[ Browse by Service Category : Criminal Justice and Legal Services : Sub-Topics of Legal Services (25) ]

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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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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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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Identification Clinics

Programs that assist individuals who have inadequate or no ID, particularly those who are homeless or have little or no income, to obtain or replace identifying documents. May include assisting clients with application forms, filing and paying for applications on the client's behalf, providing a mailing address when necessary for delivery, and offering ongoing safe storage for the documents.

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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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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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School System Advocacy

Programs that assist families in their interactions with the school system which may include help with school registration, enrollment of children in special programs, intervention on behalf of students facing disciplinary action or expulsion and other activities which facilitate communication between families and school staff.

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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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