; Low level of literacy; Isolation (in both urban and non-urban low income populations); Significant non-urban population; and Significant differences between communities in the north and south. 49

58 (iii) Other Barriers to Accessing Justice There are some challenges that may be unique to L&A County and include: Extremely low levels of legal literacy; Overall lack of awareness or knowledge of current access to justice programs. Access to justice services are broadly defined to include all services whether they are funded or provided by LAO or not 39 ; Lack of long distance toll-free telephone access to some critical services; Lack of systemic analysis or response to social problems; Fragmented service delivery between LAO-funded and other access to justice programs; Piecemeal approach to meeting legal needs of people living on a low income; Perceived reluctance or resistance to change within the community as a whole; Perception that community is significantly behind the times; and Lack of access to Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal services. It should be noted that this report is being written at a time that LAO is rethinking how it delivers services to low-income people, especially in non-clinic law areas. Nothing in this report should be interpreted as a critique of how the local LAO Area Office is carrying out its current responsibilities. (2) Recommended Best Practices Based on what we have learned carrying out this study and what we now know about what is needed and what various players are willing to provide, we make recommendations for what services are needed and how they might best be delivered. (i) What Services or Service Enhancements are Needed? Services in all clinic law areas are needed. In non-clinic law areas, additional resources would provide needed enhancements to family and criminal law services. Access to justice initiatives in L&A County suffer both from a lack of resources and a lack of coordination of available resources. We could enhance what is currently available by providing an opportunity for all the current players in the access to justice field to come together for a series of meetings to brainstorm possible improvements. Current services are patchwork and difficult to decipher or comprehend by the average person needing the service. We have a unique opportunity in L&A County to change the way business has traditionally been done in legal aid service delivery. It appears that all staff are willing to consider new ways of doing things and to think outside the box. It will be important to build on the current goodwill and commitment of access to justice providers. (ii) What Legal Issues and Needs should have Priority if Resources are Limited? It is evident that the extreme needs in L&A County cannot adequately be met by the addition of two positions at HPELS and the provision of operational funding for HPELS and RLS to expand officially into L&A County. The Boards of RLS and HPELS will have to make difficult 39 See Appendix IX for a listing of current resources. 50

59 decisions about which needs and issues should get priority. The casework priorities must be set relevant to the greatest legal need in the community or greatest level of injustice or instability caused to people living on a low income. A legal clinic s focus is always on ensuring a roof over people s heads and food on the table as a minimum requirement. Priorities should be in clinic law areas, with priorities as found in the study. In the south, the top three priorities would be: 1. Ontario Works Act 2. Housing law 3. Ontario Disability Support Program. In the north, the top three priorities would be: 1. Ontario Works Act 2. Ontario Disability Support Program 3. Other income maintenance programs. (iii) Who should Provide Clinic Law Services? To meet the expressed needs of L&A County low-income residents, there must be a community legal clinic commitment and presence in both northern and southern L&A County. The two communities are very distinct, and the legal issues and needs are slightly different as this study has shown. It is also important to maximize available resources and reduce the need for client and staff travel. Community clinics based in adjoining counties and QLA are committed to helping lowincome residents of L&A County. In the course of working together collaboratively on this study, we set the groundwork for future partnerships and projects. We need to build on the strengths of the existing Boards and staff of the clinics. People in the north are best served by a clinic - in this case, RLS which already serves a similar community in North Frontenac and specializes in the needs of rural populations. There are already strong social service linkages in the area north of Highway 7 that RLS can capitalize upon. People in central and southern L&A County are best served by a clinic - in this case, HPELS which already serves similar populations in Hastings County. For many years, QLA has committed student resources to serve the legal needs of L&A County residents, in spite of the Ontario Legal Aid Plan s inability to fund community legal clinic services there. Given their willingness to continue to offer services, the enthusiasm brought to the process by volunteer law students, and the limited resources available from LAO for this expansion, it is most prudent to maximize involvement of QLA in serving the needs of people living on a low income that cannot be met by the community clinics. As clinic law providers, we are recommending that at minimum, the two community clinics and QLA coordinate services as much as possible and undertake a joint outreach plan as we roll-out clinic law services more formally for L&A County residents. In the longer term, it would be sensible to maintain ongoing linkages between the two legal clinics and QLA, meeting quarterly to identify systemic issues and develop strategies to improve client service delivery and implement joint community development and law reform 51

60 initiatives. In this way, we can ensure maximum impact with limited resources. We look forward to undertaking this venture, building on the strengths each of the clinics brings to the table and sharing resources to get the work done most effectively. (iv) From Where Should Services be Provided? The most appropriate potential clinic office locations are Cloyne/Northbook and Napanee. In order to provide quality individual client services, offices should be independent of other service providers, if possible, and safeguard the privacy of the individuals using the service. If more convenient, residents in the central area (Township of Stone Mills) can be served by HPELS through its existing satellite office in Madoc in Centre Hastings. To a limited extent, and particularly during the roll-out of clinic law services, access to HPELS and RLS by a toll-free telephone line would be essential. Arrangements have already been made for these services. However, given the special needs of L&A County residents (especially literacy), advice and self-help services by telephone would not be sufficient. Furthermore, given the lack of access to the internet, resources spent on website development or other technological innovations would be inappropriate. (v) What Mix of Clinic Law Services are Needed? Due to the high potential degree of need and the systemic nature of some of the legal issues, there must be a multi-faceted approach which includes: Information, advice, and representation to individual clients (both by phone and in person); Community development which includes outreach, legal education, increasing legal literacy, and community organizing; and Law reform and systemic advocacy initiatives. Although it would be tempting to simply serve clients individually as they come through the door, it is clear that a more systemic approach is needed to have the maximum impact on the new community in the shortest amount of time. If we met only individual client needs, we would do a disservice to the larger community of people living on a low income. Additionally, once our services become known and legal rights awareness builds, clinic staff would soon be overwhelmed and unable to provide more than band-aid solutions to systemic problems which would be an inefficient use of limited resources. Individual client service delivery should be phased in while a comprehensive strategy for outreach and improvements to legal literacy is developed and implemented. Given the relatively low level of current Tribunal activity (relative to the number of legal issues identified) an extensive public legal awareness campaign using community development methods is indicated. We must work not just with low-income people but also with sympathetic service providers who are interested in improving the legal awareness and literacy levels of their client community. Additionally, we need to participate in or encourage an analysis of problems being experienced in the low-income community. We also need to do advocacy with government agencies like the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal to remove current barriers to accessing justice. 52

61 We must also consider the most appropriate methods of individual service delivery for residents of L&A County. Self-help and brief services models clinic staff currently use to cope with excessive demand for services in their catchment areas may not meet the needs of this community. It appears that many would be currently unable to do self-advocacy even if provided with information about laws and procedures. More face-to-face and hands-on approaches are indicated. Within the constrained resources, it will not be possible to offer a full-time clinic presence in L&A County, but providing access to in-person legal advice on a daily basis should be attempted. It might be possible to maximize coverage by coordinating the staffing schedules of the QLA intake clinic, the LAO Advice Lawyer clinic, the FLIC, and the community clinics. Furthermore, these services working cooperatively could offer crosstraining in intake, referrals, and the law, and consider developing service delivery protocols and standards to maximize the availability of information, advice, and assistance while reducing duplication and overlap. If all players were willing, this initiative could be the beginning of a seamless web of client services in both clinic and non-clinic law areas. (3) Next Steps This report is being provided to the: LAO Board of Directors; LAO Policy Department; LAO Area Office Staff; QLA Review Counsel; Boards of Directors and Staff of RLS and HPELS; Research Participants; and Residents of Lennox & Addington County and interested others (upon request). The Boards of RLS and HPELS will be reviewing the findings of this report over the coming months. They will be preparing operational and strategic plans for service delivery which they will submit to LAO. The plan will include the type of staffing required, physical facilities, and operational needs. Ultimately, the level and type of service offered will be contingent upon the funding provided by LAO and priorities set by the Boards of HPELS and RLS. The only current certainty is that HPELS will receive funding for two staff positions to assist in the expansion efforts. QLA will be using the findings of the report to improve their current service delivery and will be meeting with representatives of the two community legal clinics to coordinate services. The Local Needs Assessment Advisory Committee will await the results of the deliberations of the Boards of the two community legal clinics. Once these have been completed, members of the Local Needs Assessment Advisory Committee will continue to provide advice on service delivery pending the election or appointment of community representatives to the two community clinic boards. 53

62 (4) Observations and Limitations of the Study We think it is useful to make observations about what we learned conducting this unprecedented study of legal needs and what the limitations might be to this particular study. Furthermore, we believe we have done as comprehensive an assessment of legal needs as was possible within the funding and staffing constraints, but we will set out our qualifications on the reliability of some of the data and the usefulness of collecting some of the statistics. LAO s new Policy Department is working on developing a needs assessment approach for all LAO service delivery initiatives. Although most legal clinics have historically carried out some form of needs assessment in their client communities as part of their ongoing work, a comprehensive study like this one is novel. The Policy Department staff will be reviewing needs assessment reports from the 14 new communities over the coming months. We hope our observations will assist their important work. All three clinics participating in this study were already involved in providing some services in L&A County. Clinic staff were already aware of most of what this study discovered. The findings in this report regarding issue priorities confirmed what staff had already intuited. What was surprising was the degree of need, the bleakness of the situation in L&A County, and the strong sense of an oppressed low-income community (we admit to feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work that will be required to meet the legal needs of lowincome people and really make a difference in their lives). Even though undertaking such a mammoth effort in the future would not be possible, desirable, or necessary, there were many useful by-products of this study of a new community which are explored below. (i) Qualitative Data Most of our interviews were held with service providers rather than people living on a low income. Our interview format was designed more to obtain information from service providers than from individuals. This potential limitation was probably overcome by holding a focus group with people living on a low income as part of the needs assessment and using the members of the Local Needs Assessment Advisory Committee as a focus group once we had synthesized our draft findings. This type of research necessarily relies on individual perceptions and opinions. Sometimes these perceptions are not based on facts or factually verifiable. Findings are not based on a statistical analysis of data. However, this appears to be in keeping with the philosophy and methods of community action research and appears to have gathered accurate and reliable data. The needs assessors noted that it was difficult to objectively listen to the information being provided by the participants where flagrant violations of the rights of low-income people were being described. Often times, the participants raised issues as problems without understanding that these problems were in fact legal issues and could have been resolved though advice, advocacy, or using existing legal avenues such as appeal processes. It was tempting to comment that these violations should not have occurred, and we sometimes provided some impromptu rights advice which we felt might have compromised our role as researchers/assessors. However, we do not believe that the data we collected was less reliable as a result (and we unwittingly began to do community development work as a result). 54

63 The sheer breadth of information we were trying to collect regarding legal needs was overwhelming. It was impossible to get a reliable picture of family and criminal law needs, for example. As these areas of law are not usually offered by clinic staff, and LAO had been doing a limited assessment of the need for supervisory Duty Counsel services during the course of our study, we do not feel our results were compromised. In fact, many of our findings corroborate the findings in their confidential report currently before LAO s Senior Management Committee. We remain concerned that the restrictions on legal aid certificates in family law matters and the difficulty finding a lawyer in northern L&A County to act on a certificate remain significant barriers to accessing justice for low-income people. We experienced difficulty interviewing people who actually resided in the Amherstview area or in central L&A County (Township of Stone Mills). We are concerned that we may have missed some information that might have increased our understanding of the particular legal needs of people in those areas or how they might best be served. (ii) Quantitative Data The analysis of the demographic information was based on Statistics Canada census data from The 1996 census was only a partial census so it is possible that some of the data was less reliable than in a full census year such as However, given the amount of other data we compiled, including the qualitative research findings and the degree of accuracy necessary for the purposes of this study, we are confident that this was not a significant limitation. We determined that we could not draw too many conclusions from the data collected regarding the number of people currently receiving government transfer payments, the level of tribunal and court activity, and current use statistics for access to justice providers. However, we felt it was important to collect it so that we could think about what it might tell us about current legal needs or possibly the difference that offering clinic law services might make in the future. Given what we learned about the prevalent lack of awareness of legal rights and problem-solving capabilities, it is clear that any reliance on this data as an indicator of need would be misleading. Current activity levels would not be a good predictor of future need for information, advice, or representation. (iii) Carrying out the Study It was an enormous undertaking. The number of people involved in helping to direct the study, carrying out the needs assessments, and reviewing drafts of the final report introduced extra complexity to what was already a comprehensive process. The study itself was very time-consuming and would be difficult to repeat in the future. However, there were many positive spin-offs to the exercise as described below. The measurement of legal need is a largely unexplored area of research, and there is no consensus on how it might best be carried out. We felt it best to push the envelope and obtain any relevant data to explore whether any of this data was a useful indicator or predictor of need for clinic law services. Most of the data regarding income maintenance programs and level of tribunal and court activity was almost impossible to obtain. Countless hours were spent chasing people down for information. This task, if a useful predictor of legal need and if necessary in the future, should be done by LAO rather than individual clinics. It is simply too resource-intensive. 55

64 (iv) Useful Spin-offs of the Study Having the staff and the resources to undertake this study meant we were able to accomplish a number of other objectives in addition to the needs assessment. These included: Increasing the awareness among participants of: - Legal aid services already available in L&A County; - Differences between legal clinics and legal aid; - The commitment of QLA, RLS, and HPELS to the new community; - Other potential sources of government assistance or advocacy; - Laws affecting income, work, and housing; and - Legal educational resources such as CLEO pamphlets; Naming some of the current instances where people s rights are not being respected while identifying some systemic issues in need of resolution; and Exposing the impact that some of the current rights violations are having on the lowincome community. The process of bringing together the two community clinics and QLA to do the study was enormously helpful. It helped us to: Understand more about how we offered current client services; Work through in a constructive way the differences between the clinics and our relative strengths and weakness; and Envision and create the potential for future co-operative ventures to meet the legal needs in the community. Meeting with other LAO-funded service providers and staff working in other access to justice programs (who were participants in the study) provided a unique opportunity to understand more about the similarities and differences between our efforts and to think outside the box about service delivery. It helped break down some of the imaginary walls between services provided. Meeting with many participants and actually writing the report and being able to think through what would work best for the new community have provided a good foundation for the writer (who is also the Executive Director of HPELS) to identify and think through operational challenges created by the expansion project. The intensity of the experience may have provided more insight for the next step of the process than would have been the case had we contracted out" the needs assessment. The report itself, although lengthy and detailed in a way that might discourage all but the most committed reader, is a very useful document for: Clinic Boards to understand the enormity of the challenge in taking on a new geographic area, particularly where the plight of the low-income residents of the new community appears so much more dire than in our existing communities (the Board and staff are already overwhelmed with current catchment area demands for service and the need to continually redefine priorities, restructure services, and to turn people away in some instances); 56

65 Clinic staff as a basis from which to begin to structure services in a way that meets the unique needs of L&A County; Orienting current clinic staff and new hirings to the new community and to the issues faced by this community; and Providing the necessary detail to assist the Boards and staff to create a strategic plan for 2002 and the next five years. Other information collected in the course of the study has enabled us to: Create a database on services available in the community to which helpful referrals can be made; Understand the social safety net in L&A County; and Create a mailing list of contacts in the new community which will assist in future outreach efforts. 57

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