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Frequently Asked Questions

Can anyone use this web site?
Sure – anyone with the link.  But the site is intended primarily to be a resource for assessment, information and referral personnel, intake workers and counsellors at our partner agencies.

Why is this so important?
All people should be aware of their rights, entitlements, responsibilities and obligations under the law.  All people should have access to timely, appropriate and affordable legal services, but especially linguistic minorities.

Who are these linguistic minorities?
Ottawa is highly diverse linguistically. Out of 180,000 immigrants, there are over 28,000 recent arrivals. 89,000 residents speak a non-official language at home - there are 69 mother tongues (the most common are Chinese, Arabic, Somali, Spanish, and Farsi). 50,000 residents have a hearing impairment. Over 25,000 have a vision impairment. Over 15,000 have a speech-related disability.  
When residents have difficulty communicating, they have difficulty accessing justice.

Why focus on linguistic minorities?
In Ottawa, 37% of recent immigrants and 17% of persons with disabilities have low incomes. People who live with poverty are vulnerable to many problems that have a legal component, including income security, housing, victimization, discrimination, and access to education.

What challenges does the project seek to address?
Linguistic minorities are often unaware when their issue has a legal component and that legal services should be an important part of a resolution. Often, they will turn to a family member, a friend, a spiritual leader, or a local agency as an intermediary to connect them with a legal service. We want to make sure that these trusted intermediaries point linguistic minorities to the right service.

How will you know whether the project is having any success?
Our short/medium/long term objectives are described in the project’s Logic Model.  We will develop measures that can demonstrate whether or not these objectives have been met. We expect to learn a lot as the project evolves over time. We will share lessons learned with our partner network, via our newsletter, this web site, our annual conference, and other strategies.

How do I become a partner?
Our partners are all organizations, not individuals.  The partners are agencies that deliver community health and social services, legal services, services to immigrants and newcomers, services to persons with disabilities, or interpretation and translation services. Our partners hare our mission to improve access to justice and have each signed a Partnership Agreement.

Who funds the project?
The Law Foundation of Ontario, under the Access to Justice Grants program. The development and design of this web site was supported by funding from Legal Aid Ontario, under the Client Services Coordination Fund.

Who is in charge of the project?
South Ottawa Community Legal Services is the lead agency and administers the funds on behalf of the network of partners.  Representatives from some partner agencies are members of an Advisory Group. You can view the Advisory Group’s Terms of Reference here.  The Group is chaired by Gary Stein.  Responsibility for day-to-day project management has been contracted to a Secretariat.

How can I have input into project planning and implementation?
Contact Nico Koenig – he will connect you with one of the Action Groups or introduce you to the Advisory Group as a prospective member.