A Seamless Approach to Service Delivery in Legal Aid: Fulfilling a Promise or Maintaining a Myth?

Appendix C: Children's Right to OHIP in Canada

The Issue

In Ontario, Canadian born children are routinely denied health coverage on the basis of their parent's immigration status. It is our position that the denial of health coverage solely on the basis of the immigration status of the parents of Canadian born children is contrary to the Ontario Health Insurance Act, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and to Canada's obligations under international law.

Public Legal Education:

Preliminary Work

The community legal worker and students have been working in partnership with several community groups such as the Women's Health Centre at St. Joseph's Hospital and Access Alliance to identify and address legal issues facing clients and strategize on how to best meet community needs. One approach has been the use of informational workshops to address this issue. While these workshops have been highly successful and we will continue offering these types of sessions, they can only reach a limited audience. The production and distribution of pamphlets ensures exposure to a much larger audience and encourages self-help, thereby, reducing the need for direct representation by lawyers. Our assessment of community needs has made us realize that translation of the pamphlets, and other materials into other languages further ensures that this information is communicated directly to other language groups that make up our client population.

Stage One

What we've done so far:

The first pamphlet has already been printed in English (please see attached copy), and Spanish and Portuguese translations are in progress. In addition, we have produced a series of colour transparencies that can be used as a visual aid during public legal education seminars on the topic of OHIP coverage for Canadian children of parents without status.

We have forwarded copies of the first pamphlet to a number of community legal clinics and community health centres. In addition the pamphlet was distributed at a workshop held for service providers at the Toronto Hostels Training Centre and at a Health Fair organized by the St. Joseph's Health Centre, held at the Dufferin Mall, in which over 55 health care providers participated. We continue to distribute the pamphlet throughout the different communities we work with.

Next Step:

Based on our understanding of the community needs we are initially working on getting the pamphlet translated into Spanish and Portuguese. We are in the process of having the draft translations proofread by community members. We hope to expand the translation project to later include Vietnamese and would like to print additional copies in English.

We are also in the process of expanding the colour transparencies into a kit which will contain buttons, posters, the transparencies in booklet form and registration forms for our workshop. This kit could then be passed out to community health centres, ESL classes, etc. to raise awareness of the issue and promote discussion in the community.

Again we plan to translate all these materials into various languages based on community needs.

Stage Two

We would like to continue our public legal education work by creating videos on the issue. The first video we would produce would be a roundtable discussion by experts on the issue. This would include lawyers and other community workers with expertise in this field. The second video we would produce would be a case study of a particular family who agreed to tell their story in this format. The personal story would be inter-cut with an explanation of the legal issues involved.

Stage Three

The third stage we envision for the public legal education part of the OHIP project is a community theatre project. This project would directly involve immigrant communities in the writing and performing of various skits on this issue. Such skits could be used as a lead-in to an educational session with community groups, ESL classes, etc.