Legal system failing middle class in Canada

October 17 2012 by Ellen Roseman

Many people sent me their heart-wrenching stories in response to my column about the lack of access to legal services by middle-income earners. I’m posting a few below.

Even many low-income people are badly served by Legal Aid, which won’t pay for routine family law and consumer cases.

Here’s a link to the book that sparked the controversy and talks about how to broaden access to justice.

I also want to mention that Financial Literacy Month is going ahead again in November.

As part of the national events, I’ll be doing my Ryerson workshop, Financial Basics, on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 5 to 9 p.m., at the Chang School on Victoria St., Toronto.

The session is free and comes with a great workbook. You can register here or you can just show up on the date.

You can find more about the Financial Basics workshop and order materials at the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s website.

Rob Carrick, the Globe and Mail’s personal finance columnist, wrote about the 12 taboo topics during Financial Literacy Month. Here’s a link to that column, which may disappear once the Globe puts up its pay wall next week.

21 comments

  1. Brian

    Oct 18 2012

    If the authors of this book really cared about changing the legal system for the betterment of the middle class and the poor, they would have recommended an end to taxpayer-funded lawyers for affluent doctors — even the docs that work for auto insurance companies.

    The taxes paid by the working poor and the middle class (folks who can’t afford a lawyer when they need one) are paying for these high-paid lawyers of the wealthy.

    Do these professors think to mention that the Canadian Medical Protective Association is sitting on a $3 billion litigation war chest used to deploy their price-is-no-obstacle “scorched earth” hardball litigation tactics against poor and middle class victims of negligence, malpractice, and/or substandard insurer-sponsored medical assessments?

    This is done on the backs of the poor and middle class taxpayer.

    No. By their silence, these professors have demonstated that they are happy with this arrangement — an overly funded CMPA system versus a gutted legal aid system. Pathetic.

  2. Harold berglas

    Dec 12 2012

    Why can’t we do simple things over the net?

    a) land titles survirship application

    b) Estate admin tax/ probate with will certification

    c) and many more using Service Ontario to validate ID, Documents, Commissioning and an Online system that has verbiage and forms for filing.

    After all the clerk/judge needs the same thing for every case, and with online systems, I don’t need to travel to Newmarket or Toronto to have my five minutes in court, show the papers and go away again.

  3. Harold berglas

    Dec 12 2012

    Another peeve. Someone dies, so we fill out death statment(details like birth date, parents, etc.) and together with death certificate-MEDICAL, we run to funeral home, who run to city, who submit forms to get burial certificate, who take that to cemetery.

    BUT if I am a Muslim or Jew, I need to wait 2-3 days for someone to handle the request, while the body gets “overtime pay” at the funeral home, and we all wait.

    We need an online system, so we don’t use cars/forms, admin (wake up calls, etc.) and make it a smooth online experience for the funeral home to handle effecienctly. Like in 1-2 hours, not 3-4 days.

    Each municipality has different rates and the burial fee is now $11, death registration about $30-35, and oh yes, “death-certificate-Ontario” is about $15 or so.

  4. Harold berglas

    Dec 12 2012

    It would be nice if a death triggered notification to SIN, CRA, EI, CPP, OAS, OHIP, veterans, driver’s license, motor vehicle license, land titles, to name a few agencies, to prevent fraud and assist the survivors in their paperwork.

    Also passports, census, elections (federal, provincial, municipal), plus so many more agencies.

  5. N

    Dec 17 2012

    Access to the judicial system is so asymmetric it isn’t funny.

    My grandmother was sold a phony investment (bonds that turned out to be worthless) by an unscrupulous couple. For her, it was a fortune and she never got a penny back.

    So, she tried to use the judicial system to get her money back, and it turned into a long, futile endeavor.

    The scammers were able to use their ill-gotten gains to fund an expensive lawyer, whereas my mother-in-law simply wasn’t able to afford a civil case. So, in the end, the scammers walked away scot free.