Our Community Outreach – 2019

It has been another busy year for the PooranLaw team as our lawyers delivered seminars in-person and online to a variety of individuals, families and community-based organizations across Ontario. Here are a few of this year’s highlights:

  1. Labour and Employment Education for Families

This year PooranLaw’s labour and employment team continued to provide information sessions for families across the province in relation to key developments in labour and employment law.  Our sessions for families in the community and on-line have been focused on the fundamentals of employment law and the implications of using direct funding to purchase supports.  This year we have seen an increase in the scrutiny that the courts and government have placed on “independent contractor” relationships.  Our information sessions for families have therefore focused on ensuring that families have the resources and information with which to make informed decisions about how they structure their relationships.  PooranLaw is pleased to announce we working on a plain language e-book with practical tools and templates for families on this topic for release in 2020 – stay tuned!

2. Estate Planning Information Sessions

In 2019, PooranLaw continued to provide practical and informative sessions on estate planning to community groups across the province. While our estate planning sessions cover the basics of Wills, trusts (including Henson Trusts for people with disabilities) and Powers of Attorney, we also encourage estate planning from a Whole Life Planning perspective. In order to ensure the long-term financial security of their loved ones, families should consider all facets of their whole life plan, including instruments such as the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP), Disability Tax Credit (DTC), Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), microboards, housing options and others. This year, in addition to estate planning, PooranLaw delivered sessions on legal capacity, RDSPs, microboards and innovative housing options.

3. DSHR Strategy Forum

In February 2019, PooranLaw lawyers, Cheryl Wiles Pooran and Susan Munn, were pleased to present to Developmental Service Sector leaders on key labour and employment law developments, reviewing key legal developments from the preceding twelve months (including in relation to Bill 148, Bill 47, WSIB policies on mental stress related injuries) as expected developments for the coming year.  Cheryl was also pleased to review legal developments, national standards, and best practices related to promoting psychological safety in the workplace.  Cheryl looks forward to presenting on at next years Forum in March 2020.

4. OASIS Conference 2019 and OASIS Labour Relations Fall Forum

In May 2019,  PooranLaw Partners Brendon Pooran and Cheryl Wiles Pooran were joined by Social Enterprise leader and Corbrook, Deepak Soni, to discuss the legal strategies and social enterprise success stories that are creating opportunity, facilitating supported employment transition, and enabling financial security and stability for people and agencies in the DS Sector in Ontario.  PooranLaw reviewed the human rights and employment law imperative for change and social enterprise development, as well as the labour, employment, corporate, tax and charities law considerations for agencies considering social enterprise development. Deepak then reviewed how all of these legal variables have come together in an incredible social enterprise success story at Corbrook.

In October 2019, Cheryl was also pleased to participate in OASIS’ fall forum discussing options and opportunities for promoting continuing professional development and building capacity in the workforce, aligning wages with qualifications and quality and strategic collective bargaining.

Cheryl and Brendon both look forward to participating in OASIS 2020 in Huntsville, Ontario in May.

5. OCSA CommunityConnect 2019 Conference

PooranLaw attended the Ontario Community Support Association’s (OCSA)  CommunityConnect 2019 conference in late October, where Cheryl Wiles Pooran and Susan Munn delivered a dynamic session on Psychological Safety in the Workplace. Cheryl and Susan reviewed the unique challenges faced by front-line support workers in the home and community care sector and shared HR best practices for implementation at various stages of the employment life cycle.

6. SAAAC Access Counts – Autism Conference

PooranLaw had the pleasure to speak at the South Asian Autism Awareness Centre’s (SAAAC) Access Counts, annual Autism Conference this September. The conference, meant to drive and inspire a conversation around equitable autism support services, brought together industry leaders, researchers, practitioners and members of the community. Cheryl Wiles Pooran delivered an informative session on direct funding and employment law for families engaging workers, while Brendon Pooran spoke about Microboards and future planning of family members with disabilities.

7. Social Enterprise at Community Living Ontario

At the 66th Community Living Conference this year in Thunder Bay, Brendon Pooran was joined by Social Enterprise leader and Community Living Toronto CEO, Brad Saunders, to discuss the legal strategies and social enterprise stories that are creating opportunity, facilitating supported employment transition, and enabling financial security and stability for people with disabilities in Ontario. Brendon reviewed the human rights and employment law imperative for change and social enterprise development, as well as the labour, employment, corporate, tax and charity law considerations for agencies considering social enterprise development. Brad spoke to the process that his organization is currently undergoing  to incorporate these legal variables into a social enterprise and the impact that it will have on people supported by Community Living Toronto.

8. 10thAnnual Policy Forum on Inclusion

On December 2nd, PooranLaw Partners Brendon Pooran and Cheryl Wiles Pooran presented at the 10th Annual Federal Policy Forum on Inclusion in Ottawa. This forum, hosted by the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) and People First of Canada, was designed to explore poverty related issues and employment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.  Cheryl spoke about the importance of transitioning from sheltered work to real jobs for real pay, while Brendon discussed opportunities to unlock assets held in Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSP).

9. Regional Support Associates

On October 25th, Stephanie Dickson had the opportunity to attend the annual conference of the Regional Support Associates (RSA).  Along with two self-advocates from Essex County, Stephanie spoke to an audience of more than 120 developmental services and allied health professionals about the decision-making rights of people with intellectual disabilities. Our team fielded a variety of questions from the audience, emphasizing the need for increased training, education and self-advocacy to overcome the many access to justice barriers faced by our client community.

10. Education and Human Rights Panel with SMILE Canada

On December 17th, SMILE Canada Support Services hosted a panel on Education and Human Rights with PooranLaw lawyers Melanie Battaglia, Faisal Bhabha and Saquiba Rahman. Melanie, Faisal and Saquiba spoke on the rights of children with disabilities in the education system and how parents can advocate for their child. The panel was followed by an engaging discussion on issues faced by children with disabilities and their families, as well as on issues specific to children with disabilities and families from racialized or marginalized groups. PooranLaw looks forward to collaborating with SMILE in the future.

11. PooranLaw Legal Update Newsletters, Case Law Updates and Webinar Series

This year we have continued our commitment to building knowledge and awareness of key sector specific through our Legal Update Newsletters and Case Law Updates as well as PooranLaw’s free Legal Update Webinar series.  The following is a list of the key legal issues we tackled this year:

    • Bill 124, Wage Restraint Legislation
    • Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Reform
    • Pay Equity
    • Cannabis in the Workplace
    • Education Law
    • Harassment in the Workplace
    • Employment Standards Reform
    • Privacy and Consent
    • Mental Health in the Workplace
    • Landlord and Tenant Issues
    • Frustration of Contract and Attendance Management
    • Non-Profit Governance
    • Union Organizing and Collective Bargaining
    • Direct Funding
    • Employee vs. Independent Contractor Classifications
    • ODSP Employment Supports

Stay tuned for Webinar Invites and Registration information.