QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER

Manitoba's Access to Justice Stakeholders

A newsletter to connect Manitoba's A2J community
The Director of Access to Justice and Community Engagement moves to the U of M Faculty of Law

"AN ACCESS TO JUSTICE PROGRAM IS OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE TO THE EDUCATION OF FUTURE LAWYERS"

Natasha Brown, former Manitoba Access to Justice Coordinator at the Law Society of Manitoba, joined the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Law as the Director of Access to Justice and Community Engagement on April 10th, 2023. In her new role at Robson Hall, Brown will be responsible for coordinating the Access to Justice Advisory Network, which will serve as a resource for justice system stakeholders and will help to address access to justice issues in our province. She will also bring an access to justice lens to the Faculty of Law’s many clinical programs. Brown is a familiar face at Robson Hall, having taught courses over the last seven years, including Access to Justice, Family Law, and organized the former Western Canada Family Law Negotiation Competition. In Brown's former position through the Law Society, she was successful in leading access to justice initiatives and coordinating access work amongst stakeholders.

The launch of this newsletter is an initiative directed at furthering engagement in the A2J community. Hosted through the recently launched Manitoba's Access to Justice Hub website, the newsletter is an axis to keep A2J actors connected to updates in their community, including achievements, developments, or changes in services across A2J organizations, as well as highlighting upcoming A2J events and prominent A2J news in the province. Sent out on a quarterly basis, we encourage you to subscribe and participate in building a better connected A2J community in Manitoba.

Upcoming:
This week, the Director's office received confirmation of funding from the Manitoba Law Foundation to host the inaugural Access to Justice Forum for the Access to Justice Advisory Network in the spring of 2024. Please stay tuned for further details and date confirmation.

Natasha Brown
Director of Access to Justice and Community Engagement
“Working within the walls of Robson Hall allows me to help foster a culture of access to justice among not only faculty members but also law students who will go on to take those principles and values out into the world when they start their legal careers. I am thankful for the efforts made by the Faculty of Law to ensure an access to justice program is of utmost importance to the education of future lawyers.”
– Natasha Brown

Most Recent Posts from A2J Blog

Funding and Learning Opportunities | Possibilités de financement et d’apprentissage

Shared on behalf of Family Resolution Service, Courts Division, Manitoba Justice Funding Opportunity: From the Ground Up We would like to share the Department of Municipal and Northern Relations’ new community development grant opportunity called From the Ground Up – Safe Healthy Communities for All. Grants under the program will support initiatives in the areas of community capacity building, community …

Inuit Legal Clinic Stakeholder Summit

Authored by Tasha Ellis, University of Manitoba, Faculty of Law articling student-at-law At this landmark summit, Inuit Elders, community members, and stakeholders from Nunavut and Manitoba were invited to gather on Treaty 1 territory at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law, to learn, share information, and discuss the need for an Inuit-specific Legal Clinic in Manitoba. The two-day event …

Trusted Intermediaries - Legal Information (TI-LI) Within Bars but Not Without Rights: Legal Information and Library Access for Incarcerated Persons / Information juridique et accès aux bibliothèques pour les personnes incarcérées

Shared on behalf of Within Bars But Not Without Rights Panel TI-LI members are invited to attend an exciting, free panel presentation advocating for access to libraries, law, and legal information for incarcerated persons in Canada. Please share this invitation widely with any in your network who may be interested in this panel. Within Bars But Not Without Rights: Legal …

International Access to Justice Forum 2024 Call for Proposals

October 23-25, 2024Hosted by Osgoode Hall Law School, York University,Toronto, CanadaRegistration coming soon!Submit a proposal by May 31, 2024 Osgoode Hall Law School of York University is pleased to announce that the 2024 International Access to Justice Forum (IA2J Forum) will take place at Osgoode Professional Development, in downtown Toronto, Canada, from October 23-25, 2024. For those interested in presenting at the …

Legal Information for Incarcerated Manitobans (LIIM) Initiative

By: Kirsten Wurmann - Librarian, Legal Information for Incarcerated Manitobans Initiative “Prison libraries play a fundamental role in guaranteeing rights, not only providinginmates with access to information about their legal rights as incarcerated personsbut also by providing the tools necessary to exercise these rights.”1 The Legal Information for Incarcerated Manitobans Initiative is a project of the Manitoba LawLibrary (MLL) and the …

Access to Justice Week 2023

October 2023 saw the success of the annual Access to Justice Week, jointly hosted by The University of Manitoba Faculty of Law, the Law Society of Manitoba, and the Manitoba Bar Association. There were four events focusing on themes of French Language Rights, the Progress and Obligation to Advance Access to Justice in Manitoba, Racial Equity, and Family Law. All events were recorded and are available for viewing on the Manitoba's Access to Justice Hub website.

https://news.umanitoba.ca/access-to-justice-begins-with-understanding/

A2J Community Brief & Updates

Manitoba Court of Appeal

Court Complement
For the first time since September 1, 2022, the Court of Appeal is at full complement. I was appointed Chief Justice on May 31, 2023. Justice James Edmond, Justice David Kroft and Justice Anne Turner were appointed to the Court of Appeal on August 23, 2023. Justice Turner and I are bilingual and able to hear appeals in both official languages.

The Court now consists of five supernumerary judges and eight full-time judges. There are no vacancies.

Justice Freda Steel will be retiring May 1, 2024, after almost 24 years on the Court of Appeal and a total of 29 years on the Bench.

Timeline to Set Appeals
Currently, once an appeal is perfected, we are able to offer a hearing date within two to three months.

Integrated Case Management Project
The Province of Manitoba and Thomson Reuters, with the input of the staff and judges of the Court of Appeal, are in the process of developing and implementing the Integrated Case Management Project (ICMP). The goal of this project is to fully digitize court documents and allow for the filing of documents electronically. Paper filings in the vast majority of cases will be eliminated. Exceptions may be made for self-represented parties.

The ICMP will transform court records from paper to digital as well as the manner in which judges, lawyers and self-represented litigants deal with court files. It will allow parties to have access to the Court Registry without having to travel to Winnipeg. Parties who reside in remote locations may appear by videoconference and may access documents electronically.

The estimated timeline for the ICMP to be operational in the Court of Appeal is September 2025. We are currently on target.

This system will offer better access to justice for Manitobans.

A2J Week
On October 24, 2023, I was the keynote speaker on a panel organized by the University of Manitoba, Faculty of Law entitled Access to Justice in French: A World to Discover (L’acces a la justice en francais: Un monde a decouvrir). The topic was the ability to access justice in French at all levels of Court in Manitoba.

Marianne Rivoalen
Chief Justice of Manitoba – juge en chef du Manitoba

AJEFM/Infojustice

AJEFM/Infojustice provides free legal information for the Francophone public in all areas of law. They offer free and confidential individual consultation in French, group workshops and webinars in French, and offer free legal representation for francophone victims of intimate partner violence who qualify.
Highlights:
  • AJEFM/Infojustice successfully obtained the translation in French of 5185603 Manitoba Ltd et al v Government of Manitoba et al, 2023 MBCA 47 outlining the proper approach to be taken where there is a discrepancy between the French and English versions of the legislation.
  • AJEFM/Infojustice recently collaborated with the court to mandate that bilingual legislation be cited in both French and English.
  • In collaboration with the Law Society of Manitoba, the scope of client language rights in Manitoba is now precisely outlined.

Legal Help Centre (LHC)

Legal Help Centre is operating similar to their pre-pandemic arrangements with a focus on providing summary legal services to qualifying individuals through in-person drop in clinics running on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. LHC now follows a hybrid in-person and phone-in model, providing a limited number of phone appointments available for clients in rural areas or those who are otherwise unable to attend in person.
Highlights:
  • An LHC representative is sent to the Millennium Library on the first Wednesday of each month for community outreach.
  • January 2024 saw the appointment of Danielle Magnifico as Legal Director of LHC.

Community Legal Education Association (CLEA)

Community Legal Education Association continues to provide legal information through a variety of services, including videos, fact sheets, phone-in and lawyer referrals, online training courses, webinars, etc.
Highlights:
Upcoming Events:

The Law Society of Manitoba

In addition to ensuring that the public is well-served by a competent, honourable, and independent legal profession, The Law Society of Manitoba has been making substantial investments in access to justice.
Highlights:
  • The Regulatory Sandbox Pilot Program continues to be open for application. The Sandbox Pilot is designed to improve access to justice by improving access to legal advice and assistance. Individuals, business and organizations with an interest in providing legal services that assist those with unmet legal needs or otherwise improve access to justice/legal services are encouraged to apply.
  • Civil Society Organizations:
    The Law Society approved an additional application from an organization to be designated as a Civil Society Organization (CSO) to permit the delivery of legal services by lawyers to clients of the organization, through the organization. The approved CSO focuses on the provision of legal information and services in the French language with a view to improving access to justice for francophones and French-speaking newcomers.
  • Part-Time Practising Fees Pilot:
    The program offers a part-time practising fee to private practice lawyers who work reduced hours to accommodate their child-care or other regular care-giving responsibilities and meet the program criteria. The program helps promote greater equity, diversity and inclusion in Manitoba‘s legal profession.
  • The Path:
    Launched in October 2023, practicing Manitoba lawyers can start taking the Indigenous Intercultural Awareness and Competency Training called The Path. The Path was unanimously approved by the benchers on March 24th, 2022 as mandatory training for all practicing lawyers in Manitoba. The course addresses various Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Calls to Action, in particular, #27 which calls upon Canadian law societies to ensure all lawyers receive appropriate cultural competency training, which includes learning about “the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal – Crown relations.

Public Interest Law Centre (PILC)

The Public Interest Law Centre represents groups and individuals on issues affecting the environment, human rights, Indigenous people, consumers and low-income persons.
Highlights:
  • PILC Engagement Report: PILC recently published their Stakeholder Engagement Report.
    As part of regular outreach, as well as a strategic planning exercise to sharpen and maximize their ability to fight for systemic transformation, PILC conducted extensive stakeholder engagement during Spring 2021. They hosted webinars and one-on-one meetings for non-profit organizations, grassroots groups, academics, and First Nations to share their communities’ greatest legal needs, largest access to justice barriers, and ideas on how PILC could help. Their findings are now publicly available here.

The Manitoba Law Reform Commission

The Manitoba Law Reform Commission is an independent law reform agency created in 1970 by The Law Reform Commission Act. Its role is to improve, modernize and reform the law and administration of justice in Manitoba. Projects of law reform are initiated in response to suggestions from the public, the legal profession and Manitoba's Minister of Justice and Attorney General. The Commission carries out research and consultation and makes formal recommendations for law reform to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General. The Commission's work is funded by grants from the Government of Manitoba and the Manitoba Law Foundation.
Highlights:
  • On June 29, 2023, the Commission released its most recent report. Report #145 – “The Use of Non-Disclosure Agreements in the Settlement of Misconduct Claims”. The report can be found here: manitobalawreform.ca/pubs/pdf/145-full_report.pdf.
  • Some of the projects currently being considered by the Commission include a review of the administrative state in Manitoba, with a particular focus on the processes and procedures surrounding judicial review of administrative tribunal decisions; as well as whether Manitoba should enact legislation which would provide Manitobans with a specific pre-trial mechanism to dismiss strategic lawsuits against public participation (“SLAPPs”).
  • Change in leadership at the Manitoba Law Reform Commission: In December 2023 the Manitoba Law Reform Commission bid farewell to Kristal Bayes-McDonald as outgoing Director and Legal Counsel, and welcomed Janelle Wagner as incoming Director and Legal Counsel.

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

Since July of 2021, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) and First Nations Family Advocate Office (FNFAO) have been proud to house Manitoba’s first Civil Society Organization, the First Nations Family Advocate Office Legal Services.

In recognition of the drastic over-representation of First Nations children in the care of Child and Family Services (CFS) in Manitoba, this innovative legal service provides assistance to First Nations families involved with the CFS system, and supports the FNFAO’s mission of “bringing our children home.”

FNFAO Legal Services is the product of a partnership between AMC-FNFAO, the Manitoba Law Foundation, The Law Society of Manitoba, the Public Interest Law Centre and Legal Aid Manitoba. The aim of the service is to enhance access to justice for First Nations families, as well as to encourage self-government and self-determination of First Nations, and promote reconciliation through a recognition and affirmation of First Nations laws, institutions, knowledge and ways of being.

Providing direct legal advocacy, negotiation and legal research, lawyers with FNFAO Legal Services are tasked with addressing individual and systemic legal issues present within the Child and Family Services and judicial systems. Direct representation is provided by FNFAO Legal Services to the clients of FNFAO on a pro-bono basis for Child Protection matters, seeking or opposing legal guardianship, obtaining access for grandparents, pursuing human rights complaints (particularly those tied to child protection matters), addressing issues related to the Public Guardian and Trustee, and with making representations regarding the appointment of decision-makers by the Office of the Commissioner for Adults Living with an Intellectual Disability.

The addition of FNFAO Legal Services to AMC-FNFAO complement’s the office’s pre-existing provision of programming, support and advocacy to First Nations families that are involved with the Child and Family Services system. AMC-FNFAO has provided services to First Nations Families since 2015, and the addition of the legal service in 2021 has allowed for greater coordination between social and legal supports to obtain better results for First Nations families. The AMC-FNFAO now offers true wraparound services to its clients.

First Nations parents and family members interested in accessing FNFAO Legal Services should contact the First Nations Family Advocate Office at (204) 957-8450.

Legal Clinics at the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Law

The Faculty of Law offers students a wide-range of externship opportunities during their third year of law school. These programs serve two main purposes: first, they provide students with hands-on experiential learning opportunities so as to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-world settings. Second, students are able to provide legal information and services to underserved populations, thereby helping to address access to justice gaps in the community.

Students typically work two days per week with their externship organization and earn 12-credit hours toward their law degree. Under the supervision of practising lawyers, students engage in legal work ranging from legal research and information to hands-on client work. In addition to the externship program, students also have opportunities to volunteer at some of the legal clinics in their second or third year.

The following legal clinics are currently operating at the Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba.
  1. L. Kerry Vickar Business Law Clinic:
    The Business Law Clinic provides free legal assistance to entrepreneurs, small businesses, start-ups, innovators and family businesses, non-profits, charities, artists, art, culture, and community organizations who do not have a lawyer and cannot afford legal assistance. The clinic is operated by law students of the Faculty of Law and all Information provided by law students is supervised by experienced lawyers.
  2. Manitoba Legal Clinic for the Arts:
    Newly launched in 2023, the Manitoba Legal Clinic for the Arts is the only clinic in Manitoba that provides free legal information and services tailored specifically to artists and arts organizations. The clinic is operated by law students under the supervision of practicing lawyers. The clinic assists artists with issues such as contracts, intellectual property, sale of goods, and technology.
  3. University of Manitoba Community Law Centre (UMCLC):
    The University of Manitoba Community Law Centre is an independent Legal Aid office that is staffed exclusively by Robson Hall students, overseen by a supervising Legal Aid Manitoba lawyer. Students manage their own files, which deal with summary conviction criminal cases. In addition, it may provide assistance for Highway Traffic Act offences, small claims cases that involve consumer problems, individual disputes with Manitoba Public Insurance, and some straightforward family law files.

    Potential clients of the UMCLC must meet the Legal Aid Manitoba eligibility requirements. The UMCLC is a cost-effective service. With most of the labour donated, the cost per person assisted is less than $100.00.
  4. Cochrane Saxberg Indigenous Community Legal Clinic (ICLC):
    The ICLC provides hands-on opportunities to students, such as developing and managing client files and conducting qualitative research. The clinic receives general support from Cochrane Saxberg law firm, including lawyer supervision. Students will also work directly with high school students from the Seven Oaks school division to increase “pathways in and out of law school.” Students will have an opportunity to learn theory about decolonizing and Indigenizing law, as well as how to integrate these principles into the practice of law.

    The ICLC is still in the process of creating an intake process. More information will be available in the coming months.

In addition to the internal legal clinics operating within the Faculty of Law, students work at various legal clinics operating in Manitoba, including the Legal Help Centre, the Law Library Hub, and the Public Interest Law Centre.

Resources for A2J Stakeholders

211 Manitoba
Those of us working in the A2J space are well aware people's legal issues frequently intersect with social issues that are outside the sphere of what the legal system can effectively resolve. 211 Manitoba provides direction to resources that can help people meet their needs. 211 Manitoba is the front door to community-based government, community and social services designed to meet the needs of diverse populations, across all different aspects of life. It is a free, confidential service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in more than 200 languages, including 4 Indigenous languages. Click the link here to see the topics they provide access to.