Waterloo Region Community Legal Services (WRCLS) is non-profit community legal aid clinic that provides free legal services to low-income people in Waterloo Region.   

WRCLS provides legal services related to housing law, income assistance, Immigration, employment, and consumer debt.  

“[For a client], our services might include providing them with advice about their legal problem, helping them to draft documents if they’re involved in tribunal or court processes or providing them with full representation at those tribunal hearings that they’re involved in or, at times, court,” Shannon Down, executive director at WRCLS, said.  

The organization was started in 1980 as a grassroots effort by lawyers and community members to fill a gap in legal services available for low-income people in areas other than family and criminal law. Now, they are funded by Legal Aid Ontario.   

WRCLS is supporting is the Victoria St./Weber St. W. encampment residents.  

For example, they help residents with putting their documents together for services like Ontario disability benefits and identification documents.   

“When the date for [their] eviction came and there were still people living at the encampment,” Down said. 

“We reached out to people at the encampment to see if they wanted us to represent them and not all did. So, we represented approximately 16 people at the court,” she said.   

WRCLS also provides events where people in the community can receive legal education and support. They provide walk-in legal clinics and information sessions on different topics. Earlier in May, WRCLS hosted a virtual drop-in housing legal session, a sessions on wills and power of attorney and a mobile legal clinic.  

The mobile clinics also help to build visibility.  

“The legal clinic system is a really critical component of access to justice,” Down said.”We’re really grateful that we are able to do this work because the people that walk through our door often don’t have many other options in terms of getting legal advice and legal services,” she said.   

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