by Bob Wood
Preparations for our recent Annual Meeting typically provide an opportunity to reflect on some of the Clinic’s achievements from the past year. While the Clinic provides a variety of services including legal advice & referrals and legal representation in a number of areas of law, we are also mandated to do community development and law reform work.
Here are a few recent achievements from those areas.
*The Hamilton Outreach Project (HOP) serves clients with mental health and/or addiction issues. HOP has continued to expand adding a Case Co-ordinator and providing onsite legal services at six different community agencies. Feedback has overwhelmingly confirmed the importance of the community-embedded model for legal services.
*Our Indigenous Outreach Project developed the IAMCOMMITTED.ca campaign so that citizens can publicly state their Commitment to Reconciliation and the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Clinic was one of the first organizations to produce its own Reconciliation report. It will guide the development and revision of our policies, practices and procedures.
*The Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction is a program of HCLC. Among its many achievements from the past year, the Roundtable can point to the launch of Hamilton tax filing awareness initiative which helped support 7,000 Hamilton families with information and awareness on the importance of filing taxes to receive income supports and entitlements. In addition, the Roundtable was awarded the 2017 Cities Reducing Poverty Award for Leadership in Poverty Reduction for “Stellar leadership in advancing poverty reduction in…community”.
*In December, the Clinic, the Poverty Roundtable and others rallied outside of City Hall calling for the Housing Stability Fund to be topped up. Council listened and this important program that helps people with low income maintain their housing was saved.
*We stand up for French Language Services. When a French speaking client was denied service in French at the Landlord and Tenant Board we appealed to divisional court. An Interim Review Order (in both English and French) directed a new hearing – in French – and contradicted the cost award.
*The Coalition of Residential Care Facilities (RCF) Tenants has been rejuvenated with the assistance of Clinic staff. The group, which educates RCF tenants about their rights and responsibilities and advocates for improved conditions, continues to meet monthly.
*We submitted briefs and/or delegated at meetings on a number of law reform issues. A partial list includes briefs on the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, and delegations on police carding, agricultural workers’ rights and the City’s Poverty Reduction Plan.
Find out more about our community development and law reform work at www.hamiltonjustice.ca
Bob Wood is a Community Worker at the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic.