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Frequently Asked Questions

Can anyone use this website?

Sure. This site is developed to help individuals find accurate information, resources, and referrals to assist with their legal, social service, and communication needs.

Why is Connecting Ottawa Needed?

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.

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 difficult accessing justice.

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

What challenges does Connecting Ottawa 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 do I become part of the partnership network?

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 have 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.

Who is in charge of the project?

Community Legal Services of Ottawa 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. 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?

Send us your ideas at

Who does Connecting Ottawa work with?

Connecting Ottawa works with a network of partner organizations and front-line service workers that assist linguistic minorities. However, we do not work with individual clients.

How did this project evolve?

“Our project evolved from a report authored by Karen Cohl and George Thomson who advocated “”a consortium of local legal and non-legal organizations and provincial bodies to develop strategies to improve linguistic access to information and services, working together as a coherent system within the region…”” [Connecting Across Language and Distance: Linguistic and Rural Access to Legal Information and Services, Dec. 2008] “