Serious Problems Experienced by Diverse People with Disabilities: Western Canada

Appendix 2: Focus Group Discussion Guide Guide

Serious Problems: People with Disabilities, Western Canada

Researcher, Doris Rajan

Consent Process

Thank you for agreeing to participate. I am a researcher who has been engaged by Justice Canada to conduct a small qualitative study on serious problems experienced by people with disabilities in the western region of Canada. This research is being carried out to complement the national Canadian Legal Problems Survey. In this focus group I will be asking questions about:
  1. The types of serious problems that you may have experienced in the last three years;
  2. The ways you have attempted to resolve those problems; and
  3. The outcome and effect of these experiences.
The information you share today is completely confidential, and I will not associate your name with anything you say in this interview. I would like to tape this interview so that I can make sure to capture the thoughts, opinions, and ideas that you share today. The information will be used exclusively to inform this research. You may refuse to answer any question or withdraw from the study at any time and you will still receive your honorarium. If you have any questions now, during or after this interview please feel free to contact me.

Explanation of the process

This focus group will last for a maximum of two hours. There are no wrong or right answers. I am here to learn from you. Any questions? Here we go!

(Turn on recording device)


Brief Introduction


  1. What was the serious problem or interaction with the legal or other systems that you experienced in the last three years?
  2. (If there is more than one problem, go to Question 2).

    1. Purchases or services
    2. Probes
      • a large purchase for which you did not receive what you paid for (e.g., home, car, truck, motorcycle, ATV, snowmobile, or major appliances);
      • major repairs or renovations for which you did not receive what you paid for
        • (e.g., home renovations, repairs done to your car, truck, motorcycle, ATV, snowmobile, or major appliances);
      • not getting what you paid for in a service (e.g., a moving company, a health club membership, a vacation package or having your taxes prepared);
      • a safety concern with something you bought;
      • an insurance claim;
      • a bill or invoice that was incorrect;
      • not getting a refund.
    3. Work-related problem
    4. Probes
      • not being paid your wages, not being paid for working overtime, not getting vacation pay, severance pay, or other wages that you believe were owed to you;
      • being fired or dismissed from a job;
      • being refused child-related leave (e.g., maternity or parental leave), sick leave, or other rights that were part of agreed conditions of work;
      • a safety issue at your job or workplace;
      • being subject to disciplinary procedures at work.
    5. Financial – bank or collection agency
    6. Probes
      • personal bankruptcy;
      • a collection agency contacting you repeatedly to get you to pay an outstanding bill or debt;
      • the refusal of credit because of inaccurate information;
      • a bank or credit union contacting you repeatedly to get you to pay an incorrect charge;
      • an electricity, gas, or cable company, or any other utility contacting you repeatedly to get you to pay an incorrect charge;
      • a threat of legal action from an individual, a company, or a government agency to collect debt;
      • misleading or incorrect information that led you to buy insurance, pensions, mortgages, or other financial products;
      • collecting money owed to you (Exclude rent or any housing-related money owed)
        • (e.g., a loan to a friend or family member).
    7. Family related – child custody, domestic violence
    8. Probes
      • the division of money or property following a family breakdown;
      • collecting spousal support that you were awarded by the court;
      • applying for, enforcing, or making changes to a spousal support order;
      • obtaining or enforcing a restraining or civil protection order in the case of a couple or family breakdown;
      • applying for, making changes to, or enforcing child support;
      • child custody or access arrangements;
      • becoming the guardian of a child who is not your own;
      • any of your children, or a child under your care, being taken away by a family services agency;
      • a child abduction or threat of abduction.
    9. Discrimination
    10. Probes
      • Where did you experience harassment (e.g., school, in a store, at work, when dealing with the police?)
      • Was the harassment based on any of the following grounds (e.g., race, colour, ethnicity; Indigenous identity; religion; age; sex, gender identity or expression; sexual orientation; marital status; family status; a physical or mental disability; language, etc.?)
      • Please indicate the nature of the harassment you experienced (e.g., aggressive behaviour, offensive remark, sexual comment, or gesture, etc.).
  3. Do you think any of your serious problems were connected to one another?
  4. Probes

    Which of the problems may have caused or contributed to the other problems that you experienced?

  5. What did you do to try and solve this problem?
  6. Probes
    • Did you attend court?
    • Were you aware of supports and resources that were available to you?
    • If you didn’t take action, why not?
    • If you did receive legal advice, who from?
    • If you did not receive advice from a legal professional, why not?
    • Informal resolutions (i.e., internet searches, reached out to friends/family, connected with the other party involved in the dispute, contacted an advocacy or social service agency)
    • What approaches did you find helpful?
    • What approaches did you find unhelpful?
  7. What was the outcome?
  8. Probes
    • What happened?
    • How much did legal professionals help?
    • What is the current status of the problem?
    • Were there any costs associated with the problem?
  9. What has been the effect of these problems on your life?
  10. Probes
    • On your mental/emotional health?
    • On your physical health?
    • Financially?
    • In your relationships?
  11. Is there anything else you would like to add?

That concludes this focus group. With your permission I will be following up with to answer some questions about how you identify in terms of your race, disability etc.. This is completely voluntary and, again, all information is confidential and will not be attached to your name.

Thank you so much for coming and sharing your thoughts and opinions with me. If you have additional information that you did not get to say in the focus group, please feel free to contact me and we can arrange a time to speak further.

Socio-Demographic Information

  1. What is your gender?
    • Male
    • Female
    • Another gender
  2. What is your age?
    • 18–24 years old
    • 25–34 years old
    • 35–44 years old
    • 45–54 years old
    • 55–64 years old
    • 65 years or over
  3. Do you identify as Indigenous?
    • First Nations
    • Métis
    • Inuk
  4. What type(s) of disability do you identify with?
  5. Citizenship Status
    • Born in Canada
    • Born outside Canada (please specify country)
    • Canadian citizen
    • Landed immigrant
    • Permanent resident
  6. Do you identify as:
    • White
    • South Asian (e.g., East Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan)
    • Chinese
    • Black and/or African
    • Filipino
    • Arab
    • Latin American
    • Southeast Asian (e.g., Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, Thai)
    • West Asian (e.g., Iranian, Afghan)
    • Korean
    • Japanese
    • Other (please specify)
  7. What is the highest certificate, diploma, or degree that you have completed?
  8. Are you employed?
    • Yes
    • No