On Friday November 23rd, we were the presenting sponsor and also helped to host the first ever Feast for the Foundation. The event was held at Georgian College in Owen Sound to benefit the Owen Sound Regional Hospital Foundation and designated to support mental health. This sold out event was a new concept and fundraising event and we were blown-away by the support from the community.
Guests enjoyed a fabulous array of dishes prepared by the students of the Georgian College Culinary Management program. Food was donated from many local food producers including CedarCrest Trout Farm, Dejong Acres and Good Family Farms. Local libations were donated from MacLean’s Ales, Neustadt Springs Brewery, Beaver Valley Cidery and Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery. Bruce Power also came on board to sponsor this event. Guests bid on many amazing super silent auction items ranging from vacation homes in Florida and France, signed Owen Sound Attack jerseys, hockey sticks and tickets, beautiful artwork and great seats to see the Toronto Maple Leafs, Raptors and Blue Jays play.
We have to thank all of our sponsors, auction donors, guests and other dedicated community members who came together to raise funds for the hospital and more specifically mental health.
It touches our hearts just how supportive and generous people in this community are. With your help, you truly are helping us make a difference!
In a split second, Jake went from being a fit and motivated military reservist and college student to not knowing if he’d ever walk again. The car in which Jake was a backseat passenger lost control and flipped into a ditch. His whole future was flipped upside down by this car accident, too. Watch Jake’s video to see how he has bounced back and how his lawyer, Matt Dale, helped along the way.
Watch this client share their Lerners experience
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As a graduation gift to myself after completing 4 years of university, I decided to book a 2-week long trip with a well-known travel company. Three days into the trip, I was sexually assaulted and raped by the company’s tour guide—someone I was supposed to be able to trust. The company’s response after it was told what had happened was awful and added insult to injury.
When I was forced to return home early to Canada a few days later, the reality of what had happened to me struck me. All I had ever dreamt of in high school and university was travelling and seeing the world. My dreams had been shattered by what happened that terrible night and the days following. I knew I would never feel confident enough to travel on my own again, especially in a foreign country. I quickly sunk into a depression, and was eventually diagnosed with PTSD, major depressive disorder, and anxiety. I felt powerless and didn’t know where to turn.
A friend of the family had recommended me to Lerners, and I’m so happy I called. Although the litigation process was emotionally and mentally exhausting, and there were many times that I wanted to quit, retaining Elizabeth Grace was the best thing I could have done for myself. She showed a genuine concern for my injuries and the impact the assaults had on all aspects of my life, from my personal relationships to the impact on my work. She and the rest of the staff at Lerners always kept me informed on the progress of my case, and were there to listen to my concerns and answer any questions whenever they came up. I am thankful to Ms. Grace and her staff for their diligence, hard work and persistence.
While I will never be the same because of the traumatic and preventable experiences I suffered, after many years of protracted and difficult litigation, I can now receive the proper psychological treatment I need to move forward with my life and live the best life possible, not only for me but my family. I am forever grateful and would recommend Elizabeth Grace to anybody who has suffered as a result of being sexually assaulted.
Lerners is proud to have been a Gold Sponsor of the 2018 Toronto ABI (Acquired Brain Injury) Network Conference on November 15 and 16, 2018. Over the conference’s two full days, many sessions and speakers enabled the conference’s moto of “connecting, learning, and inspiring” to become a reality. A spectrum of individuals attended the conference, including myriad therapists, doctors, lawyers, and individuals who have experienced a brain injury.
On a cold snowy Friday afternoon, the Grand Ballroom was packed with eager listeners for the keynote address. Kellylee Evans, a Juno Award-winning Canadian jazz soul singer/songwriter and motivational speaker, was treating the audience to her amazingly warm voice and providing sage life lessons. Ms. Evans has also suffered a brain injury as a result of being struck by lightning and several car accidents. Ms. Evans’ talk was aptly named “Finding Your Super Powers – A Journey to Recovery from Brain Injury”. She considers herself to have super powers.
She shared with the eager audience her three super powers:
As a “Super Liver”, she understands that life is short and makes the most out of it. As a “Super Listener”, she shared how she learned to truly listen to her inner voice. Last but not least, as a “Super Lover”, she taught the audience the importance of self-care and self-love. Ms. Evans also shared what therapies and activities she engaged in to help her recover from her brain injury. Her talk was punctuated with a standing ovation, as the entire audience witnessed a real super woman.
Indeed, the 2018 Toronto ABI Network Conference was no ordinary conference – it was truly a super conference.
If you have been harassed, because of your sex or another element of your identity, you may wish to apply to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) for compensation and/or non-monetary relief. Here, I highlight some practical considerations if you are thinking about seeking recourse through the HRTO.
What is harassment?
Harassment is defined in the Ontario Human Rights Code. In everyday terms, it refers to unwelcome comments or conduct from another individual, which includes unwanted touching, where the harasser either knows or should know that the comments or conduct are not welcome.
Does the HRTO deal with harassment wherever it happens?
No. The HRTO only has jurisdiction to deal with harassment in certain areas, including in accommodation settings (eg. landlord relationships), the workplace, professional or trade related associations, and in the context of services, goods and facilities (eg. stores, restaurants, schools). These examples are only some of the areas over which the HRTO has jurisdiction. If you have been harassed and are considering applying to the HRTO, contact a lawyer to determine if the HRTO has jurisdiction to consider your case.
What kind of power does the HRTO have?
The HRTO can order financial compensation for applicants. The financial award is meant to compensate an applicant for injury to their dignity, feelings, and/or self-respect. The HRTO will consider both the seriousness of the conduct (i.e. where it falls on the spectrum of minor to severe) and the subjective effect it had on the applicant (i.e. independent of its seriousness, how did it impact the applicant directly).
The HRTO also has broad powers to make decisions in the interest of justice. The HRTO can require responding parties (such as an employer, company, restaurant, etc.) to take a specified course of action to comply with the Human Rights Code. For example, the HRTO may require a respondent to create anti-harassment policies or require its employees to undergo anti-harassment training. If you commence an application to the HRTO, spend time considering whether you want the HRTO to make a non-financial decision in an attempt to decrease the likelihood of ongoing Human Rights Code breaches.
What should be included in an application?
In your application, you need to clearly set out the effect the harassment had on you. Consider how it injured your feelings and the way you behave. Has it made you feel victimized, and, if so, how? Has it impacted your relationships with your partner, family, friends and strangers? Do you look at yourself differently since the harassment? If so, in what ways? These are important questions to consider when you prepare your application.
What is the deadline to make an application?
Under the Human Rights Code, you must make your application to the HRTO within one year after the harassment. Often, incidences of harassment are not a single act, but rather a pattern of ongoing conduct. Where that is the case, you must submit your application to the HRTO within one year after the last incident in the series took place. Whether you have experienced a single act or a pattern of conduct is something a lawyer can help you determine.
The one-year time limit is not written in stone. If you miss the one year mark, you may still be able to start an application. However, you must satisfy the HRTO that the delay was made in good faith and that there will not be any substantial prejudice to any person affected by your application. You should not rely on the apparent flexibility of this provision. If you believe you have been harassed, it is good practice to make a note of the date(s) of the harassment and especially when it stopped for whatever reason. Start thinking about whether you want to start an application or take other legal steps immediately. Well before the one year anniversary of the harassment, decide if you will submit an application to the HRTO.
Does the HRTO have the authority to award legal costs?
The HRTO does not have the power to award legal costs. What this means is that if you decide to hire a private lawyer to assist you with your application (rather than receiving assistance from a lawyer with the Human Rights Legal Support Centre) and you are successful, the HRTO cannot order the responding parties (typically the employer and harasser) to reimburse you for your lawyer’s legal costs.
It also means that if the responding party is represented by a lawyer and you are unsuccessful in your application, you will not be required to pay for the respondent’s legal costs.
This is different from a lawsuit in court, where, generally speaking, the ‘winning’ party is entitled to some of its legal costs.
There are advantages and disadvantages to the HRTO’s process as a result of this. For example, a responding party may be more willing to engage in settlement discussions before incurring significant legal costs if it knows that it will not be able to recover its legal costs. One disadvantage is that if you proceed with your application and are successful, you may not only have to pay your lawyer’s bill as you go through the application process, but may also have to use some of the compensation you are awarded to pay your legal bills.
What are the HRTO’s geographical limitations?
Because the HRTO is created by Ontario’s Human Rights Code, it is generally confined to Ontario’s borders. However, where violations of the Human Rights Code occur outside of Ontario but are substantially tied to Ontario, the HRTO may have jurisdiction to consider the application.
For example, suppose you have an Ontario-based job for an Ontario-based company and you are occasionally required, pursuant to your employment contract, to travel with your employer elsewhere in Canada and the United States. If you are harassed by your employer during one of those business trips, the HRTO will likely consider your application, since the harassment has a sufficient connection to Ontario. If you have been harassed outside of Ontario, consult a lawyer to determine the likelihood that the HRTO has jurisdiction to consider your case.
Can I go to the courts instead or as well as going to the HRTO?
Yes. Courts in Ontario can make the same orders as the HRTO. If you have been harassed and are entitled to bring an application to the HRTO under the Human Rights Code, and you also want to sue the person or entity for something that cannot be addressed before the HRTO, you are entitled to join the two claims together in a court proceeding. This means you may not be required to start two separate applications relating to the same facts. Speak with a lawyer to determine if this issue applies to your case.
I hope this article provides some useful information about applying to the HRTO. I encourage you to contact a lawyer if you are considering commencing an application.
The United Way helps to fund supports in communities across Canada in a wide range of areas which includes child and youth programs, poverty reduction strategies, mental health supports, and return to employment initiatives. That is why Lerners is proud to participate in the friendly “Lawyers Leadership Challenge” against a number of other local law firms. Which firm this year will help to achieve the biggest impact in our community? Will it be Lerners? Can Lerners repeat as a recipient of the Spirit Award?
On November 1, the 2018 challenge kicked off at the RCMP headquarters in London, hosted by RCMP Inpector Andrew Cowan. Lerners was represented at the kickoff event by Joe Masterson, Jacob Damstra, Hilary Leitch, Katharine Creighton, and Andrew Murray. Over the next two and half weeks, Lerners will try to secure more pledges than the other London firms participating in the challenge. There can be no losers in this challenge, but there is one big winner – our community – which benefits so greatly from the United Way funded supports and opportunities.
We heard a compelling and very personal tale from one member of our community who has benefitted directly from United Way. Nate Jamieson, who found himself in the unfortunate situation of being a young man with no education, no training, and no employment, spoke to the group about the journey he took from being an unemployed grade nine drop out from a challenging home environment to being a high school graduate, now employed full time at McCormicks, and a caring father of four. His message was personal. His message was powerful. His message was a tale of redemption, only made possible through the opportunities presented because of the United Way.
Special thanks to two sponsors who came through with attractive raffle prizes – Ace Hill Beer and 3M Canada. Their charitable leadership is something to be emulated by other organizations