Cy and Ruby’s Law: parental recognition for female same-sex partners in Ontario

In Ontario, right now, a woman who is married to a woman who gives birth is not automatically a parent if they use a known sperm donor. Kirsti Mathers McHenry has held management and policy positions at Legal Aid Ontario where, most recently, she was Director, Strategic Initiatives and Planning, Corporate Services.


John Artis, wrongly convicted: What is a day of your life worth?

Oct. 2 of this year will be the second annual Wrongful Conviction Day, which honours the wrongly convicted and raises awareness about what leads to wrongful convictions. John Artis was charged alongside Rubin Hurricane Carter in 1966 with the murder of three white men in Patterson, New Jersey. n 1981, after spending 15 years in prison, Mr. Artis was released. Charges were dismissed in 1985 after the pair was successfully granted a Writ of Habeas Corpus which was upheld by the United States Supreme Court.


Getting through a separation or divorce while staying out of court

Although many assume that most separating couples need a judge to settle things for them in family court, research published in the April 2015 edition of The Lawyers Weekly confirmed what many who practice in the field have long suspected: less than 10 per cent of family law cases actually result in trials. Sharon B. Silbert, J.D. Acc.FM (OAFM) is a lawyer and accredited family mediator practicing in St. Catharines, Ontario.


Legal aid for criminal law matters in Ontario: moving beyond the “loss of liberty” test

In consultations with justice partners and LAO’s advisory committees, Legal Aid Ontario heard again and again about the need to expand criminal certificates beyond the “loss of liberty” test — largely because the impact of criminal conviction is much greater now than in recent years. Nye Thomas is LAO’s Director General, Policy and Strategic Research. Nye has been leading LAO’s financial eligibility project.


Apologies are only the start – a reflection on the release of the report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Earlier this month, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) released its 400-page executive summary of its final report, Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future. It is an important document that provides details and insights into a shameful part of Canada’s past that has only recently begun to come into the consciousness of Canadians. Jonathan Rudin is the Program Director at Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto. In 2001, he helped establish the Gladue (Aboriginal persons) Court at the Old City Hall courts in Toronto.

Canada’s Supreme Court turns down Charter challenge on right to housing

The Supreme Court of Canada has refused the most vulnerable people in our society the opportunity to have their claims that the government is violating their human rights heard in court. Shocking, but true.Tracy Heffernan was co-counsel in Tanudjaja v. Canada and program director at the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario. Her centre organized the Right to Housing Coalition of people from many backgrounds and expertise, including people with lived experience of homelessness or of being inadequately housed, community organizations, advocacy groups and academics.


The Legal Health Check-Up project: an intermediary’s perspective

Available in paper or electronic form, the Legal Health Check-Up gives trusted intermediaries like Michael a list of questions to ask the client in the areas of income, housing, employment, education and health to identity the common legal problems of people living in poverty. Colleen Sym is the Executive Director/Lawyer at Halton Community Legal Services, a community legal clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario..


In honour of Pride, highlights from the last year in LGBTQ news in Ontario

Ontario becomes first province to ban ‘conversion therapy’ for LGBTQ children “Ontario has passed a landmark law banning so-called “conversion therapy” on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children and preventing medical practitioners from billing OHIP for it.” Read more at: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/06/04/ontario-becomes-first-province-to-ban-conversion-therapy-for-lgbtq-children.html Gender identity to guide housing of Ontario’s transgender inmates “Transgender inmates in Ontario will […]

Expanding LAO’s services: the road ahead

In my last blog, I said that Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) had met with hundreds of stakeholders to help us make informed decisions about expanding legal aid eligibility. We recently announced the road LAO plans to take, and I am pleased to say that it is a comprehensive, multi-year plan to significantly enhance access to justice for low-income Ontarians.Nye Thomas is LAO’s Director General, Policy and Strategic Research. Nye has been leading LAO’s financial eligibility project.