Need Help Adjourning a Halifax or Dartmouth Provincial Court Date?

Current circumstances have led to the closure of Provincial Courts for all but urgent and essential matters. Effective June 1, 2020, the Provincial Court will permit some in-custody trials and in-custody preliminary inquiries to proceed in-person for urgent and essential matters, where all public health directives can be followed. For individuals not in custody, all trials and preliminary inquiries scheduled in June and July that involve an accused individual who is not in custody will be adjourned to a later date. You can apply for a lawyer for a trial matter at your nearest Legal Aid Office or online at https://www.nslegalaid.ca/online-application/.

If you have a matter for first appearance, plea, or other types of appearance in June and do not have a lawyer, Nova Scotia Legal Aid (NSLA) wishes to extend an invitation to contact NSLA for assistance with adjournments. NSLA can provide a one-time service to assist unrepresented individuals to obtain an adjournment of their matter. There is no financial assessment for this adjournment service.

In HRM, the best way to request assistance for an adjournment is to complete the online form at  HRM Provincial Court Adjournment. The online form only gathers the information necessary to make a request to adjourn a court date on your behalf. Priority will be given to online requests for assistance.

In HRM, you can also apply for the adjournment service by calling 902-420-7800.  Please leave a message with your full name, date of birth, and your upcoming court date and location. A representative will be in touch to confirm we can assist. Please try to contact NSLA with your request at least 2 days before your court date so we can ensure that counsel is available and advised of your request. While we will try to contact you with your new court date, it will still be your responsibility to find out your new date yourself by contacting NSLA or the courthouse where your case is being heard.

Individuals without a confirmed lawyer to appear for them should not attend court in person and must contact the courthouse for instructions. Information can be found in the Provincial Court directive: https://www.courts.ns.ca/News_of_Courts/documents/NSPC_Consolidated_Directive_COVID19_03_31_20.pdf

For individuals outside of Halifax/Dartmouth or seeking full-service representation, apply online or by telephone at their local NSLA Office if they wish to retain a lawyer and believe they may qualify for legal aid. A list of NSLA Offices can be found here:  https://www.nslegalaid.ca/legal-aid-offices/

Support Variations During COVID-19 – New Ways to Help

Nova Scotia Legal Aid (NSLA), Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) and Court Services have coordinated to establish new ways to help for support variations during COVID-19. FAQs for payors and recipients can be found here:  Support Variations During COVID-19 Pilot FAQs

Tammy Wohler – Nova Voce Article – “Supporting the Vulnerable”

Below is the above-noted article wherein Tammy Wohler, Social Justice Office, did an article for the CBA’s Nova Voce Special Edition on COVID-19 on the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable persons. Her article begins on page 16.

CBA Nova Voce Spring 2020

Josh Nodelman – CBC Article – “Legal Aid wants to help Nova Scotians facing steep COVID-19 fines”

Below is a link to the above-noted article wherein Josh Nodelman, Halifax South, discusses summary offence tickets issued because of COVID-19.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/covid-19-summary-offence-tickets-legal-aid-lawyer-help-nova-scotia-1.5567487

May 5 Update re NSLA Services

 

 

 

 

May 5, 2020

 

Dear NSLA Clients, Applicants, Community Partners & Stakeholders:

RE:          NOVA SCOTIA LEGAL AID SERVICES

As a result of enhanced directives from the Province of Nova Scotia and the state of emergency, Nova Scotia Legal Aid (NSLA) Offices are closed to the public. We are providing the updated information below to assist you with contacting our offices, or in referring Nova Scotians to our service. Please note that updates to services or new services since the April 1, 2020 notice are noted in red.

General Information

  • Although NSLA Offices are closed to the public, as an essential service, we will continue to help Nova Scotians who require our services.
  • Although our physical offices are closed, staff are working remotely, and office main lines are operational. NSLA Offices can be reached by telephone, or email. A list of offices can be found at https://www.nslegalaid.ca/legal-aid-offices/
  • Voicemail and email accounts will be regularly monitored.
  • NSLA Offices will not be regularly staffed so please do not send anything via fax.
  • If a Legal Aid client has an upcoming court matter, they should contact their lawyer regarding their court date if they have not already heard from them.
  • All outreach into communities by NSLA staff will be suspended until further notice.
  • Please be patient when contacting NSLA and expect delays in receiving a response to telephone calls, emails, or an application. As a result of changes in service due to COVID-19, there will be a large increase in the volume of calls, emails, and online applications which staff must handle.

Appointments & Applying for Legal Aid

  • If an individual has an appointment at a NSLA Office, they should call the office so other arrangements can be made. Appointments with NSLA may be held by telephone or video if possible.
  • Applicants for legal aid services can apply online at https://www.nslegalaid.ca/online-application/. NSLA Offices will screen applications for urgent matters first. With an expected increase in the volume of online applications, we ask applicants to please be patient in waiting to hear from NSLA regarding their application.

Criminal Law Matters (Adult & Youth) & Domestic Violence

Family Law Matters

  • Updates regarding the status of all courts can be found on the NS Courts website at: https://www.courts.ns.ca/News_of_Courts/COVID19_Preventative_Measures.htm
  • NSLA is continuing to provide family summary advice services at all Courthouses through scheduled telephone appointments. This service is available to Nova Scotians who do not qualify financially for legal aid.
  • NSLA has expanded its family summary advice services by making it available by telephone at all Legal Aid Offices that provide family law services. Details: https://www.nslegalaid.ca/expansion-of-family-law-summary-advice-and-online-chats/
  • A Support Variation Pilot Process has been put in place effective May 4, 2020. This is a joint Pilot of the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP), Courts Services and NSLA. MEP will identify self-represented parties who have had a change of income as a result of COVID-19 and, with the individual’s consent, will notify the Managing Lawyer of the appropriate NSLA Office and MEP will also advise the individual to apply for Legal Aid.
  • Online chats with a lawyer for family matters will continue and an extra day has been added. Family law chats are now being held every Tuesday and Thursday from 3-5 pm. Click on the chat button on our website to start https://www.nslegalaid.ca/

Social Justice (Income & Housing Matters)

  • Social Justice services are still available. NSLA offers legal advice and possibly full-service representation for income and housing matters. Contact local NSLA Office to apply.
  • Individuals facing a loss of income and have questions about accessing regular or sickness Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits, or the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) can obtain help from NSLA. Details: https://www.nslegalaid.ca/updated-information-about-ei-cerb-covid-19/
  • Online chats with a lawyer/advocate for social justice matters will continue. Online chats for income and housing issues are held every Wednesday from 3-5 pm. Click on the chat button on our website to start https://www.nslegalaid.ca/

Prison Law Services

We appreciate your patience and cooperation during this time.

Yours sincerely,

Megan Longley, QC

Chief Executive Officer

Do you Need Advice on Obtaining a Peace Bond?

Obtaining a Peace Bond

 

 

 

Do you need advice on obtaining a peace bond?

Nova Scotia Legal Aid (NSLA) is committed to assisting people applying for peace bond orders.  A peace bond is a court order to stay away from a person(s) or property and is issued by a Judge or Justice of the Peace upon reviewing evidence and hearing witnesses.  A peace bond lasts for one year.  If you are fearful of your safety or the safety of someone in your family, you may want to consider seeking a peace bond, in addition to other safety planning steps.

NSLA recognizes that the process of applying for and appearing in court to request the peace bond order can be difficult and we are here to help.  NSLA Staff Lawyers can assist by explaining the steps required to begin a peace bond application and then explaining the court process.  Peace bond hearings will take place over the telephone as part of the courts of Nova Scotia’s ongoing response to COVID-19.

If you are seeking assistance to apply for a peace bond, you can contact Nova Scotia Legal Aid at 902-420-7800 or apply online at: https://www.nslegalaid.ca/online-application/. A lawyer will contact you and provide you with confidential advice and assistance.

PDF Version:  Peace Bonds

NS Legal Aid Commission 2017-23 Strategic Plan

The Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission is pleased to share its 2017-23 Strategic Plan (SP). The SP was recently updated by the Commission for the 2020-23 fiscal years. This Plan continues to prioritize client-focused goals for improved and more accessible service as well as system-focused goals to better support the work of Nova Scotia Legal Aid staff in serving Nova Scotians.

NSLAC Strategic Plan 2017-23

Prison Law Services – Looking for Answers About Temporary Absences?

Temporay Leave of Absences
Looking for Anwers?

 

 

 

NSLA can assist you with applying for a temporary leave of absence (TA) if:

• You have less than 90 days left to serve on your sentence; and
• You have an address where you will be able to reside for the duration of your TA.

For further information please contact the NSLA office that provides criminal Legal Services to the court where you received your sentence.

The contact numbers for the various offices of NSLA who provide criminal law services are as follows:

NSLA Office location Toll-free Number
Amherst 1-866-999-7544
Antigonish 1-866-439-1544
Bridgewater 1-866-543-4658
Dartmouth 1-877-420-8818
Halifax 1-877-777-6583
Kentville 1-866-679-6110
New Glasgow 1-877-755-7020
Port Hawkesbury 1-888-817-0116
Truro 1-877-777-5920
Windsor 1-866-798-8397
Yarmouth 1-866-742-3300

Lee Seshargiri – The Lawyer’s Daily Article – “Criminalizing COVID-19 transmission via sexual assault law? No. And that means no”

Below is a link to the above-noted article wherein Lee Seshagiri, Halifax South Office, argues against criminalizing COVID-19.

https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/articles/18817/-criminalizing-covid-19-transmission-via-sexual-assault-law-no-and-that-means-no-lee-seshagiri?category=opinion

Updated Information About EI/CERB & COVID-19

Employment Insurance/Canada Emergency Response Benefit & COVID-19
Updated 04/20/20

During the COVID-19 public health crisis, Nova Scotia Legal Aid continues to provide legal services to individuals regarding Employment Insurance (EI) matters. Current clients and new applicants may suddenly be facing a loss of income and have questions relating to accessing regular or sickness Employment Insurance Benefits, or the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

At this time, individuals can apply for Legal Aid over the phone by calling their local office, or online at https://www.nslegalaid.ca/online-application/. They can also chat online with a Social Justice lawyer on Wednesdays from 3:00 to 5:00 PM.  For more information on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, please see below.

Who is eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?
The benefit is intended for those who have lost employment or self-employment income because of COVID-19. This includes workers who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, are taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, and working parents who must stay at home without pay due to school or daycare closures.

Workers aged 15 and older who have stopped working because of COVID-19 and who will be expected to be without an income for at least 14 consecutive days are eligible for the CERB if they have had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application. 

Do I need a certain number of hours to be eligible for the CERB?
No. Unlike regular EI benefits, the CERB does not require that applicants have worked a certain number of hours.

Do I need to have earned a certain amount of income to be eligible for the CERB?
Yes. Applicants must have earned at least $5,000 in income in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application. This income can be from employment, self-employment, maternity and parental benefits under the EI program and/or similar benefits paid in Quebec under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan.

How do I apply for the CERB?
Individuals can apply online if they have registered for a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) My Account or a My Service Canada Account. Otherwise they can apply over the phone with an automated phone service. Applications will open on Monday, April 6, 2020.

In order to streamline the applications process, Service Canada has designated specific days for individuals to apply based on what month of the year in which they were born. Individuals are being encouraged to use the following guidelines to determine what day to apply for the benefit:

If you were born in the month of Apply for CERB on Your best day to apply
January, February or March Mondays April 6
April, May or June Tuesdays April 7
July, August or September Wednesdays April 8
October, November or December Thursdays April 9
Any month Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays

Do I need to get a ROE from my employer to apply for the CERB?
No. You do not need a Record of Employment (ROE) to apply for the CERB. You will need to know your Social Insurance Number (SIN) and postal code in order to verify your identity.

How long will I have to wait before I start receiving payments?
After you have applied for the CERB, you should receive your first payment within 3 business days if you have signed up for direct deposit. If you haven’t signed up for direct deposit, you can expect to receive your first payment within 10 business days.

How much money will I receive?
Applicants who are eligible for the CERB will receive $500 per week for a 4-week period. The amount for the 4-week period will be paid to you as a single payment of $2,000.

How long does the benefit last?
Once you apply, you will receive the benefit for 4 weeks. After the initial 4-week period, if you are still without work, you can re-apply for another 4-week period, up to a maximum of 16 weeks.

What if I’m still receiving some income from employment/self-employment but it’s been reduced because of COVID-19? Am I still eligible for the CERB?
You may be eligible for the CERB if you have earned $1,000 or less in employment and/or self-employment income for 14 or more consecutive days in the first 4-week benefit period of your claim. For subsequent claims, you cannot have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for the entire 4-week benefit period of your new claim.

My employer hasn’t laid me off, but I don’t have any hours and have not been receiving any income, am I eligible for the CERB?
Yes. Even if you are still technically employed, but you aren’t working due to COVID-19 restrictions, you can apply for the CERB. You must have no employment income for 14 consecutive days during the initial 4-week period.

Can I apply for the CERB even if I’m eligible for regular or sickness EI benefits?
Yes. If you became eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits on March 15, 2020 or later, your EI claim will automatically be processed as a CERB claim.

What if I select the wrong benefit category when I apply for EI? Can I change or update my application?
If you have applied for regular or sickness EI benefits on or after March 15, 2020 but lost work due to COVID-19, then your application will be automatically processed as a CERB application. If you would be entitled to more than the CERB amount under regular EI benefits you will not get the higher amount. You will retain your eligibility for regular benefits after you stopped receiving the CERB. If you are concerned about an error on your application for benefits, contact Service Canada at 1-800-206-7218.

What if the CERB monthly amount is more than my current monthly income? Will I receive the full $2,000?
Yes. When you apply for the CERB and are deemed eligible, you will receive the full amount of the benefit regardless of what your monthly income was prior to having lost your employment.

If I applied for EI regular benefits or EI sickness benefits before the CERB was announced will I receive the CERB or the benefit I applied for?
If you lost work due to COVID-19 and applied for EI regular or sickness benefits on or after March 15, 2020, your application will automatically be processed as a CERB application.

What if I’m currently receiving regular EI benefits? Will I still receive my payments?
Yes. If you have an open EI claim that is unrelated to COVID-19, your benefits should not be interrupted by the introduction of the CERB. You should still receive your regular EI payments.

What if my regular EI benefits have ended? Can I apply for the CERB?
If you are receiving regular EI benefits that end before October 3, 2020, you can apply for the CERB once your regular benefits have ended. You must meet the eligibility criteria for the CERB.

Can I still apply for other EI benefits, including maternity, parental, caregiving, fishing and work-sharing?
Yes. If you meet the eligibility requirements for other EI benefits, you can still apply as you normally would.

Do I have to pay taxes on my CERB payments?
Yes. All EI benefits are considered taxable income by the CRA, including the CERB. You will need to report any CERB payments received when you file your 2020 taxes.

Am I eligible for the CERB if my only source of income is Income Assistance, CPP, or another type of government benefit?
No. The CERB is a benefit intended for those who have had interruptions in earned income. These types of government benefits are considered unearned income. However, your government benefits should not be affected by COVID-19. You should still be receiving Income Assistance, CPP payments, etc.

What if I’m a student and now unable to find summer employment?
You may be eligible if you were working part-time and lost employment due to COVID-19 and meet the other eligibility criteria. If you were a student and you were not working, you are not eligible for the CERB.

What if I was working outside of Canada?
If you have earned $5,000 in 2019 or within the 12-month period prior to applying for the benefit, it does not matter whether that income was earned in Canada or not. You must reside in Canada to eligible for the benefit.

What if I am not a Canadian citizen?
Permanent residents and temporary residents who have Social Insurance Numbers are eligible for the benefit if they are residing in Canada. A SIN is required for these individuals to work in Canada or to receive benefits and services from government programs.

What if I am a temporary foreign worker?
If you are a temporary foreign worker or international student, you may be eligible for the CERB if you meet the other eligibility factors. Contact Service Canada for more information.

What if I’m newly self-employed and haven’t yet earned any income?
You may be eligible for the CERB if you cannot earn any self-employment income due to COVID-19 and you meet the other eligibility criteria.

Other Resources:
Service Canada information on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit:
https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html

How to Apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit:
https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/apply-for-cerb-with-cra.html

PDF Version:  COVID 19 EI and CERB (April 20, 2020)