The Government of Canada has introduced new legislation aimed at modernizing and strengthening family justice—making it the first substantial update of Canada’s federal family laws in 20 years.
On May 22nd, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, introduced legislation that would amend three federal family laws: the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act (FOAEAA) and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act (GAPDA). The legislation has four key objectives: to promote the best interests children, address family violence, curb child poverty and make Canada’s family justice system more accessible and efficient.
Additional information on these new measures can be accessed here: https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/government-of-canada-announces-new-measures-to-strengthen-and-modernize-family-justice-683335701.html.
The involvement of Aboriginal communities in child welfare decisions increases the likelihood that Aboriginal children who are being impacted by these decisions will be placed with Aboriginal caregivers who can help to maintain cultural and community ties. In British Columbia, the importance and value of this is reflected in the Child, Family and Community Service Act (“CFCSA”) which, among other things, states that Aboriginal communities have the right to be involved in decisions affecting Aboriginal children in care.
The ShchEma-mee.tkt Project has published an Aboriginal Communities and Parents Plain Language Guidebook to educate and promote compliance with these and other requirements relating to Aboriginal children, and to help to improve outcomes for Aboriginal children in care. Wrapping our Ways Around Them: The Child, Family and Community Service Act (CFCSA), Aboriginal Communities and Parents Plain Language Guidebook is available online at: www.wrappingourways.ca/.
The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) Family Law Section in conjunction with the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family (CRILF) have announced that the Successfully Parenting Apart: A Toolkit is now available.
About the new Successfully Parenting Apart toolkit, the CBA explains that it:
- organizes and consolidates online and print resources offering guidance, information, referrals and resources for resolving parenting challenges post-separation in ways most effective for children.
- is intended to increase family lawyers’ awareness of the best available information to better assist parents in transforming their relationship from being a couple to being successful co-parents.
To learn more about the toolkit or to download a copy of the Successfully Parenting Apart toolkit, visit the CBA website here.
The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family (CRILF) has published a new research paper based on findings from a survey of more than 200 lawyers and judges who attended the 2016 National Family Law Program. The National Family Law Program is a high-profile, 4-day biennial conference organized by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, that addresses current issues in the practice of family law in Canada. Topics addressed in the study include participants’ views of and experiences with: court-attached family justice programs; hearing the views of children; issues in custody and access disputes; issues in disputes about child support and spousal support; family violence; unified family courts; and, limited scope legal services in family law disputes.
The research paper was written by Lorne Bertrand, Jo Paetsch, John-Paul Boyd and Nick Bala and the study was funded by the Department of Justice and the Alberta Law Foundation.
The English version of the paper is available on the CRILF website here; the French version is available on the CRILF website here.
As our collective understanding of what constitutes “family” continues to change and evolve, the legislation governing the formation and dissolution of family relationships may appear to be lingering behind. In a new paper prepared for the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family (CRILF), John-Paul E. Boyd explores both the legal components and general public perceptions surrounding polyamorous relationships in Canada. Boyd begins the paper by citing the preliminary findings from the CRILF’s 2016 study on Canadian perceptions of polyamory. After breaking down the data, Boyd moves on to discuss the legal dimensions of polyamorous relationships in the context of the various provincial family law schemes.
Finally, Boyd concludes the paper by posing some questions for members of the family bar to consider when thinking about polyamorous relationships and how they may affect a range of issues, such as:
- a) Immigration: Can a married spouse sponsor someone coming into Canada to join his or her relationship?
b) Public employment benefits: Can CPP benefits and employee health benefits be shared with more than 1 other person?
- c) Wills and estates: To what extent does legislation accommodate concurrent surviving spouses? To what extent can children born from a ménage inherit from non-biological parents who die intestate?
- d) Adoption and assisted reproduction: How many adults can be legal parents of a child?
- e) Vital statistics: Can vital statistics agencies be compelled to register more adults as the parents of a child than the biological or adoptive parents of child?; and
- f) Education and health care: To what extent can education and health care providers be compelled to take instructions from the members of a ménage other than child’s biological parents?
For a more fulsome discussion of the legal dimensions of polyamorous relationships and to see the preliminary results of the 2016 survey, take a look at the report.
The Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters launched the #justiceforall campaign designed to raise public understanding of accessible justice challenges as a component of a healthy democracy.
A next step in transforming the A2J landscape is to engage the public by raising awareness of the importance of justice issues in Canada. Building a public understanding of the importance of legal health and the predictability of legal issues throughout one’s life will benefit individuals and will transform the access to justice conversation into an issue relevant to citizens, decision makers, and voters. As long as access to justice challenges are only understood within the justice system, the possible solutions will be limited to the scope of influence, resources and imagination of the justice system.
The Action Committee is asking the A2J leaders in Canada, to help raise the profile of A2J efforts. If you are a leader in A2J, a bencher, a legal academic, a judge or a lawyer with a personal following, we would also welcome your participation in collectively raising this issue. To participate in the social media campaign or add a button on your website, there are links, instructions and graphics available at: www.calibratesolutions.ca/actioncommitteecampaign
Starting a public conversation about access to justice will shift the perception of the issue to a holistic understanding of the law as a part of daily life that can be understood and managed throughout one’s life, often with the help of legal professionals.
This post also appears online here.
Le Comité d’action sur l’accès à la justice en matière civile et familiale a commencé la campagne #justicepourtous vise à faire réaliser au public que l’accès à la justice est, en fait, l’accès aux solutions de leurs problèmes juridiques de tous les jours et un élément d’une saine démocratie.
L’étape suivante dans la transformation du paysage de l’accès à la justice est de mobiliser le public en sensibilisant les gens à l’importance des questions de justice au Canada. Sensibiliser le public à l’importance de la santé juridique et à la prévisibilité des problèmes juridiques au cours de leur vie profitera aux individus et permettra de transformer les discussions sur l’accès à la justice en une question concrète et pertinente pour les citoyens, les décideurs et les électeurs. Tant et aussi longtemps que les défis en matière d’accès à la justice sont seulement compris par le système de justice, les solutions possibles seront limitées au champ d’action, aux ressources et à l’imagination du système de justice.
Le Comité d’Action vous demande, comme un des A2J leaders au Canada, nous aider à faire connaître nos A2J efforts parmi le public. Si vous êtes un leader, un conseiller, un juge ou un avocat avec un personnel suivant, nous accueillerions aussi votre participation soulevant collectivement à cette question. À participer à la campagne de medias sociale ou mettre un bouton sur votre site nous avons des liens et le graphisme sont tout disponibles à: www.calibratesolutions.ca/actioncommitteecampaign
Lancer un dialogue public sur l’accès à la justice changera la perception du problème et amènera une compréhension plus globale de la loi comme étant un élément de la vie quotidienne qui peut être compris et géré tout au long de la vie d’une personne, souvent avec l’aide de professionnels de la justice.
Cet article a été publié pour la première fois ici.
The Action Committee’s “Canadian Access to Justice Initiatives: Justice Development Goals Status Report” has been published and is available in both English and French on the Action Committee webpage
. This Report uses the nine Justice Development Goals set out in the Action Committee’s “A Roadmap for Change
” report as a framework to explore current initiatives and to identify areas for future work in access to justice in Canada. The Justice Development Goals Status Report was produced by the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice
In addition, the Forum has also published the “Status Report: Working Data Document”, which includes data from the “Canadian Access to Justice Initiatives: Justice Development Goals Status Report”, as well as raw data from the recent Justice Development Goals Survey that is not discussed in the Report.
The direct links to these documents are as follows:
The Canadian Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee has developed a new professional development webinar series called, Better Client Service Series: Good for Clients, Good for Lawyers.
Three live 90-minute webinars are currently scheduled to take place as a part of this series. The themes are as follows:
- (March 7, 2017) Lasting Client Relationships: Intake Strategies that Build Long-Term Trust: Using client intake procedures to identify long-term needs and build client capacity;
- (March 29, 2017) Made-to-Measure Legal Services: The Power of Limited Scope Retainers: Understanding the practical application of limited scope retainers and the associated professional responsibilities;
- (April 19, 2017) Intelligent Client Communications: Empowering Your Clients Through Clear Legal Writing: Drafting correspondence that optimizes clients’ understanding of their legal issues and helps them make effective decisions.
These webinars will be led by faculty who are well known in the access to justice arena. More information about the webinar series can be found at the following link: http://www.cbapd.org/details_en.aspx?id=NA_ona2j17. Information about accreditation of the sessions for inclusion in continuing professional development hours is located here: http://www.cbapd.org/accreditation_en.aspx?id=NA_ONA2J17
Non-CBA members who work in Access to Justice are eligible for pricing discounts. Follow the links above for contact information and to learn more about this series.