This Continuing Education Certificate Program is designed to enhance the learner’s existing skills and knowledge with practical, how-to instruction on how to best navigate the many social programs and other regularly-encountered issues of everyday life that often impact those who are marginalized and/or live in poverty in our community. The Program provides training in advocacy techniques, and reviews of current legislation, relevant procedures, bureaucratic systems, appeal tribunals, and other topics necessary to a hands-on understanding of the course subject matter.

The Community Law School (Sarnia-Lambton) Inc. (CLS), a nonprofit, charitable public legal education organization, designs and delivers the instruction for this Certificate Program in partnership with the Lambton College Continuing Education Department.
 
The Instructors are Margaret Capes, B.A. (Hons.), LL.B., M.Ad.Ed. (live and online) and Kathryn M.Bullon, B.Sc., J.D., M.Ad.Ed. (online).

 

Course Listing:
CACP 1000     Community Advocacy Techniques* (10 hours)
CACP 1010     Ontario Works Act (10 hours)
CACP 1020     Ontario Disability Support Program Act (10 hours)
CACP 1030     Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits (10 hours)
CACP 1040     Residential Tenancies Act - Part 1 (10 hours)
CACP 1050     Residential Tenancies Act - Part II (10 hours)
CACP 1060     Human Rights in Ontario (10 hours)
CACP 1070     Employment Insurance Act (10 hours)
CACP 1080     Victims' Rights Laws (10 hours)
CACP 1090     Employment Standards Act (10 hours)
CACP 1101     Consumer Protection Laws, Part I (10 hours)
CACP 1111     Consumer Protection Laws, Part II (10 hours) 
CACP 1121     Small Claims Court, Part I (10 hours) 
CACP 1131     Small Claims Court, Part II (10 hours) 
 
Live classes (held at Lambton College) are available occasionally. Online classes are available each Fall and Winter semester. Each online course is one month in length, and all courses are offered on a rotating schedule each semester. Participants interested in earning the Certificate in Community Advocacy are required to take a minimum of seven different courses covering a mix of topics and legislation of their choice PLUS the Community Advocacy Techniques course . Participants can earn an Advanced Certificate upon completion of four additional courses offered in the Certificate Program. Participants with interest in a particular course are welcome to attend without committing to the full Certificate Program. Please contact the Lambton College Continuing Education program for information about registration, costs, and the courses being offered each month.

*Community Advocacy Techniques (CACP 1000) is a required course for the Certificate Program.

 

 

INDIVIDUAL COURSE DESCRIPTIONS
 
COMMUNITY ADVOCACY TECHNIQUES
In this course, learners are provided with tools to make their advocacy efforts more effective. We look at poor and marginalized persons who are most in need of advocacy. We explore informal networking, establishing contacts at government offices, identifying valuable resources, and the power of persistence as important tools for advocates. Practical tips for improving these skills are offered. This is the only mandatory course for those working toward the Certificate in Community Advocacy.
 
ONTARIO WORKS ACT
This course provides a comprehensive review of the Ontario Works Act, including the application process, financial assessments, and employment supports. We review the benefits available to successful OW applicants, and the right to appeal decisions of the OW staff (with a particular focus on internal reviews). Finally, we take a critical look at the role of the community advocate in these cases and share advocacy practice tips.
 
ONTARIO DISABILITY SUPPORT PROGRAM ACT
This course looks at the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, an income-tested maintenance program available to persons deemed by the province to be disabled. Topics include the application process, determining medical and financial eligibility, and the benefits available to successful applicants. We also review the right to appeal adverse decisions. We work through case studies, and discuss the role of the community advocate in assisting persons with ODSP issues.
 
CANADA PENSION PLAN DISABILITY BENEFITS
This course focuses on the Canada Pension Plan federal disability benefit program. We provide an overview of the program, and review the specific qualifications and application forms for disability benefits. We review the types of evidence required to support an application for benefits under the program, as well as avenues for appealing adverse decisions of CPP staff.
 
RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES ACT - PARTS I and II
The Residential Tenancies Act regulates the relationship between residential landlords and tenants. In these courses, we consider what is covered by the Act, breaking a lease, evictions, privacy issues, repairs and maintenance, rules relating to rent, and proceedings before the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board. There are numerous ways that a community advocate can assist someone with tenancy problems and these courses emphasizes how and when their intervention can be most effective.
 
HUMAN RIGHTS IN ONTARIO
In this course learners are introduced to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code. We review the coverage of each, and their areas of protection and grounds of discrimination. Using case studies, we learn about the role of the Canadian and Ontario Human Rights Commissions and the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, study everyday instances of discrimination, and see how they are dealt with under each law. Throughout the course, we identify and explore the important role of the community advocate in human rights cases.
 
EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT
The Employment Insurance Act is a federal law that provides sickness, parental, maternity, regular, and compassionate care leave benefits to those who have adequately contributed to the program and otherwise meet the qualifications for each type of benefit. These qualification requirements can be complex and many applicants need guidance as they apply for and maintain their right to benefits. As a result, there are many opportunities for community advocates to assist in these cases. 
 
VICTIMS’ RIGHTS LAWS
Victims of crime have rights within the justice system and  this course provides an overview of the major laws in Ontario dealing with these rights. The primary focus of the course is the Criminal Injuries Compensation program, under which crime victims may apply for financial compensation and have their claim assessed by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. We look at  the application process, the types of evidence required, and proceedings before the Board. In addition, we look at the Victims’ Bill of Rights, and enforcement of restitution orders obtained by victims in criminal courts. Through case studies, we discuss the ways community advocates can assist victims of crime.
 
EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS ACT
For most employees who work in a nonunion setting, legal protections governing the basic terms of their employment are found in the provincial Employment Standards Act. This law sets minimum protections regarding wages, overtime pay and hours, and vacation time, among other matters. The Ministry of Labour is responsible for enforcing this law. In this course, we review the coverage of the Act, its areas of protection, and how to file a claim with the Ministry.
 
CONSUMER PROTECTION LAWS, PARTS I and II
These two courses review consumer protection issues and the laws that protect consumers.  In Part I, we focus on consumer protection laws aimed at collection agencies, credit reporting agencies, itinerant salespersons, and unfair business practices, such as the Collection Agencies Act, the Consumer Reporting Act, and the Consumer Protection Act. In Part II, we focus on energy rebillers, cell phone contracts, consumer fraud (internet, telephone, and mail), payday loans, private career colleges, and other timely topics. We review the protections afforded by the Ontario Energy Board Act, the Payday Loans Act, and other consumer protection laws. Knowing how to recognize fraudulent and unfair business practices, and knowing which laws protect against these unscrupulous activities, can greatly enhance the power of community advocates to support overwhelmed consumers. 
 
SMALL CLAIMS COURT, PARTS I and II
These courses walk consumers and advocates through a Small Claims Court action. We learn where to find extensive online resources that explain and assist with the Small Claims Court process. We look at every step, from issuing a demand letter before filing a claim, to obtaining a Small Claims Court judgment. Part I introduces students to the Small Claims Court, identifying parties, demand letters, the Plaintiff’s Claim, costs associated with Small Claims Court filings, the Defence, negotiating a settlement, and other pre-trial matters. Part II focuses on preparing a case for trial, dealing with default judgments, the trial process, and enforcing a judgment.  With the filing limit increased to $25,000 as of January, 2010, more and more people will be turning to Small Claims Court to resolve disputes. These courses are a primer for anyone who is or may become involved in such proceedings