Background Information on the Wellington County Mobile Legal Service
The Legal Clinic of Guelph and Wellington County provides free legal assistance for low income residents in Guelph and Wellington County, primarily with housing and income issues (tenant rights, Ontario Works, Ontario Disability, CPP disability, employment). The Clinic has received a grant from The Law Foundation of Ontario to test the delivery of outreach and legal information in rural areas, with a mobile legal service and through partnerships. The project runs from February 2019 to November 2019 with the service being delivered between May and October of 2019. The Clinic is working in partnership with the Wellington Family Health Teams, East Wellington Community Services, Wellington County Public Library, Wellington County Social Services, Community Justice Initiatives and Legal Aid Ontario. The project plan and delivery will be done in consultation with the partners. An evaluation will be done to make recommendations for best practices and for observations to be shared widely. The project is called the Wellington County Mobile Legal Service (WellCoMs).
The service itself is for an outreach worker and a legal services navigator to travel in a dedicated van throughout the County and attend at 11 rural communities approximately twice a month. Currently the plan is for: Clifford, Mount Forest, Harriston, Palmerston, Drayton, Arthur, Fergus/ Elora, Erin, Hillsburgh, Rockwood and Puslinch. The van will be set up in a parking lot, either through a private business or a public service, with prior consultation and consent. There will be a pop up tent and coffee and refreshments served. The date and location of attendance will be announced in advance to the public and to partner services. Anyone can come and talk to the Legal Clinic team about everyday legal issues they are experiencing. There is no income or eligibility screening. In the event of inclement weather, the service will be moved indoors based on prior consultation, consent, and arrangements for the space. Skype consultations will be available with Clinic lawyers and paralegals in the event of a critical time sensitive issue.
We are hoping that the Clinic will reach people “upstream” and where they live. We are testing whether having a more informal, accessible service based on drop in and holistic conversations will make people feel more comfortable in seeking help and whether we will reach people who would otherwise not contact the Clinic.
In addition, community members will benefit from the greater availability of public legal information pamphlets and resources, as well as supported referrals to other agencies that can help. The Clinic will also continue to support agencies that are helping clients through our secondary consultation service.
About The Law Foundation of Ontario
Established by statute in 1974, The Law Foundation of Ontario is the sole foundation in Ontario with the mandate of improving access to justice. Through granting and collaboration, the Foundation invests in knowledge and services that help people understand the law and use it to improve their lives. Learn more at www.lawfoundation.on.ca