At the start of 2020, we were excited to deliver our usual array of in-person seminars and information sessions to individuals, families and community-based organizations. Our plans changed drastically with the COVID-19 outbreak, and like everyone else, we found ourselves shifting to virtual platforms as our sole means of connecting to the community. That did not stop us from speaking, presenting and advocating at conferences, webinars, information sessions, podcasts, and more events throughout the year. Here are some of our highlights from 2020:
- PooranLaw COVID-19 Legal Updates
One of our biggest initiatives this year was to start a biweekly webinar series for community-based organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March, we have hosted 25 COVID-19 Legal Updates, keeping up with the rapid pace of the ongoing outbreak. These webinars have served as much needed check-ins for not-for-profits and charities in the Developmental Services (DS) sector. We have tried our best to inform attendees on the ever-changing federal and provincial landscape, as well as hear from members of the community on their lived experiences and changes specific to the sector. The feedback we have received has been immensely positive, and we hope to keep providing these updates in the future.
- Inspiring Possibilities Estate Planning Guide – Webinar
This year we released the latest version of our Estate Planning Guide with Community Living Ontario (“CLO”) and offered a companion webinar to provide an overview of the guide and estate planning for people with disabilities and their families. We held two webinars in the fall, which were met with much enthusiasm and engagement – over 200 participants attended each time!
To download the Estate Planning Guide, visit communitylivingontario.ca/en/estate-guide
- Inspiring Possibilities Legal Guide to Engaging Support Workers – New E-Book and Webinar
This year also saw the release of our first ever Legal Guide to Engaging Support Workers for People with Disabilities, also with CLO and with the support of the Law Foundation of Ontario. We have also provided a companion webinar (with future webinars to be rolled out in 2021) to provide an overview of the guide and pointing our viewers to important aspects related to engaging support workers for individuals with disabilities and their families. Over 220 participants registered for the webinar in December. Look out for another session in 2021!
To download the Legal Guide to Engaging Support Workers, visit communitylivingontario.ca/en/legal-guide
- Community Living Ontario (CLO) – Supporting the Health of People with Developmental Disabilities During COVID-19
In April, PooranLaw Partner, Brendon Pooran, took part in a critical webinar hosted by CLO on supporting the health of people with developmental disabilities during the pandemic. Brendon presented a legal perspective on access to health care, along with panelists from Surrey Place, Community Living Parry Sound, and CAMH.
- From Presence to Citizenship – 4th Annual Learning Exchange
PooranLaw was very excited to sponsor the From Presence to Citizenship Learning Exchange in March of this year. From Presence to Citizenship is an all-region initiative that collaborates with over ten DS agencies in the province. PooranLaw partner, Brendon Pooran, spoke at the forum on legal tools and services available to people with disabilities and their families.
- Autism Ontario Webinars
PooranLaw participated in four webinars with Autism Ontario this year. In early March, PooranLaw partner, Cheryl Wiles Pooran, presented on the rights and obligations of families when purchasing supports, as well employer rights and obligations with respect to neurodiversity in the workplace. In July and August, PooranLaw partner, Brendon Pooran, and associate, Saquiba Rahman, partnered with Partners for Planning (“P4P”) to host webinars with Autism Ontario and AIDE Canada on COVID-19 Supports for People with Disabilities and Estate Planning for People with Disabilities and their Families.
- Autism Home Base Symposium
Pooranlaw was very excited to take part in the first family-focused symposium for adults with autism and their families in October. PooranLaw partner, Brendon Pooran, presented an overview of estate planning for individuals and families, including topics such as wills, trusts, legal decision-making and innovative housing options.
- Ontario Developmental Services Human Resource (HR) Forum
In early March, PooranLaw partner, Cheryl Wiles Pooran, held two sessions at the 2020 Ontario Developmental HR Forum in Toronto. Cheryl spoke on key legal developments affecting HR practices in the DS sector, as well as the Apprenticeship Advancement Program with Participation House Project (Durham Region.)
- NCCM National Advocacy Day on the Hill
At the end of January, PooranLaw associate, Saquiba Rahman, attended the National Council of Canadian Muslims’ (“NCCM”) Advocacy Day on the Hill in Ottawa. Saquiba met with Members of Parliament, Ministers and leaders of the major political parties to advocate on behalf of Canadian Muslims, and in particular, Canadian Muslims with disabilities.
- SMILE Back to School Series – Education and Your Legal Rights
At the end of August, PooranLaw partner, Melanie Battaglia, and associate, Saquiba Rahman, participated in SMILE Canada Support Services’ Back to School series over Facebook live. Melanie and Saquiba addressed the legal rights of families that have children with disabilities with respect to education, as well as access to education. The video amassed over 1000 views in one week!
- Ontario Bar Association (OBA) – Exploring the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for Practitioners
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (“CRPD”) promotes the rights of persons with disabilities, including the right to make their own decisions. Canada ratified the CRPD ten years ago – in March 2010. In November, PooranLaw partner, Brendon Pooran, formed part of an expert panel that discussed the impact of the CRPD in Ontario and the opportunities for utilizing it to better represent and access justice for persons with disabilities.
- Canadian Bar Association (CBA) – Website Accessibility Webinar
In February, PooranLaw partner, Brendon Pooran, was a panelist in the CBA’s webinar on “Understanding the Legal, Business and Social Imperatives of website accessibility.” Brendon spoke to the current legal landscape of website accessibility, including the Accessible Canada Act and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
- PooranLaw Estate Planning Sessions – Information Sessions for People with Disabilities and their Families
We continued to provide legal information sessions with community partners throughout the year, starting with in-person sessions at the beginning of 2020 and moving into virtual sessions during the pandemic. These sessions have been focused on estate planning, legal decision-making, the Registered Disability Savings Plan (“RDSP”), microboards and innovative housing options.
Some of our sessions have been hosted by the following community-based organizations:
- Partners for Planning (“P4P”)
- Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
- Community Living York South
- Private Study Groups
- PooranLaw Family Law Sessions – Support for an Adult Child with a Disability
PooranLaw family law partner, Melanie Battaglia, hosted a webinar on child support for an adult child with a disability, as well as the impact of spousal support rights, entitlements and obligations when one spouse has been the primary caregiver for a child with disability. Melanie hopes to host more webinars in 2021 on family law issues.
- Sane Split Podcast
Pooranlaw partner, Melanie Battaglia, was featured on the Sane Split podcast in December! Melanie discussed the intersection of family law and education law. The Sane Split podcast focuses on separation and is run by family law lawyer and mediator, AJ Jakubowska.
We look forward to connecting further with the community in 2021!