Law Foundation-Funded Advocates in the Times of COVID


June 2020

Since mid-March, when restrictions to limit the spread of COVID came in place, the poverty and family law advocates funded by the Law Foundation have been particularly busy. Often a key resource of people with limited resources, advocates in communities across BC have been helping clients dealing with a sudden loss of income, the possibility of losing their housing, and family issues complicated by the current isolation guidelines or family violence. Despite changed and challenging circumstances, advocates around the province have continued to work with clients to inform them of their rights, help them find the supports they need, and to represent their interests in the face of threats to housing or other supports.

The Law Foundation has been working on several fronts to support our funded advocates. Foundation staff have been in touch with all of our advocacy programs to talk about the work they are now doing and what their office needs to do that work in changed circumstances. The Foundation has provided emergency funding to help groups adapt their systems to allow them to work remotely with clients; providing funding for things such as increased Internet services, laptops, or other supports.

The Foundation has also worked with advocates to provide up-to-date information about changes in law and policy. Foundation staff maintain a regularly updated list of information resources about relevant law and policy, as well as available supports. They have also organized training webinars open to advocates, clinic lawyers, and supervising lawyers to provide updates on income assistance, employment insurance, residential tenancy, immigration and refugee law, family law issues, and the revised procedures in both the courts and tribunal processes. Executive directors of our funded groups were invited to a webinar on best practices and legal obligations for managing a non-profit during a pandemic. Lawyers from groups funded by the Foundation, as well as lawyers in the private bar and other resource people in the community, have presented the webinars.

The advocacy services and legal clinics that the Law Foundation supports work with people around the province. Click here for a current list of the Law Foundation advocacy and legal clinic services in BC.