A Qualitative Look at Serious Legal Problems Faced by Immigrants in Greater Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia

Appendix 1: Interview Guide

Appendix 1: Interview Guide
Themes and Interview Questions Probes
Warm Up
Can you start by telling me a bit about yourself and your background?
  • Where did you live before coming to Canada? Is this where you spent the majority of your life? If not, where else have you lived?
  • How long have you lived in Canada?
  • Since arriving in Canada, have you always lived in [Greater Victoria or Vancouver]? Or did you first live somewhere else in Canada? If so, where?
Identification of Serious Problems and Disputes Experienced in the Last Three Years
In the last three years, or since you came to Canada, have you experienced a problem or dispute between you and another party (a person, business, government, or other entity) that was serious and not easy to fix?
  • What type of problem or dispute was it?
  • Was it related to…
    • Money you owe (debt)
    • Money owed to you?
    • Your employer or your job?
    • Your house or apartment, your rent, your mortgage?
    • Harassment or discrimination?
    • A large purchase or a service for which you did not get what you paid for?
    • Immigration, refugee status, or sponsoring a family member’s application to immigrate to Canada?
    • A personal injury or serious health issue; a poor or incorrect medical treatment?
    • Family conflict, or a breakdown of your family or relationship, such as a divorce or separation?
    • Child custody or other problem involving parental responsibilities?
    • Your neighbours, such as vandalism, property damage, threats, or excessive noise?
    • Contact with the police or another part of the criminal justice system as a victim of a crime?
    • Contact with the police or another part of the criminal justice system because of something you are accused of doing?
    • Obtaining social or housing assistance, old age security, or guaranteed income supplement, or other government assistance, or with the amount received?
    • Obtaining disability assistance, or with the amount received?
    • Any other issue? Please describe:
Please describe this problem or dispute in detail.
  • When did this problem or dispute occur?
  • Where did it occur?
  • Who exactly was involved?
  • How did this problem or dispute start?
  • What occurred? Please provide details
  • Why do you think this problem or dispute occurred?
  • How long did it last and is it still ongoing?
What could have been done, if anything, to avoid this problem or dispute?
  • What do you think you could have done to avoid it?
  • What do you think others could have done to avoid it?
Have you experienced any other problems or disputes that were serious and not easy to fix?
  • Same probes
Please describe these problems or disputes in detail.
  • Same probes
What could have been done, if anything, to avoid these problems or disputes?
  • Same probes
If multiple problems or disputes have occurred: Are any of these problems or disputes connected?
  • If yes, how are they connected? How did one problem or dispute lead to or contribute to another problem or dispute?
How Individuals Tried to Resolve Their Problems or Disputes, and Outcomes of these Efforts
If you experienced more than one problem or dispute, I’d now like to focus on the most serious of these. Please answer the following questions with respect to the most serious of the problems or disputes you have been discussing:  
When you first became aware of your problem or dispute, how much did you know about where to get information and advice about resolving it?
  • Did you know a lot or not very much about where to get information and advice?
What or whom did you go to in order to obtain information and advice that might help you resolve your problem or dispute?
  • Did you go to…
    • Government websites?
    • Other online sources such as other websites, blogs, or online discussions?
    • Immigrant-serving agency?
    • Friends?
    • Family members or relatives?
    • Sponsors?
    • Local community and religious groups?
    • Other members of your immigrant community?
    • Your employer?
    • Other sources? Please specify
Was this information or advice useful?
  • Why or why not?
Did you follow this advice?
  • Why or why not?
Did you have any difficulties obtaining information and advice about resolving your problem or dispute?
  • If yes, what kind of difficulties were these?
    • Lack of knowledge of where to get help to resolve the problem or dispute?
    • Language difficulties?
    • Not enough time to find information or seek advice?
    • Fear of people finding out about your problem or dispute?
    • Other? Please specify.
Were you able to overcome these difficulties in obtaining information and advice?
  • If so, how did you do so?
What did you do to try to resolve your problem or dispute?
  • Did you first try to negotiate with the other person or people involved?
  • Did you undertake other specific actions or activities to try to resolve the problem or dispute?
  • How successful were these actions or activities?
  • Can you describe the approach that you found most useful?
  • Who helped you, if anyone, and what did they do?
  • How useful was this assistance?
  • [If no action taken]: Why did you not take any action to try to resolve the problem or dispute?
When you first became aware of your problem or dispute, to what extent did you think there might be legal implications?
  • Why did you think this was the case?
Did you seek legal assistance to resolve your problem or dispute?
  • What made you decide to seek (or not to seek) legal assistance?
  • What kind of legal assistance did you seek (e.g., lawyer, paralegal, or legal clinic)?
  • How did you try to find someone to provide legal assistance?
  • [If no legal help sought] Why did you decide not to seek legal assistance?
Did you have any difficulty obtaining legal assistance?
  • If so, what difficulty in obtaining legal assistance did you face
    • Lack of knowledge of where to find legal assistance?
    • Cost?
    • Time required to obtain legal assistance?
    • Difficulty accessing legal assistance?
    • Language difficulties?
    • Cultural barriers?
    • Other difficulties? Please specify
How useful was this legal assistance?
  • Did you find it to be very useful or not very useful? Why was this the case?
[If no legal help received] Why did you not receive legal help for your problem or dispute?
  • Did you not want legal help or was there some other reason?
How much of your problem or dispute did the legal professional you contacted help you with?
  • [If only had legal help for part of the problem] Why did you only get help for part of your problem or dispute?
Did you use any mediation, conciliation, or other alternative dispute resolution mechanism to resolve your problem or dispute?
  • Did your legal professional represent you throughout this process or only for part of it? Why was this the case?
Did you attend a court or tribunal because of your problem or dispute?
  • Did your legal professional represent you throughout this process or only for part of it? Why was this the case?
What is the current status of your problem or dispute?
  • How difficult has it been to resolve?
  • Is it now resolved?
  • If so, how was it resolved?
  • If so, do you think that the resolution was fair? Why or why not? Are you happy with the resolution? Why or why not?
  • If it has not been resolved, are you still working on trying to resolve it? How?
  • If it has not been resolved, would you say the problem is now better, worse, or about the same as when it first occurred? Why do you think this is the case? How is it better or worse?
If you had a neighbour dealing with a similar problem or dispute, what advice would you give them?
  • Why would you give this particular advice?
  • Looking back, what kind of assistance could have helped you to resolve the problem or dispute more quickly and more effectively?
Socio-Economic Consequences
What kinds of costs did you have due to this problem or dispute?
  • Approximately how much in total has it cost you to deal with the problem or dispute?
  • Please explain what these costs consisted of.
  • Did you lose any money or income because of this problem or dispute?
  • Please explain how much you lost and why.
  • Did you have legal costs? Please describe.
Did you have any financial challenges because of these costs?
  • For example, did you have to borrow money from friends or relatives or put expenses on your credit card?
  • Did you have to take out a loan?
Did your problem or dispute cause or contribute to you having problems at work or losing your job?
  • Please describe.
  • Why was this the case?
  • Did you have to…?
    • Apply for Employment Insurance?
    • Apply for a housing subsidy?
    • Apply for social assistance?
    • Make an insurance claim?
Did your problem or dispute cause or contribute to you losing your housing?
  • Please describe.
  • Why was this the case?
  • Where did you live after you lost your housing?
Did your problem or dispute cause or contribute to you losing friends or you experiencing conflict with family members?
  • Please describe.
  • Why was this the case?
  • How has this loss affected you?
Did your problem or dispute lead to any other social, family, or personal problems?
  • Please describe these problems.
  • Why was this the case?
  • How has this affected you?
Did your problem or dispute affect your ability to settle in Canada?
  • Please describe.
  • Why was this the case?
  • How has this affected you?
Health Consequences
Did your problem or dispute cause health problems?
  • Were these physical or mental health problems?
  • What kinds of physical or mental health problems? Please describe.
  • Did you experience excessive stress that has affected you?
  • Did you visit health care professionals, or use the health care system, more than before your problem or dispute?
Further Information
Is there anything we have not asked you about that you feel is important to share regarding your problem or dispute?  
Is there anything we have not asked you about that you would like to share about the types of serious problems or disputes that immigrants may face in Canada?