Beginning in May 2024, Downtown Legal Services will be launching a new division to offer services around disability, health, and income security.
Worldwide, there is a strong correlation between disability, economic marginalization, and social exclusion. Disability compounds every other category of personal disadvantage, and there is vital work for the legal system in removing the barriers that prevent persons with disabilities from taking part fully in society.
This division will serve people who occupy the intersection of disability and poverty. This includes both people who identify as having an existing disability, and people who are marginalized in their dealings with the entities that govern health care, informed consent, future planning, and medical privacy.
The division will:
- Represent claimants seeking disability income before the Social Assistance Tribunal and contest the discontinuation or clawback of benefits.
- Represent low-income clients seeking compensation before the Human Rights Tribunal for disparate treatment.
- Advise low-income clients about health care consent, substitute decision-making, Powers of Attorney, and adult adoption.
- Advocate for systemic change to address inequities and barriers in the legal system for persons with disabilities, and, in particular, the disparities between low-income and high-income persons with disabilities around access to benefits, future planning, and other determinants of well-being.
- Develop toolkits for the use of practitioners and clinics around health and disability law.
- Deliver public legal education to empower marginalized groups, including people with disabilities, racialized people, and people with unconventional family structures, around future health planning.