Outdated Canadian Laws Are Being Updated

Legal progress has been on the forefront for many groups and legal practitioners and hopefully will be for a long time.  For instance, there have been some significant strides in overcoming challenges such as removing the tampon tax, and lawyers advocating for financial assistance for stay at home moms involved in family law matters.

Tampon tax

As of July 1st women will not have to pay GST on feminine hygiene products – long overdue in my opinion. The NDP party worked on this project for 11 years before reaching this point.  Women around Canada are relieved to finally not have to pay GST on necessary products. Some individuals are against this new step as it removing the tax will cost the government approximately around $36 million. Some males have also argued that feminine hygiene products are not a necessity – many females disagree for obvious reasons.  Some women have taken to social media to express their excitement in this new step towards equality.

Contingency fees in divorce cases

Lawyers are advocating to allow for contingency fees in order to avoid stay at home mothers from representing themselves in court.  Contingency fees are based on two scenarios: the lawyers will be paid if they win the case or if the case is settled outside of court.

The problem is that many stay at home mothers cannot afford legal representation as their husbands controlled finances.  Consequently, husbands are put in an advantageous position as they can afford legal representation while stay at home mothers are left to represent themselves.  Ontario is the only province that outlaws no-win no-fee legal arrangements in family law cases. Some lawyers are taking steps to change this reality by writing to the provincial government and explaining how this practice is detrimental to marginalized groups.  These lawyers are attempting to help improve access to justice by giving stay at home moms a fighting chance.

Employment law

Legal Aid is now looking into assisting individuals who are in conflict their employers. Approximately $9.8 million is being pumped into the system to help Legal Aid with this initiative. Currently, York Region and Mississauga are some of the regions with the least amount of funding for such matters.

Countless individuals are deprived of their hard earned wages and left to fend for themselves due to their lack of legal knowledge. In some cases employees are deprived of up to $10 000 in overtime wages.  Workers often hesitate to take action against their employers as it could result in losing their jobs or is sometimes just too costly. Legal Aid aims to bridge this gap by providing cheaper legal services for individuals that fall within the low income bracket. The low income bracket was revised earlier this year and will continue to expand in attempt to reflect the needs of the population.

Discussion points:
1.  Which area of law listed above do you think is most outdated and should be addressed first?
2.  How do you feel about contingency fees in family matters?

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