What’s new?

New Federal Policies and Rules

In November, 2015, a new Federal Government came into power. With a new Government, there are some new changes in laws and policies.  Here are a few examples of what’s new at the federal level:

Doubling Quota for Sponsored Parents and Grandparents:

As promised, the Liberal Government increased the annual quota for parents and grandparents sponsorship applications from 5,000 to 10,000.  However, they have not changed the 2014 regulations that require sponsor to earn at least 30% above the Low Income Cut Off, nor have they reversed the 20 year sponsorship period back to 10 years.  This means low income Canadians will still not qualify to be a sponsor.

New Photo Requirement for Permanent Resident Application

Applicants for permanent resident application must now submit a much bigger photo of themselves.  The new photo requirement is 50 mm x 70 mm (or 2 inches wide x 2 ¾ inches long) and that the height of the face must measure between 31 mm and 36 mm (1 ¼ inches and 1 7/16 inches) from chin to the top of the head.

On the back of the photo, in addition to writing down the applicant’s name and date of birth, an applicant must also provide date, name and address of the photography studio.

Long Form Census

The Federal Government also brought back the mandatory long form census, which was cancelled by the previous Conservative Government. This is what Statistics Canada sends out once every five years to find out more information about what is happening to the people living in Canada (e.g. how much they earn a year, who they are living with, their race, gender, and age, among other things).  The mandatory long form census is an important source of information not only for governments but also for researchers and community groups.  The mandatory long form census gives us a more complete picture of what life is like in Canada. For instance, we can find out whether there are particular groups of people who are not doing well and need more help, or how immigrants are doing compared with the Canadian born.  With these data, government can more properly assess the impact of their policies on the people and find out who needs government’s help the most.

Interim Federal Health for Refugees

Finally, the new Liberal Government has also made good on its promise that it would not continue to fight a Charter Challenge launched by refugee rights groups to oppose the decision made by the previous Conservative Government in cancelling health care for many refugees.

The Conservative Government made changes to the Interim Federal Health Program which provides health care coverage to refugee claimants.  Under the changes, many refugees who have lost their claims became ineligible for coverage.  Even those who were still eligible saw their coverage drastically reduced.  A coalition of refugee lawyers, doctors, and community organizations went to the Federal Court to challenge the cancellation of the IFH on the basis that it violates the rights of refugees under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Federal Court agreed.  The previous Government appealed

the decision to the Federal Court of Appeal. But before the Court of Appeal could hear the case, the Conservative lost the election.

New Provincial Rules

There are some changes at the provincial level as well. For instance, beginning on January 1, 2016, there are some new Highway Traffic Rules:

  • All private insurance companies must offer discounts to those who buy and install winter tires
  • When approaching crossovers and school crossings, drivers will now have to yield the entire road to pedestrians. Previously, drivers were permitted to pass as long as the pedestrians weren't in the vehicle's path. As of 2016, motorists have to wait until pedestrians have completely crossed the road before proceeding. 
  • Some fees for drivers will also increase in the New Year.
  • The Ontario government is launching a pilot project to allow for the testing of automated vehicles. Starting on Jan. 1, driverless or self-driving vehicles will be permitted along provincial roads including highways.

Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP)

Do you want financial assistance with paying your electricity bill? If so, read on!

The Ontario government recently introduced the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) to help reduce the electricity bills of low-income households.

OESP reduces the cost of your electricity bill by applying a monthly credit directly to your bill. Qualifying individuals can expect to receive a reduction of $30 to $50 from each month’s electricity bill.

Your eligibility for OESP and the amount you can receive depends on the total household income and the number of people living in the home. All applicants with a household income less than $28,000/year are eligible for OESP. If your household income is between $28,000 - $39,000, there must be at least 3 people living in your home to qualify. If your household income is between $39,001 - $48, 000 there must be at least 5 people living in the home. If your income is between $48,001 - $52,000 there must be at least 7 people living in the home. People with a household income greater than $52,000 are not eligible for OESP.

To apply for OESP you will need the following:

  1. Your most recent electricity bill
  2. Names and birthdates of all the residents in your home as registered with the Canada Revenue Agency
  3. Social Insurance Numbers (SINs), Individual Tax Numbers or temporary taxation numbers for residents over the age of 16.

You can apply online at: https://ontarioelectricitysupport.ca/ (please note the website is only in English and French).

If English or French is not your first language and you live in the Greater Toronto Area, you can seek assistance from any of the organizations listed below:

TCCSA York Centre (Markham South)

Metro Square, 3636 Steeles Avenue East, Unit 213A
Call first to book appointment (905-948-1671)
Monday to Friday: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Saturday: By appointment only
Languages offered: Mandarin and Cantonese

Must be Permanent Resident of Canada in order access services

Costi Immigrant Services (North York)

Sheridan Mall, 1700 Wilson Ave., Suite 114
Call first to book appointment (416-244-0480)
Monday to Friday: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
Languages offered: Mandarin, Cantonese, and Vietnamese

Dixie Bloor Neighbourhood centre (Mississauga)

3650 Dixie Road, Suite 103
Call first to book appointment (905-629-1873)
Monday to Friday: 8:30am to 5:30pm

Languages offered: Mandarin, Cantonese, and Vietnamese

Scarborough Housing Help Centre (Scarborough)

2500 Lawrence Avenue East Unit 205
Call first to book appointment (416-285-8070)
Monday to Thursday: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
Friday: 8:30 am- 2:00 pm

Languages offered: Mandarin and Cantonese

Neighbourhood Information Post (Downtown Toronto)

269 Gerrard Street East, 2nd Floor
Call first to book appointment (Ann Fan: 416-924-2543, ext. 230)
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 9:30am to 4:30pm,Wednesday: 1pm to 4:30pm   

Languages offered: Mandarin and Cantonese

 

CICS (Scarborough)

2330 Midland Avenue
Call first to book appointment (416-292-7510)
Monday to Friday: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Languages offered: Mandarin and Cantonese

Must be Permanent Resident of Canada in order access services

 

SEAS Centre (Downtown Toronto)

606 Gerrard St. East
Call first to book appointment (416-466-8842)
Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm

Languages offered: Mandarin, Cantonese, and Vietnamese     

Thorncliff Neighbourhood Satellite Office (Downtown Toronto)

269 Gerrard Street East, 1st Floor
Call first to book appointment (Sarah Shi 647-296-0839)

Monday to Thursday: 9am to 5 pm
Languages offered: Mandarin and Cantonese

TCCSA (Downtown Toronto)

310 Spadina Avenue, 3/F, Suite 301
Call first to book appointment (416-977-4026)
Monday to Friday: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Saturday: by appointment only

Languages offered: Mandarin and Cantonese

Must be Permanent Resident of Canada in order access services

 

Fraud alert!

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) issued an fraud alert last week because several people were telephoned by someone claiming to be associated with the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) and wanting access to their homes.

There is new telephone scam targeting individuals. The Ontario Energy Board has received reports that persons claiming to be affiliated with the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) were calling to request access into consumers’ homes. In two incidents last week, residents were contacted about the OESP, and notified that a home inspection was a condition of the program.

Please be aware that the OESP application and approval process DOES NOT require a home visit. OEB staff do not conduct home audits, check furnaces, or install equipment for this or any other program. If you have received such calls, you can notify the OEB at 1-877-632-2727.

For more information, please read:

http://www.ontarioenergyboard.ca/oeb/_Documents/Press%20Releases/news_release_OESP_Consumer_Alert_20160127.pdf

Chinese Restaurant Workers Survey         

Over the years, our clinic has seen many clients working in the restaurant industry coming to us for assistance regarding their labour rights issues.  Although the Employment Standards Act clearlyspells out workers’ entitlement to minimum wage, public holiday, vacation, overtime pay etc., workers working in the restaurant industry often fail to receive these basic legal entitlements.  These workers seldom take steps to fight for their rights and file their claim to Ministry of Labour as the idea of goingafteran employer withfar more financial and professional resources could be quite intimidating.

In order to gather more information on Chinese Restaurant workers’ working conditions and their workplace compliance with the Employment Standard Act, our Clinic has launched asurvey about Chinese restaurant workers.Through the survey, we also want to find out workers’ experience with the enforcement mechanisms of Ministry of Labour, including the claim process and the Ministry’s workplace inspection.  These valuable data and input from restaurant workers will be used to support our advocacy work and for developing recommendations tothe provincial government so as to bring aboutgreater protection of worker’s rights.

A questionnaire has been designed for the survey and our staff will conduct telephone interview with Chinese restaurant workers in the months of January and February.  Community agencies of the Labour Committee – Chinese Interagency Network will also contribute to the project.  They will also conduct the questionnaire interviews of their clients or refer their clients to us.