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Connecting Ottawa Communique


Connecting Ottawa Communique
16 février 2024

We are pleased to provide this information for front-line workers to support the information and referral needs of clients. Connecting Ottawa education sessions that may be of interest to workers are listed first followed by information and updates from our lawyers and partners related to services and programs relevant to clients who have a communication barrier due to language or sensory disability. Please feel free to share this email widely among your networks.

Upcoming Connecting Ottawa education sessions:

**New Content and Speaker Added** Information Session: Income tax and benefit returns for low-income residents
Date: Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Time: 11:00 a.m – 12:00 p.m.
Speakers: Jonathan Rothschild, Bill Singleton and Daniel Danford Dussault
Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88445675783?pwd=U2dpRnJzRm5vb25keW84NmZsUkx1UT09
Meeting ID: 884 4567 5783
Passcode: 627067
Jonathon and Bill, longtime volunteers with the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, will explain the importance of filing an income tax return for low income individuals and its impact on maintaining benefits and credits. They will also discuss where clients can get their returns prepared for free. Daniel, Communications and Development Manager, Community Navigation of Eastern Ontario (CNEO), will join us to discuss CNEO’s referral service and the work it is doing during tax season to help people find the closest income tax clinics serving their area.

Information Session:  Referring clients to Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) and community legal clinics services
Date:  Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Time:  11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Speakers:  Representatives from all Community Legal Clinics and LAO
Zoom link:   https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85433708899?pwd=RzQ5V3hBR2lCc3JVUW1ZV3RCdC9RUT09
Meeting ID: 854 3370 8899
Passcode:  519409
Representatives from all Ottawa community legal clinics and LAO will provide an overview of the areas of law and services that they offer and how to refer clients to their clinic and services.

**More Details to Follow** Information Session: Ontario Works Employment Services Transformation
Date: Wednesday, March 20 or Thursday, March 21, 2024 (To be Confirmed)
Time: 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Speakers: Representatives from Employment and Social Services, Community and Social Services Department, City of Ottawa
Employment and Social Services will provide a presentation on Ontario Works programs and services, highlighting changes related to Ontario Works Employment Services Transformation.

Séance d’information: Quoi faire lorsque votre client reçoit un N12
(Conjointement avec Services Juridiques Reach, un programme de ABLE2, dans le cadre de la série d’éducation sur le droit du logement)
Date: Mercredi, 17 avril 2024
Heure: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Panéliste: Suzanne Larose, Services juridiques communautaires d’Ottawa
Join link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83298035826?pwd=WjI5WkJnWFI2cTIyK1FoeUNSTWRMQT09
Meeting ID: 832 9803 5826
Passcode: 582570
Cette séance fournira aux travailleurs de première ligne une compréhension approfondie quant à la façon de soutenir les clients qui reçoivent un formulaire N12 : Avis de résiliation de la location parce que le locateur, un acheteur ou un membre de la famille veut occuper le logement locatif.

Legal information and updates:

New 3-Year Post-Graduation Work Permits for Masters and Doctoral Students
As of February 15th, 2024, masters and doctoral students who apply for a post-grad work permit after completing their studies will receive a three-year open work permit to work for any employer. In the past, their post-grad work permit was issued only for the length of their program, such as a 1-year work permit for someone who completed a 1-year masters program. This will allow these students to work in Canada longer and assist them to gain the experience they need to hope to qualify for permanent residence through one of the economic programs like the Canadian Experience Class. A post-grad work permit remains a one-time opportunity, meaning that a masters student who previously held a post-grad work permit in the past is not eligible for a second one. In addition, all other PGWP program eligibility requirements remain unchanged. What remains unclear is how IRCC will treat individuals who qualify for this new longer post-grad work permit and who have applied before February 15th and not received their permit yet. We do not know whether they will benefit from the new policy.

Registration now open for Government of Canada webinars on tax benefits and credits
The Government of Canada is hosting the following webinars this month and in March:

  • Benefits and credits for Indigenous peoples – February 28, 2024
  • Benefits and credits for newcomers to Canada – March 20, 2024

Click here for more details and links to register: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/taxes/income-tax/personal-income-tax/help-others/outreach/upcoming-events-products.html?hsid=607bed73-ff30-4a84-8ff2-b5a55aa49b54

2023 Income tax and benefit return due dates
It is very important to make sure your clients file their 2023 income tax and benefit returns so they can receive credits and benefit payments from the Canada Revenue Agency. Key filing dates for 2023 taxes are:

  • Tuesday, April 30, 2024: Deadline to file your taxes
  • Monday, June 17, 2024: Deadline to file your taxes if you or your spouse or common-law partner are self-employed

New CRA rules around working from home make it harder to claim expenses
You may recall that as a result of the widespread work-from-home arrangements that began due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) introduced a simplified method for employees to claim home-office expenses. Under this method, which was available for the 2020, 2021 and 2022 tax years, employees didn’t have to track their actual home-office expenses. Instead, employees could claim $2 per day for up to 250 days, or $500 ($400 for 2020), as employment expenses. No receipts or proof of your expenditures was needed, and, most significantly, no CRA form was needed from your employer to certify your work-from home arrangement. But for the 2023 tax return, which is generally due on April 30, 2024, employees who wish to claim home-office expenses will have to tally all their expenses, pro-rate them and then claim the appropriate amount as a deduction on their 2023 returns. For more information on claiming home office expenses for the 2023 tax year, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/topics/about-your-tax-return/tax-return/completing-a-tax-return/deductions-credits-expenses/line-22900-other-employment-expenses/work-space-home-expenses/how-claim.html

Federal minimum wage to increase as of April 1, 2024
The new federal minimum wage will be $17.30 as of April 1, 2024. This wage increase applies to the federally regulated private sectors, including banks, postal and courier services, and interprovincial air, rail, road, and marine transportation.

Scam Alert: Older adult and highly vulnerable homeowners BEWARE
Since January 2022, the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly (ACE) has received calls from older adults who are shocked to discover a mortgage or a lien – called a « notice of security interest » or « NOSI » – has been registered against title to their home without their knowledge or consent. These liens are often in fairly large amounts like $40,000-$60,000. The older adults targeted are highly vulnerable individuals, typically with limited means and education, and sometimes with marginal mental capacity. They are duped into signing a flurry of unfair door-to-door home service contracts for products and services they do not need and cannot afford. Financing for these contracts is obtained and secured by NOSIs. After they discover that a private mortgage has been placed on their home with unfair terms, homeowners often default on their mortgage payments and are served with legal proceedings to sell or foreclose on their home. We encourage you to read more about this scam so that you can warn your clients to beware: https://www.acelaw.ca/blog/scam-alert-older-adult-homeowners-beware/?fbclid=IwAR3KYII4IeXAIyrWk8EL_qwsBS0ZuhoTIZUK-leiJWC63pLA-HDlCvwkhGU

Tribunals Ontario’s new Hearing Audio Recordings Policy
Tribunals Ontario is launching a new Hearing Audio Recordings Policy (HARP) effective April 1, 2024. The Landlord and Tenant Board, Social Benefits Tribunal and Ontario Parole Board have been recording their hearings for many years. After the implementation of HARP, the Animal Care Review Board, Assessment Review Board, Child and Family Services Review Board, Custody Review Board, Fire Safety Commission, Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, Licence Appeal Tribunal and Ontario Special Education Tribunal will record their hearings as well. Tribunals Ontario will not audio record any “pre-hearing events” such as case management conferences, mediations, and settlement conferences unless the tribunal orders otherwise. Audio recordings will normally be created using the recording function in Zoom. In case of technical difficulties and unforeseen circumstances the tribunal may proceed with the hearing without recording it. Individuals who wish to make their own audio recording of a hearing must seek the approval of the tribunal. The full draft policy is posted on the Tribunals Ontario site in both English and French.

English: https://tribunalsontario.ca/documents/TO/TO_Hearing_Audio_Recordings_Policy_EN.pdf)

French: https://tribunalsontario.ca/documents/TDO/TDO_Hearing_Audio_Recordings_Policy_FR.pdf

Kit: Top 3 des bases du droit de la famille à connaître
L’Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario (AJEFO) a élaboré le Top 3 des bases du droit de la famille à connaître, un kit portant sur les réalités de la clientèle, la séparation et les droits des enfants et la violence faite aux femmes. Le kit contient 3 ressources en format PDF téléchargeables ayant chacune une présentation PowerPoint, un guide du formateur, un cahier de la participante et un guide des annexes. Visiter le site Web: https://www.ajefo.ca/nos-ressources/top-3-des-bases-du-droit-de-la-famille-a-connaitre/

Steps to Justice has new content about MyBenefits.
MyBenefits is an online service for people applying to Ontario Works (OW) or getting benefits from OW or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). The new content explains some things people should consider before signing up for MyBenefits, including: 1. what it can be used for; 2. the technology that’s needed; 3. extra tasks MyBenefits users have to do; and 4. what to do with documents and messages that are sent through MyBenefits. The new Steps to Justice content about MyBenefits is available here: https://stepstojustice.ca/questions/income-assistance/do-i-need-a-mybenefits-account-when-i-apply-for-or-get-income-assistance/

OCDSB Speaker Series: Combating Human Trafficking
On Wednesday, February 28, 2024 from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., the Ottawa Carleton District School Board will host a virtual panel discussion on tackling human trafficking. The session aims to equip parents/caregivers with the know-how to identify the warning signs and grooming behaviours and understand the factors making children vulnerable and susceptible to trafficking. We will also explore ways to collectively support parents/caregivers in safeguarding children. More information and the registration link is available here:  https://www.ocdsb.ca/news/parent_guardian_panel_discussion  A resource list and helpful links to help raise awareness and share vital information about this topic are available here: https://www.ocdsb.ca/cms/One.aspx?portalId=55478&pageId=44379853

Reminder: New Rules for Applying for a Study Permit from Outside Canada
For the next two years, 2024 and 2025, the government has set a cap on the number of study permits that can be approved. The cap is expected to result in approximately 360,000 approved study permits, a decrease of 35% from 2023. Each province will be allotted a certain number of study permits for schools in that province. This means that it will be much more difficult for individuals to be accepted to study in Canada. The cap on study permits does not impact individuals who are already studying in Canada or those who are coming to Canada to study at the elementary, high school, Master’s or doctoral level. Individuals coming to study at the undergraduate level in Ontario will be particularly impacted since Ontario schools will not be able to welcome as many international students due to the caps.

In addition, as of January 2024, most individuals applying to come to Canada to study need to provide an attestation letter from the province or territory where they plan to study. The process to apply for an attestation letter from each province or territory is not yet in place. These processes are expected to be in place by March 31, 2024. 

As a result, it is currently not possible to apply for a study permit from abroad except in very limited circumstances. If you apply after January 22, 2024 without an attestation letter your application will be returned unless you’re either a:

  • minor child in a primary or secondary school (kindergarten to grade 12);
  • student in a masters, PhD or other post-graduate program; or
  • student applying to extend your study permit.

In the coming weeks IRCC will also stop issuing open work permits to the spouses of international students, except for the spouses of those at the Masters or doctoral level. This means, it will be much more difficult for most international students to bring family with them when they come to Canada to study.

Reminder: 2024 Canada Pension Plan pension and benefit amounts now available
Monthly and maximum payment amounts from January – December 2024 are now available here: Canada Pension Plan – Monthly payment amounts – Canada.ca. Additionally, a person receiving Canada Pension Plan-Disability can earn up to $6,800 (before tax) with no obligation to report it to Service Canada.

Reminder:  New Resource: Refugee 613 Video about Government Programs for Newcomers
Canada has hundreds of government programs to help people access financial support and services, like the Canada Child Benefit, Employment Insurance, and more.  Refugee 613’s new animated video will explain how government programs can help newcomers to Canada and how newcomers can find the programs they qualify for. The video is available in English, Dari, Pashto, Spanish, Ukrainian, Turkish, Arabic, Swahili. Find it here: https://r613.info/Prgms. This resource for newcomers and hundreds more are also available on Refugee 613’s Multilingual Info Bank. Visit it today: https://www.newcomer-infobank.ca.

Reminder: New and Updated Resources from the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO)
ACTO has some new and updated resources on the following topics to help you support your clients!:

Reminder: New program to provide PR to certain individuals affected by conflict in Sudan with family in Canada
IRCC has announced a new program to provide a family-based humanitarian pathway to permanent residence for certain foreign nationals directly affected by the conflict in Sudan who have family in Canada.  Connecting Ottawa lawyer Heather Neufeld has put together an information sheet on the program.  Visit: https://connexionottawa.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Sudan-Program-Jan-16-1.pdf

Reminder: New program for temporary safe haven for Palestinians affected by crisis in Gaza
IRCC has announced a second new program providing a temporary safe haven for Palestinians directly affected by the crisis in Gaza who have Canadian citizen or permanent resident family members in Canada willing to support them. Connecting Ottawa lawyer Heather Neufeld has put together an information sheet on the program.  Visit: https://connexionottawa.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Gaza-Program-Jan-16.pdf

Reminder: New information sheet on the Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP) and updated information sheet on the Canada Dental Benefit (CDB)
Connecting Ottawa is pleased to share with you a new information sheet on the CDCP and an updated information sheet on the Canada Dental Benefit. We encourage you to read each document thoroughly so that you can assist clients who may be eligible for these benefits. It is also important to note that the CDCP is not the same as the CDB. The CDB is a direct, tax-free benefit payment for children under 12 who do not have dental insurance and whose parents and guardians earn an adjusted family net income of less than $90,000. The CDB is available until June 30, 2024. Eligible children under 18 years of age will need to enroll in the CDCP after the CDB expires to continue receiving dental services. For the CDCP InfoSheet visit: https://connexionottawa.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/Canada-Dental-Plan-Jan-16.pdf.  For the updated CDB InfoSheet, visit: https://connexionottawa.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/CDB-Infosheet-January-16-2024.pdf

In case you missed it … (we think the following information bears repeating):
Updated Connecting Ottawa information sheets

The following resources have been produced by Connecting Ottawa lawyers to provide front line workers and community members with information and referral resources for common legal issues.  Please feel free to share with your clients and networks.

Webinar and Q & A sheet on temporary and permanent residence options for Ukrainians
On November 16, 2023, Heather Neufeld and Jacqueline Bonisteel presented a comprehensive webinar on the CLEO Connect platform on temporary and permanent residence options for Ukrainians.  The webinar and a copy of the slides can be viewed or downloaded at: https://cleoconnect.ca/resource/yourlegalrights/ukrainians-in-canada-special-immigration-measures-and-supports-for-temporary-residents-2/

The speakers have also prepared a Q & A sheet to provide answers to the many questions that were posed at the webinar.  You can view the Q & A sheet at: https://connexionottawa.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/Q-A-Ukrainian-Pathways.pdf

A new toolkit from Luke’s Place for a survivor’s friends and family members
Luke’s Place released a new toolkit « Supporting After Separation: A Toolkit of Legal Information and Resources for a Survivor’s Friends and Family Members. » The toolkit empowers family members and friends to provide support and resources for women and children in their lives who are fleeing violence: New toolkit for a survivor’s friends and family members – Luke’s Place (lukesplace.ca).

Extension of Public Policy Allowing International Students to Work More than 20 Hours a Week off Campus
A new public policy, in force until April 2024, will continue to permit international students to work off campus more than the typical 20 hours a week authorized by a study permit. The student may work as many hours a week as they choose as long as they applied for their study permit or applied to renew their study permit before December 7th 2023. The student must be studying at a Designated Learning Institution in a course that lasts more than six months and must be a full time student. They must be enrolled in a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program, or a vocational training program at the secondary school level offered in Quebec. This public policy does not apply to high school students.

Claim period for Canadian Oxycontin Class Actions currently open
Several Canadian class actions relating to the prescription drugs OxyContin and OxyNeo have been settled. The settlement compensates eligible class members for various injuries they suffered due to addictions they developed from using these prescription Oxy drugs. Anyone who was prescribed and ingested OxyContin and/or OxyNeo in Canada between January 1, 1996 and February 28, 2017 is eligible to claim under the settlement. Estates of deceased Canadian Oxy users are also eligible to file claims, as are spouses, children, and certain other family members. Class members have until February 27, 2024 to file a claim. For more information visit www.oxycontin class action settlement.ca or contact the claims administrator at 1-888-663-7185 or oxycontin@ricepoint.com.

Connect with us …
Connecting Ottawa is available to support front-line workers in Ottawa to provide appropriate legal information and referrals to clients with communication barriers as a result of language or sensory disability. If you have a question or require a consultation, please send it to info@connectingottawa.com along with an Intake Form: https://connectingottawa.com/request-for-information-consultation/.  This will ensure the most efficient response to your request.  As a reminder, we do not provide direct legal services to individuals.