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Connecting Ottawa Communique

Connecting Ottawa Communique
8 fevrier 2023

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:

Free Income Tax & Benefit Clinics in Ottawa: Information for Frontline Workers to Support Clients
Date:  Tuesday, February 14, 2023
Time:  11:00 a.m. – 12:00 pm
Speakers:  Bill Singleton and Jonathan Rothschild
Zoom link:
Meeting ID: 863 0249 3912
Passcode: 348687

Legal information and updates: 

Black History Month
February is Black History Month — a great opportunity to learn the history of Canadian Black communities, celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black Canadians to our culture and country and to commit to and act towards a more inclusive and just Canada.  Some great resources include: Ontario Black History Society:, Black History Ottawa: and the GOC Black History Month website:  Also remember that the Black Legal Action Centre, a sister organization, providing free legal services to members of Ontario Black Communities is available to your clients:

New Connecting Ottawa intake form
We updated our intake form with additional questions to ask your clients before reaching out to us for a legal consultation. These questions give Connecting Ottawa’s lawyers a better sense of a client’s situation. This should enable us to assist you and your clients effectively and efficiently by minimizing the amount of back and forth that is often required during the consultation process. We also encourage you to use these questions as part of your organization’s intake process even for non-legal matters.   To access the intake sheet, visit:

Legal Aid Ontario and Community Legal Clinics – New Connecting Ottawa infosheet 
There is some confusion about the difference between Legal Aid Ontario and community legal clinics. Connecting Ottawa created a new infosheet to clarify the difference between the two and to provide you with additional information about the specific areas of law they help with and the financial eligibility criteria for each.  Download the information sheet at:

Connecting Ottawa’s Overview of Refugee Law Hand-Out
Connecting Ottawa immigration lawyer Heather Neufeld has prepared a new information sheet that provides basic information about the Canadian refugee claim process as well as a review of each element of the Convention refugee definition. The key elements that an individual must prove to succeed on a refugee claim, such as facing future risk on a Convention ground, lack of protection from their home state and the inability to safely or reasonably reside in another part of their home country are discussed. This document will assist frontline workers to better understand the elements their refugee claimant clients must prove in order to succeed on their claim. Download the information sheet at:

Commissioner of Oaths at City of Ottawa
A Commissioner of Oaths can sign affidavits, statutory declarations, and certain applications. Commissioner of Oaths’ services are available in person at four Client Service Centres by appointment only: Commissioner of Oath | City of Ottawa. The request for the service must be made by the same individual taking the oath and signing the document. You must present 1 original piece of photo identification, such as a driver’s license, valid passport, new health card*, or a BYID age-of-majority card. If your identification is in a language other than English or French, an official translation of the document may be required. *Note: the City of Ottawa does not accept health cards as a form of identification for any other service.

Parkdale Food Centre opens Community Advocacy Office
Parkdale Food Centre’s Community Advocacy Office is now open.  Staff are available to meet with clients to identify needs and assist with accessing available resources.  The office is open Tuesday and Wednesdays from 11:00 – 2:00 p.m. for drop in or by appointment. There are no access restrictions in terms of where people live in the city. Learn more about the program at:

The University of Ottawa Community Legal Clinic notary services 
The University of Ottawa Community Legal Clinic provides notary services by appointment only to students of the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. This includes certifying true copies of original documents and swearing or affirming documents that are to be used inside or outside Ontario. This is a service for undergraduate students only: Notary Services | Faculty of Law (

Welcome package for displaced Ukrainians
Refugee 613 has developed a new resource for displaced Ukrainians in collaboration with Jewish Family Services Ottawa. Linked below is a Welcome Package for displaced Ukrainians arriving in Ottawa with a CUAET Visa. The package outlines the settlement and social services available to recent arrivals to help support their transition to Canada. Please share widely with your colleagues and clients!

Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO) seeks research participants for study on legal and housing needs
ACTO is seeking participants to join a research study on the legal and housing needs of people who have experienced domestic violence, sexual violence, and/or human trafficking AND have had issues with their housing (i.e. faced eviction, stayed in emergency shelter, etc.). Interviews will be recorded but are confidential and run 60-90 minutes. Participants will not be asked about the abuse they experienced. Interested participants can complete this form to set up an interview: Your Way Forward Project (  Gift cards will be given to participants in recognition of their participation. More information is available at:

Legal Aid Ontario explains what happens when you are criminally charged
Legal Aid Ontario created an information sheet on your rights if you are charged with a crime. The information sheet is available in both English and French: Accusation criminelle – Aide juridique Ontario (

CLEO Connect webinar:  Navigating The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) … Eligibility and application process
Date:  Thursday, February 16, 2023
Time:  12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: Elsie Dickson, Staff Lawyer, Jane Finch Community Legal Services and Anum Malik, Staff Lawyer, Scarborough Community Legal Services
Register at:
The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) provides income and employment support to people with disabilities. This follow-up webinar will give community workers information about the application and eligibility process, what is needed to prove a disability, as well as what forms and information are required during this initial stage. We will also cover appealing a denial and what to expect from a medical review. 

EarlyON Centres
EarlyON Child & Family Centres are welcoming and supportive places where children (ages 0-6) and their parents, grandparents, and caregivers can play and learn together. At EarlyON’s free multi-age drop-in playgroups, families can explore a variety of early learning activities together, speak with early years professionals, and meet other families in their neighbourhood. No pre-registration is required to join.  To find a centre, visit:

Ontario providing free naloxone kits in workplaces
The Ontario government is launching a program to make free naloxone kits (and free training) available at workplaces where there is a risk of staff witnessing or experiencing an opioid overdose.  For more information visit:

Changes to the Employment Standards Act: business and IT consultants
Effective January 1, 2023, the Employment Standards Act (ESA) will no longer apply to employees who are defined in the ESA as business consultants or information technology consultants, providing they meet specified criteria outlined in the Working for Workers Act.  More information about the change will soon be published in Your Guide to the ESA. In the meantime, you can find the legislation set out in Schedule 2 of the Working for Workers Act.

Employment and vulnerable populations
Recent publications on employment issues related to vulnerable populations shared by the Institute for Work and Health

  • Small businesses struggle to provide newcomers with occupational health and safety training and support. Read the article.
  • Older workers are reluctant to communicate their need for support, citing ageism and protection of their reputation. Read the article. Listen to webinar.

On the Radar – changes to some Ontario court fees
On January 1, 2023, the government raised some of the fees that people pay to use Ontario’s courts. They also made changes to how much money a person can make to qualify for a fee waiver. Community Legal Education Ontario explains more in their February 2023 edition of On the Radar: 

CLEO’s On The Radar: Changes to some Ontario court fees – Steps to Justice.

Reminder: Monthly earnings exemption to increase for Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) from $200 to $1,000 per month
As of February 1, 2023, ODSP is increasing the monthly earnings exemption from $200 to $1,000 per month without affecting ODSP income support, benefits, or eligibility. This means that the amount people can earn without any deductions will increase from $200 to $1,000. The new exemption rules apply only to adult benefit unit members who are either persons with a disability or members of a prescribed class – other benefit unit members remain subject to current exemption rules. The amount that is deducted on income above the new exemption amount will also increase from 50% to 75%. This change will be reflected in the March 2023 payment.

Reminder: New Two-Year Pilot for Work Permits for Spouses and Working Age Dependent Children of Temporary Foreign Workers
As of January, 2023, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada began to issue work permits to spouses and working-age dependent children of individuals coming to Canada as temporary foreign workers. In the past, only the spouses of high-skilled workers could obtain a permit to work full-time in Canada at the same time as their spouse coming to work here. However, under this new policy, which will be rolled out in phases, eventually spouses and working-age dependent children of workers at all skill levels will be able to come to Canada with their own work permit when accompanying the temporary foreign worker. This will permit more family members to come to Canada together and contribute to their family’s income. Although the two-year policy begins this month, the work permits for the family members of low-skill workers are not yet available. For more information, see:

Reminder: Canada Dental Benefit and Healthy Smiles Ontario
Healthy Smiles Ontario is a free dental program for eligible children and youth 17 years of age and under. If your child’s dental care is covered by Healthy Smiles, you can apply for the Canada Dental Benefit (CDB) only IF Healthy Smiles does not cover the full cost of your child’s dental care. For example, if your child’s dental care cost $300 and Healthy Smiles only covered $200, you can apply for the CDB. The amount you get from the CDB is based on your income. If you receive $650 from the CDB because your annual income is below $70,000, you can use the benefit to cover the remaining $100 you paid out-of-pocket and keep the $550 unused portion. Make sure to keep all receipts and invoices for any dental care you paid for because the Canada Revenue Agency may ask you for this information at any time. We also encourage you to speak with your Ontario Works or ODSP caseworker to confirm whether or not the unused portion of the benefit counts as income. To download the updated CDB information sheet from Connecting Ottawa, visit: Connecting Ottawa Resources – Connecting Ottawa

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.

Ontario government doubling Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payment beginning January 2023
The Ontario government is doubling the GAINS payment for all recipients for 12 months beginning January 2023. This measure will increase the maximum GAINS payment to $166 per month for single seniors and to $332 per month for couples, a maximum increase of almost $1,000 per person in 2023. Starting January 2023 until December 2023, the doubled payment will be issued automatically as part of regular monthly GAINS payments. For more information on GAINS, including the eligibility criteria, see here: Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System payments for seniors |

Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits extended to 26 weeks as of December 18, 2022
A reminder that the federal government extended the maximum period of EI sickness benefits from 15 weeks to 26 weeks. These extra weeks are available for new EI sickness claims established on or after December 18, 2022.  For more information see Community Legal Education Ontario’s recent On the Radar: CLEO’s On the Radar: Changes to EI sickness benefits – Steps to Justice.

Proxy marriages not permitted under Canadian immigration law
At Connecting Ottawa, we receive many questions concerning whether an individual can sponsor their spouse for permanent residence after marrying in a ceremony that did not involve both spouses being together in-person. In many cases, one spouse is in Canada and the other abroad. They conduct the ceremony by video or relatives represent one of the spouses at the wedding. It is important to know that such « proxy » marriages are not permitted for Canadian immigration purposes. Individuals who seek to sponsor a spouse based on marriage must have physically married in the presence of the other spouse.

All children have the right to attend school in Ontario except visitors (other than CUAET)
We often speak to workers who are confused about who may study at elementary school and secondary school in Ontario. Please note that all children have the right to study for free, including children with no immigration status. Whether children may study has nothing to do with whether or not their parents pay taxes. The only children who may not study at elementary and secondary school for free are those who are in Canada on a visitor visa. All other children have the right to study.  Although children on visitor visas are not permitted to attend school, the province has made an exception for Ukrainians who enter as visitors pursuant to the Canada Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET). All Ukrainian children are permitted to study without paying fees.

10 paid sick days for workers covered by federal labour laws
If you are employed in an industry that’s covered by Federal labour laws such as airlines, railways, trucking, banking, or telecommunications, you will have up to 10 paid sick days in 2023. These permanent, employer-paid sick days came into effect under the Canada Labour Code on December 1, 2022. However, the earliest that workers can access their paid sick days is January 1, 2023 when they will have access to 3 days after 30 days of continuous employment. After that, you earn 1 additional day at the start of each month. any paid sick days not used each year can be carried to the next calendar year. For more information on Federal paid sick leave, visit the Workers’ Action Centre: 10 Paid Sick Days for Workers Covered by Federal Labour Laws ( or read their helpful information sheet: Federal-Paid-Sick-Leave-Factsheet_English_Dec-2022.pdf (

CLEO’s Guided Pathway to fight eviction now has a personalized checklistCLEO’s free Guided Pathway can help clients whose landlord is trying to evict because of unpaid rent. The Eviction Solution Explorer asks questions about the situation, gives information to help answer them, and creates documents based on the answers. At the end of the pathway, clients can download and save or print all selections and notes in a personalized list. For more information on the Eviction Solution Explorer, visit:

OW/ODSP treatment of « Catch Up Payment » benefits
At the end of October, the Ontario government announced the new « Catch Up Payment » benefit to help pay for student learning supports to help fill gaps that may have emerged because of COVID‑19.  MCCSS has advised that the new COVID-19 « Catch Up Payments » being issued through the Ministry of Education to address learning gaps due to the pandemic will not be considered income for purposes of determining eligibility for social assistance.  Eligible applicants (parents/guardians or secondary students aged 18) can apply from now until the end of March 2023 for one-time payments of:

  • $200 for each student between kindergarten and Grade 12, up to age 18
  • $250 for each student with special education needs between kindergarten and Grade 12, up to age 21

Connecting Ottawa lawyer Liz Majic recently published an information sheet on this new benefit.  You can view the info sheet at:  For further details and to access the application form, see

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.comalong with an Intake Form:  This will ensure the most efficient response to your request.  As a reminder, we do not provide direct legal services to individuals