Research Reports on Law and The Family Highlight Access to Justice Gaps and Evaluate Potential Solutions
The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family (“CRILF”) operated for 31 years in Alberta, closing this past August. Affiliated with the University of Calgary, it carried out original research on issues related to law and the family, including family breakdowns and how family matters are dealt with in the justice system.
Prior to closing, CRILF published three reports that touch on different aspects of access to justice.
Children's Participation in Justice Processes: Survey of Justices on Alberta's Court of Queen's Bench
This report is the follow-up to a survey conducted by the Institute of participants at the 2017 national symposium on children's participation in justice processes and examines the results of a survey of justices on Alberta's Court of Queen's Bench. The project was intended to obtained judges' opinions on the importance of obtaining children's views in court proceedings which affect them, the best ways of obtaining those views, and the extent to which judges have had experience soliciting the views of children. The study concludes with a number of recommendations for hearing children's views.
An Evaluation of Alberta's Mandatory Early Intervention Case Conferencing Pilot Project
Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench has implemented a pilot project requiring early intervention case conferences in certain family law cases. The pilot project is one of the Court’s responses to the increasing numbers of litigants without counsel, the short complement of the bench relative to the province’s population and the increasing delays until family law cases can be tried. The pilot project is intended to promote access to justice for families in Alberta by providing a means for families to have their family law cases heard expeditiously and settled efficiently.
Client and Lawyer Satisfaction with Unbundled Legal Services: Conclusions from the Alberta Limited Legal Services Project
This project involved 60 lawyers providing unbundled legal services to clients throughout Alberta, in almost every area of the law. The term “unbundled legal services” refers to when a lawyer agrees to assist a client with part – but not all – of a legal matter. For example, a lawyer may draft a Statement of Claim (the document that starts a lawsuit) for a client, but then the client runs the lawsuit. In a nutshell, clients and lawyers reported very high rates of satisfaction with the nature of the services provided, the speed of services and the cost of services. Most services provided completed in under 11 days at a cost of less than $1,000. Clients were happy hiring a lawyer to handle just part of their problem, rather than hiring a lawyer for all of their problem, and almost all lawyers participating in the project said that they will continue providing unbundled services in the future.
New Tip Sheets in English, Somali, and Arabic Help Immigrant and Refugee Seniors to Access and Maintain Housing in Alberta
Everything the Centre for Public Legal Education or CPLEA (pronounced see-plea) does increases access to justice in Alberta. We are a not-for-profit organization that empowers people with free information about their legal rights and responsibilities in common legal situations.
A large part of our work involves developing free print and digital resources on the law. This includes booklets, tip sheets, posters, and websites. We also offer an information and referral service via phone and email and training sessions for service providers and members of the general public. All of our resources and services are provided in plain language to make them easy to understand.
This summer, we completed a project that was funded through the Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund. It resulted in 7 new tip sheets that aim to increase the capacity of immigrant and refugee seniors to access and maintain housing in Alberta. Each of the 7 tip sheets were translated into Somali and Arabic, which were identified as two of the newcomer communities in Alberta that were most in-need.
The tip sheets teach readers about:
· Discrimination – what is it and what does it look like?
· The Alberta Human Rights Act – the inclusion of age as a protected ground from
· The Alberta Housing Act – things to know about Alberta’s affordable housing programs
· The Nursing Homes Act – things to know about applying for and living in a nursing home
· The Residential Tenancies Act – things to know about renting as a senior in Alberta
This series of tip sheets and over 200 other resources can be accessed at www.cplea.ca/publications.