Law Society of Upper Canada

Law Society of Upper Canada

January 27, 2011 16:56 ET

Law Society Funds Free Legal Services Program at SickKids Hospital

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 27, 2011) - The Law Society of Upper Canada today announced that it will provide funding to Pro Bono Law Ontario's (PBLO's) free legal services program at SickKids Hospital. The Law Society has agreed to provide $90,000 to support the program for the period of February 28 to December 31, 2011 while PBLO works to secure more permanent financial support.

"The Law Society is very pleased to support this extremely important and successful access to justice program," says Law Society Treasurer Laurie Pawlitza. "Improving access to justice is a priority for the Law Society and the PBLO at SickKids program helps bring justice to some of Ontario's most vulnerable citizens."

The SickKids program provides free legal services to low-income families whose children receive treatment at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids Hospital). The governing principle is that legal issues affecting families during the time when a child is ill can have a negative impact on the child's health. The program has served over 620 families since its launch in January 2009.

"I would like to thank the Law Society for its support," says Jeffrey S. Leon, Chair, PBLO Board of Directors. "The Law Society has been a dedicated partner of PBLO since our inception. I look forward to continuing to work with the Law Society to enhance access to justice by advancing pro bono opportunities for the legal profession."

The PBLO at SickKids program has one staff lawyer who works as part of a patient's care team. The staff lawyer assesses the legal needs of the child and the child's family and either provides brief services or refers the client to one of the program's partners, McMillan LLP or Torkin Manes LLP, for free legal services.

To follow are sample cases where PBLO at SickKids has provided legal assistance:

  • An out‐of‐town family needed help to bring an emergency application in order to get custody of, and provide consent for, their niece who had been abandoned by her mother and required medical treatment at SickKids.

  • A father whose child had died in hospital was fired because he would not work overtime on the Saturday he was to attend a bereavement session with his wife.

  • A father came to Canada as a permanent resident but was subject to the 3‐month wait period before accessing OHIP. One week prior to the completion of this period his daughter required emergency surgery and a week's stay at SickKids.

The Law Society regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario in the public interest. The Law Society has a mandate to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario and act in a timely, open and efficient manner.

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