The Law Foundation of Ontario sponsors [email protected]

Partnership to focus on public legal education, awareness and empowerment

The Law Foundation of Ontario has sponsored a [email protected] lawyer for two-years. This partnership is a critical step toward building a program that can educate low-income workers about their legal rights; the steps they may take to enforce their rights on their own; and the availability of summary advice, brief legal service and representation.

Responsible for outreach, development of self-help and public education materials, and an employment law practice, which supports these two endeavors, the lawyer will play an important role in moving the legal profession, service providers, worker advocates, and low-income employees toward a shared understanding of the need and means by which workers may assert their legal rights at work. The advocate will organize and provide legal education and self-help materials to these groups. To facilitate this, an outreach campaign and website will be developed and engaged in the delivery of the program.

The partnership will develop and distribute to service providers and, in some cases workers, materials providing advice on the law, legal letters, and forms; template instructions to judges; and sample court pleadings that will help users present employment cases in court. These will focus on the needs of low-income workers.

Also the initiative will see the development of a part-time employment law practice, which serves low-income workers who have qualified for the service based on their legal need, number of dependants and household income and assets.

Legal service to low-income workers with employment disputes is a critical part of any meaningful outreach, public legal education and/or provision of self-help materials. Many low-income workers and those that serve them in the community lack the experience and understanding of the legal system necessary to identify legal issues and to navigate court processes alone - even with well-crafted self-help materials. Also literacy, language, cognitive ability and vulnerability often limit a worker's ability to enforce his or her rights.

In such instances workers and their service providers and advocates need access to advice, brief service and/or representation. Without this, efforts to create awareness and self-help aids will be of little use. Presently, there is no other source of free employment law support available to all low-income or needy Ontarians. For this reason, the project must be available to dispense summary advice about the law and the steps required to engage courts and tribunals on a self-help basis. Furthermore the experience of serving real-life clients is essential to identifying public legal education, self-help and awareness materials that are tailored to the true needs of low-income workers.

Downloads and links

The Law Foundation of Ontario website

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