[ Browse by Service Category : Criminal Justice and Legal Services : Sub-Topics of Legal Services (68) ]

Benefits Assistance

Programs that provide assistance for people who are having difficulty understanding and/or obtaining grants, payments, services or other benefits for which they are eligible. The programs may help people understand the eligibility criteria for benefits, the benefits provided by the program, the payment process and the rights of beneficiaries; provide consultation and advice; help them complete benefits application forms; negotiate on their behalf with benefits administration staff; and/or represent them in administrative processes or judicial litigation. Included are benefits counselling organizations that offer a range of advocacy services and legal aid programs that offer more formalized legal assistance.

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Citizenship/Immigration/Refugee Services

Programs that administer the laws in Canada which govern the conditions under which immigrants, refugees and visitors can legally enter and/or remain in the country or become citizens; and/or which provide assistance for people who need legal advice about how to proceed. Included are organizations that review and make administrative decisions regarding immigration, refugee and citizenship applications as well as those that help people complete and file application forms and/or appeal decisions.

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Certificates/Forms Assistance

Programs that help people obtain, complete and/or file official forms, certificates, documents, applications or other paperwork that is required to apply for benefits or services, initiate or respond to legal action or to officially handle or document the occurrence of a transaction; that help people acquire copies of official documents on file elsewhere; or that review legal documentation an individual has received to help explain its meaning.

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Commissioner of Oaths

A public official in Canada who is authorized to administer oaths, affirmations and solemn declarations for people making affidavits or statutory declarations.

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Discrimination Assistance

Programs that provide assistance for people who believe that they have been treated unfairly or denied normal privileges based on their age, gender, race or ethnocultural origin, nationality, religion, disability, source of income, sexual orientation, same-sex partner status, criminal convictions, political beliefs, marital status or family status. Discrimination protections may be covered by provisions of the Charter of Rights, but are more frequently addressed by statutory law at the federal, provincial or municipal level.

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Elder Law

Programs that provide information and guidance for individuals who need assistance in the area of law which relates to the rights and needs of older adults, especially in the areas of age discrimination, consumer fraud, estate planning and management, living trusts, trust administration, probate, property law, retirement planning, pension benefits, income security programs, health care and medication needs, disability planning, long-term care alternatives, health care decisions, elder abuse, guardianships and conservatorships.

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Estate Planning Assistance

Programs that offer a review of options and assistance to people who want to provide for the administration and/or protection of their assets during their lifetime, develop a plan for managing their finances in the event of a disabling illness, prepare binding instructions for the health care they wish to receive or avoid should they become terminally ill, make arrangements for the disposition of their assets with a minimum amount of taxation upon their death and provide for the administration of their estate should their spouse or other beneficiaries be incapable of managing their affairs. Estate planning provides an opportunity for individuals to make their wishes known and to name the person(s) who will be responsible for carrying out those directives. Tools available during the estate planning process include a Last Will and Testament, durable power of attorney for health care, durable financial power of attorney and a directive to physicians such as a living will, natural death directive or other document recognized by the province. A revocable living trust may also be appropriate in some circumstances.

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Family Law

Programs that provide assistance for people who are involved in disputes or legal actions which affect their domestic relationships.

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General Legal Aid

Programs that provide legal counselling and/or representation for low-income individuals who need assistance in routine legal matters, usually in the area of bankruptcy, housing, public benefits, family law, elder law or immigration/naturalization.

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Insurance Law

Programs that provide assistance for people who want to appeal the denial of automobile, health, homeowners, renters or life insurance or cutbacks in insurance benefits; who need to file an insurance claim; or who need to initiate or respond to litigation regarding the settlement of an insurance claim.

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Landlord/Tenant Assistance

Programs that provide assistance, information and support for tenants and/or landlords who are involved in rental housing disputes; or which administer provincial laws or local ordinances which govern rent control and other aspects of tenant/landlord relations.

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Legal Assistance Referral Services

Programs that maintain lists of lawyers, paralegals, mediators and other legal professionals and services, and link people who need legal assistance with those who specialize in the required area of law.

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Long Term Care Ombudsman Programs

Programs that investigate and attempt to resolve complaints made by or on behalf of residents of nursing facilities, residential care homes, assisted living facilities and other supervised living facilities for older adults. The program also promotes policies and practices that improve the quality of life, health, safety, welfare and rights of residents; monitors laws, regulations and policies that affect those who live in long-term care facilities; provides the public with information about long-term care options; and promotes the development of consumer organizations concerned about long-term care. Long term care falls under provincial/territorial jurisdiction and where no specific Ombudsman program is in place, appropriate complaints are directed to the provincial Ombudsman.

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Notary Public Services

Public officials who are authorized by the provincial government to administer oaths and affirmations, take affidavits and depositions, attest to the authenticity of signatures and take acknowledgment of and certify deeds and other conveyances.

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Patient Rights Assistance

Programs that provide information, education, advocacy and/or other forms of legal assistance which relate to the rights of people who are patients in a health or mental health care facility, who are residents of convalescent or other long or short-term care facilities including adult residential care homes, or who are incapacitated and are being cared for at home by family members. Services may also be available to significant others of these individuals.

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Probate Assistance

Programs that provide assistance for people who are involved in proceedings that deal with the establishment of decedents' wills, the settlement of decedents' estates or the appointment of a guardian or conservator for adults or children who are unable to manage their own affairs.

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Traffic/Parking Violation Assistance

Programs that provide information and assistance for people who have violated one of the provisions of provincial motor vehicle codes or local parking or traffic ordinances and have questions about payments, their rights and their alternatives.

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Wrongful Action Compensation Administration

Programs that administer payment of wrongful injury, illness or death claims or claims for other losses involving acts of negligence or incompetence or actions of another type in situations where the courts have ordered the responsible organization to set aside funds as a means of reparation to victims. Examples include compensation for losses due to exposure to asbestos, thalidomide, residential school abuse or government actions such as the Japanese internment during World War II.

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The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.


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