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Connecting Ottawa Communique


Connecting Ottawa Communique
4 julliet 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:
Our education program will resume in the Fall of 2024.  Watch your email for details!

Legal information and updates:
Reminder:  New Connecting Ottawa Infographics:  What is Connecting Ottawa? When should Front-line Workers contact Connecting Ottawa?
Connecting Ottawa is pleased to share new infographics that describe our services and help front-line workers understand how we can build your capacity to support clients who meet our eligibility criteria with their legal issues.  You can view the infographics here:  

ODSP rate increase effective July 2024
On July 1, 2024, an inflation-based increase of 4.5% will apply to:

  • basic needs and shelter maximum amounts for singles and families
  • board and lodge amounts for singles and families
  • the amount provided for a couple where both have disabilities
  • amounts for services provided by a Long-Term Care Home or a Specialized Care Residence

The policy directives will contain the actual adjusted rates as of July. No changes are being made to Ontario Works rates.

Public consultation period now open for the Canada Disability Benefit
Draft regulations for the Canada Disability Benefit were released last week. The opportunity for comment is available to the public throughout the consultation period. At this time, comments and feedback can be made on this webpage of the Canada Gazette: https://canadagazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2024/2024-06-29/html/reg2-eng.html. There are clickable links to provide comments in text boxes after each section of the « Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement », as well as the different sections of the Regulations themselves (further down that page). The consultation period will end on September 23, 2024 11:59pm EST. As announced in Budget 2024, the Government of Canada is committed to begin payment of the Canada Disability Benefit in July 2025.

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) moving to next phase of COVID-19 benefit debt recovery
The CRA is responsible for collecting individual overpayments for all COVID-19 benefit programs, such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), and the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB). Starting this month, individuals who have not responded or co-operated with the CRA about an overpayment, and who have been determined to have the financial capacity to repay, will be issued legal warnings: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/about-canada-revenue-agency-cra/when-you-money-collections-cra/personal-debt/legal-warning.html#notify. According to the CRA, legal measures will only be taken when there is no cooperation from an individual with the ability to repay the debt. More information on this announcement is available at this link: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/news/newsroom/tax-tips/tax-tips-2024/covid-19-benefits-canada-revenue-agency-is-moving-to-next-phase-debt-recovery.html. If your client is low-income and receives a warning letter, they can be referred to Community Legal Services of Ottawa (https://www.clsottawa.ca/) or to the Vanier CSC Legal Clinic (https://cscvanier.com/services/clinique-juridique-francophone/)  for help. Connecting Ottawa can also assist frontline workers and their clients with these warnings if their clients fall within our target populations.  See our infographic for more information: https://connexionottawa.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Frontline-Workers-at-Community-Agencies-When-Should-I-Contact-Connecting-Ottawa.pdf

How to confirm if it is really the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) contacting you
If a client receives a call about a CRA balance owing or a debt collected by the CRA that they never saw on their Notice of Assessment, Notice of Reassessment, Notice of Determination, Notice of Debt, or another notice, make sure to encourage them to:

To learn more about what a CRA agent will and will not do, refer to: Recognize a scam – https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/corporate/scams-fraud/recognize-scam.html

Online applications are now open for the Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP) for children under 18 and for people 18-64 with a valid Disability Tax Credit
Applications for the CDCP are now open for children under 18 and for people 18-64 with a valid Disability Tax Credit. All remaining eligible Canadian residents can apply in 2025. To complete an online application, you need to provide the following information for yourself and your spouse or common-law partner (if applicable):

  • Social Insurance Number
  • Date of birth
  • Full name
  • Home and mailing address
  • List of coverage you may have through government social programs (if applicable)

If you are unable to apply online, you can apply by calling 1-833-537-4342. If necessary, you can ask a trusted person to help you apply by phone, but must give clear consent that you agree to let them help you. For more information on the CDCP we encourage you to read our information sheet:  https://connexionottawa.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/Canadian-Dental-Care-Plan-Info-Sheet-May-9-2024.pdf.

Canada Dental Benefit (CDB) now closed – please encourage clients to enroll eligible children in the Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP)
The CDB was a direct, tax-free benefit payment for children under 12 who did not have dental insurance and whose parents and guardians earned an adjusted family net income of less than $90,000. The CDB was available until June 30, 2024 for dental care received between July 1, 2023 and June 30, 2024. Parents of eligible children under 18 years of age should be encouraged to enroll their children online in the Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP): https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/dental/dental-care-plan.html. Frontline workers whose clients fall within Connecting Ottawa’s target populations are encouraged to contact us if their clients have questions about their eligibility for the CDCP. Note: you can apply for the CDCP if you already have dental coverage through ODSP, Ontario Works, Healthy Smiles Ontario, or Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program. Since the CDCP may not cover 100% of your dental services, Ontario’s programs can be used to supplement dental bills up to the maximum amounts under Ontario’s service schedules.

How to check the status of your application for the Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP)
To access information about your application using the online status checker, you need to provide your Application Code or your Client Number (the number on the confirmation page of your online application, or the number in the right-hand corner of the CDCP letter from Service Canada): https://mydentalapplication-mademandedentaire.canada.ca/en/status-etat/. If you are using the automated phone service to check the status of your application, you need your Social Insurance Number and other personal information in addition to your Application Code or your Client Number: 1-833-537-4342, select option 2.  Sun Life will send welcome packages within three months of applying. Welcome packages include the date you can start seeing an oral health provider. Appointments can only be scheduled on or after your coverage start date.  

Increased Annual Income Eligibility Thresholds: Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program and Seniors Co-Payment Program
The provincial government has announced that the annual income eligibility thresholds for the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program and the Seniors Co-Payment Program (for prescription drugs) will be going up as of August 1, 2024 from $22,200 to $25,000 for singles aged 65+ and from $37,100 to $41,500 for couples. For more information, visit: https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/1004738/ontario-connecting-more-seniors-to-dental-care-and-affordable-prescription-drugs.

Canada ends « flagpoling » services for PGWP applicants
On June 21, 2024, IRCC announced that as of that date « flagpoling » for a postgraduate work permit (PGWP) will no longer be possible. Please refer to: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2024/06/canada-improves-fairness-for-applicants-by-ending-post-graduation-work-permit-flagpoling.html

This measure will help reduce what is known as “flagpoling.” Flagpoling occurs when temporary residents of Canada (those with a work/study permit, or visitor visa/electronic travel authorization (eTA) bypass the normal wait times involved in applying for a work or study permit online by leaving the country and then immediately re-entering to receive same-day immigration services through a designated port of entry (POE). The process offers the opportunity to skip the long waiting periods and processing times that typically follow when submitting the online or paper application to IRCC.

Quebec imposed cap on family sponsorship applications
The Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration de Québec has made an announcement imposing a limit on family sponsorship applications. Please refer to: https://www.quebec.ca/en/immigration/permanent/sponsor-family-member/rules-reception-applications.

This limit will take effect on June 26, 2024 and will end on June 25, 2026. The cap imposes a limit of 13,000 applications distributed as follows: 10,400 for spouses, domestic partners and dependent children over 18 years of age; 2,600 for fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, grandfathers or other eligible family members.

Once this cap is reached, the Ministère will stop accepting applications for the remainder of the period.  Applications will be received on a first-come, first-served basis. However, this limit does not apply to: the sponsor’s minor dependent child; the minor children that the sponsor wishes to adopt; the orphaned minor children of the godfather’s brother, sister, niece, nephew, niece, grandson or granddaughter; an adult child of the sponsor who is dependent on a parent because of a disability. To be exempt from this limit, the sponsored person cannot be married or in a domestic partnership. Additionally, the cap does not limit applications to add a dependent of the sponsored person already covered by an application, or to add a dependent to a sponsored person awaiting admission as a permanent resident following an approved application.

Once the limit is reached, the Ministry will announce it.  If the Ministry receives non-exempt applications after the limit has been reached, it will return such applications without processing them or charging the application fee.

Please refer to: https://www.quebec.ca/nouvelles/actualites/details/nouvelles-regles-reception-demandes-engagement-regroupement-familial-56981.

University of Ottawa Legal Clinic: 2024-2025 Intake Schedule
The University of Ottawa Legal Clinic provides free legal services to eligible community members on a variety of criminal, family and tenant-related matters. More information about the Clinic is available here: https://www.uottawa.ca/faculty-law/common-law/community-legal-clinic. The 2024 – 2025 intake schedule for the Clinic has now been finalized. Clinic intakes will be held during the following periods:

  • September 16 to October 28, 2024
  • November 11 to November 25, 2024
  • January 6 to January 14, 2025
  • January 27 to February 24, 2025
  • March 10 to March 27, 2025

To schedule an intake, clients should call the Clinic at 613-562-5600. Please note that the Clinic remains open between intake dates except from December 23, 2024, to January 2, 2025, inclusively.

CLEO Connect Webinar: Understanding special immigration measures, eligibility criteria, and pathway options for Gazans
On Thursday, July 18, 2024 from 12 p.m.-1:30 p.m., CLEO Connect will host a webinar on « Understanding special immigration measures, eligibility criteria, and pathway options for Gazans. » For more information on the session, including the topics that will be covered, visit: outreach.cleo.on.ca/civicrm?civiwp=CiviCRM&q=civicrm%2Fmailing%2Fview&reset=1&id=1482.

It’s hot out there: Rules about air conditioners
Every summer there can be confusion between landlords and tenants about air conditioning. The law isn’t always clear about the rules, but you can help clients know their legal rights by reviewing the rules about air conditioners from Steps to Justice: https://stepstojustice.ca/questions/housing-law/what-are-rules-about-air-conditioners/ and the Canadian Centre for Housing Rights: https://housingrightscanada.com/resources/ontario-housing-law-101-air-conditioning/.

Ottawa Public Health (OPH): Free Dental Screenings
Community Dental Screenings are held over the summer at OPH’s Neighbourhood Health and Wellness Hubs. Dental screenings and fluoride varnish applications are free for all ages. Registered dental hygienists can also support clients with the Healthy Smiles Ontario and Ontario Seniors Dental Care Plan enrollments. For the full list of programs/services, schedule and locations of Neighbourhood Health and Wellness Hubs, please visit the OPH website: https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/public-health-topics/neighbourhood-health-and-wellness-hubs.aspx.

EarlyON Summer Storytime in the Park
This summer, EarlyON Centres will be offering fun outdoor activities for children ages 0-6 and their parents and caregivers. Join EarlyOn outdoors for stories, songs, and fun! These events will take place July 16th-August 1st and August 13th-22nd at Agincourt Park, Edgehill Park, and Lawson Park. More information and a detailed schedule is available here: https://www.ocdsb.ca/cms/One.aspx?portalId=55478&pageId=53471173.

Mark your Calendar:  OCDSB Fall 2024 Virtual Night School Registration Opens August 26, 2024
Night School offers secondary students and adult learners the opportunity to upgrade or take additional courses. The Ottawa Carleton District School Board’s (OCDSB) night classes will run virtually on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from September 19th to December 17th. Registration will be open from August 26th to September 16th. Visit the Night School website for course offerings and more information: https://www.ocdsb.ca/continuing_education/night_school.

Reminder: Canada announces new pilot programs to support caregivers
Canada has announced a new, enhanced caregiver program as the expiry date for Canada’s existing Home Child Care Provider Pilot and the Home Support Worker Pilot approaches. The government intends to make the caregiver program permanent. The new pilot programs will grant home care workers permanent residence (PR) status on arrival in Canada rather than requiring a certain amount of work experience in the country. They will also be allowed to work for organizations that provide temporary or part-time care for people who are semi-independent or recovering from an injury or illness. Through these new pilot programs, candidates interested in working in Canada’s home care sector will be eligible to apply if they meet the following criteria:

  • attain a minimum of level 4 based on the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB)
  • hold the equivalent of a Canadian high school diploma
  • have recent and relevant work experience
  • receive an offer for a full-time home care job

These criteria mark a change from the previous program that required a CLB of 5 and a year of Canadian post-secondary education (or a foreign equivalent). The programs also included a work experience requirement of at least six months.

More information will be available before the full launch of the pilots, including full eligibility criteria and details on how to apply: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2024/06/canada-announces-new-pilot-programs-to-support-caregivers-and-canadian-families.html. Pour obtenir des informations en français, veuillez consulter ce lien officiel:  https://www.canada.ca/fr/immigration-refugies-citoyennete/nouvelles/2024/06/le-canada-annonce-de-nouveaux-programmes-pilotes-pour-soutenir-les-aides-familiaux-et-les-familles-canadiennes.html.

Please note that the Home Child Care Provider Pilot and the Home Support Worker Pilot have now ended: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/caregivers/child-care-home-support-worker.html.

Reminder: Temporary measures to support family members affected by the crisis in Haiti
On May 23rd, 2024, IRCC announced temporary measures to support family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents who have left Haiti, as well as Haitian nationals already in Canada who are currently unable to return home:  https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2024/05/temporary-measures-to-support-family-members-affected-by-the-crisis-in-haiti.html.  From the day of the press release onwards, Haitians with valid temporary resident status in Canada can apply for a study permit, open work permit, or status extension at no cost. This includes foreign national family members, regardless of nationality, who arrived as temporary residents through assisted departures out of Haiti. In addition, three months of Interim Federal Health Program coverage will be available to those who are eligible.

For more information on how to apply as well as eligibility conditions, please follow the official immigration link: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/haiti-2024/canada-tr-measures.html.  Pour obtenir des informations en français, veuillez consulter ce lien officiel : https://www.canada.ca/fr/immigration-refugies-citoyennete/services/haiti-2024-fr/canada-rt-mesures.html https://www.canada.ca/fr/immigration-refugies-citoyennete/nouvelles/2024/05/mesures-temporaires-pour-soutenir-les-membres-de-la-famille-touches-par-la-crise-en-haiti.html.

Reminder: Canada to introduce new rules around off-campus work hours for international students
On April 29, 2024, IRCC announced that the temporary policy allowing students to work more than 20 hours per week off campus would come to an end on April 30, 2024, and it would not be extended:  https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2024/04/canada-to-introduce-new-rules-around-off-campus-work-hours-for-international-students.html.  As we head into the summer session, students who have a scheduled academic break can continue working unlimited hours. Please note that students can work an unlimited number of hours if they are on a break scheduled by their Designated Learning Institution, such as winter and summer holidays, or a reading week.

In addition, if a student is working during a scheduled break, they can also take courses on a part-time or full-time basis during that break and/or work overtime or work 2 part-time jobs.  This will not affect the ability to work an unlimited number of hours.  A foreign national must be a full-time student both before and after the break to work full-time during the break. The student should not begin work before the start of the very first semester of school.  For more information, please see: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/study-canada/work/work-off-campus.html. Pour obtenir des informations en français, veuillez consulter ce lien officiel:  https://www.canada.ca/fr/immigration-refugies-citoyennete/services/etudier-canada/travail/travailler-hors-campus.html

Reminder: Employers must pay employees tips or other gratuities by cash, cheque, or direct deposit as of June 21, 2024
Effective June 21, 2024, employers are required to pay tips and gratuities by either cash, cheque, or direct deposit – which includes e-Transfer. The employer can decide which of the permitted payment methods to use. If payment is by cash or cheque, the employee must be paid the tips or other gratuities at the workplace or at some other place agreed to in writing (including electronically) by the employee. If payment is made by direct deposit, the account must be selected by the employee. The employer cannot require an employee to use an account at a financial institution the employee did not choose, and the account must be in the employee’s name.

Reminder: resource for women leaving shelters
The Anishinabek Nation’s Nshiimenhiig (My Sisters Toolkit) is for women and girls leaving shelters and returning to their communities after experiencing intimate partner violence. It focuses on empowering them, promoting leadership, and developing culturally relevant and community-based solutions to violence. The Toolkit is available here:  https://anishinabek.ca/Flipbooks/Nshiimenhiig.html.  

Reminder: CLEO’s On the Radar shares information about the New Process for Making Complaints about the Police
On April 1, 2024, a new law governing the police in Ontario came into effect. The Community Safety and Policing Act (CSPA) brings many changes, including to the process for making complaints about police officers.  You can read more about this new process here: https://outreach.cleo.on.ca/civicrm?civiwp=CiviCRM&q=civicrm%2Fmailing%2Fview&reset=1&id=1458.

Reminder: Welcome to Connecting Ottawa’s New Staff Lawyer:  Laura Chaves Paz
Join us in welcoming Connecting Ottawa’s new staff lawyer! Laura Chaves Paz joined us on June 3, 2024.  Prior to starting her new role at Connecting Ottawa, Laura was in private practice for almost ten years in Ottawa serving clients primarily in the area of immigration law.  Laura also has extensive international experience focusing on international law, human rights and criminal law.  She has worked in different jurisdictions in the areas of litigation, legal research, policy and consulting for clients and organizations in Canada and abroad, including the United States, Mexico, Argentina, Central America, Asia and Africa.  Laura is available to provide consultations to front line social service and agency workers in the areas of immigration and refugee law.

Reminder: Connecting Ottawa Update on Immigration and Refugee Law Consultations/Referrals
Good news!  Connecting Ottawa is again able to provide consultations for immigration and refugee law matters. Should front-line social service and agency workers require a consultation for an immigration or refugee law matter in relation to their clients, please make a consultation request through our online intake form at: https://connectingottawa.com/request-for-information-consultation/. Along with your completed request for legal information/consultation, please send any documents related to your client’s legal issue by email to info@connectingottawa.com.

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.

Update on How to Renew or Replace a Refugee Protection Claimant Document
The Refugee Protection Claimant Document (RPCD) is a secure document issued to refugee claimants that is used to access the Interim Federal Health Program and other services in Canada. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is now processing requests to renew all expired, lost, stolen or damaged RPCDs. Beginning February 15, 2024, asylum claimants who need to renew or replace their Refugee Protection Claimant Documents (RPCD) can do so by submitting a request using this IRCC Webform: https://secure.cic.gc.ca/ClientContact/en/Application/Form/72. Once a renewal is processed, clients will receive their new document by mail or be asked to pick it up at a local IRCC office. More information about how claimants can renew or replace their RPCDs is available here: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/refugees/claim-protection-inside-canada/replace-rpcd.html.

New Risk Identification Safety Assessment (RISA) Tool for front-line service providers
As part of the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic’s five-year National Risk Assessment Project, the RISA Tool was developed to provide front-line service providers with a holistic approach to risk identification and safety planning with survivors of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) or those at risk of violence: https://www.riseaboverisk.ca/. We encourage you to check out this incredible tool!

Refugee hearing orientations for refugee claimants
Refugee claimants are invited to participate in Immigration and Refugee Board – Refugee Protection Division (RPD) virtual ready tours. This is a great opportunity to meet with RPD officers who will explain what happens during a hearing and how to be ready. Tours take place twice a month in June, July, August and September. To register for a tour visit: https://www.fcjrefugeecentre.org/refugee-orientations-online/.

Licensing for temporary help agencies and recruiters required as of July 1, 2024
Temporary help agencies employ people to assign them to perform work on a temporary basis for clients of the agency. A recruiter is any person, including a corporation, partnership, and individual/sole proprietorship, who, for a fee, finds or attempts to find employment in Ontario for prospective employees, or finds, or attempts to find, employees for prospective employers in Ontario. As of July 1, 2024, temporary help agencies and recruiters are required to hold a license to operate. Clients are prohibited from knowingly engaging or using the services of a temporary agency that does not hold a license, while employers, prospective employers, and other recruiters are prohibited from knowingly engaging or using the services of any recruiter that does not hold a licence. Visit the Government of Ontario’s website for more information: https://www.ontario.ca/page/licensing-temporary-help-agencies-and-recruiters?mc_cid=fcb5a5843d&mc_eid=70c896856c.

Find licensing information of temporary help agencies and recruiters online
The Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development maintains a website that lists certain licencing information about temporary help agencies and recruiters, including the status of their licence; whether a recruiter licence is subject to any terms and conditions; and applicants seeking a licence: https://www.tha.labour.gov.on.ca/portal/s/public-facing-status-page?language=en_US&mc_cid=fcb5a5843d&mc_eid=70c896856c.

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 complete our request for legal information/consultation form: https://connectingottawa.com/request-for-information-consultation/.  Along with your completed request for legal information/consultation, please send any documents related to your client’s legal issue by email to info@connectingottawa.com. This will ensure the most efficient response to your request.  As a reminder, we do not provide direct legal services to individuals.