An Analysis of Poverty Law Services in Canada

Appendix Two: Interview schedules

Legal aid interview questions

Interviews with legal aid representatives were conducted in two stages. The first stage was designed to assess what amount of data is available from each province. The second stage elicited further information on the respondents’ experiences with legal aid service delivery in the poverty law area. In the second stage, different questions were developed for provinces with and without poverty law legal aid coverage.

Phase One interview questions

  1. Do you have annual reports or other sources of statistical information that are available in hard copy?
    • Do you collect statistics on:
    • the total legal aid caseload?
    • the total poverty law caseload?
  2. Do poverty law caseload statistics include cases that are dealt with through:
    • referrals to staff lawyers?
    • referrals to private lawyers?
    • brief services?
  3. Do you collect information on the poverty law issue(s) (e.g., EI, CPP) addressed in cases involving:
    • referrals to staff lawyers?
    • referrals to private lawyers?
    • brief services?
  4. Do you collect statistics on the type of service provided in poverty law cases in legal aid offices, including:
    • referrals to a staff lawyer?
    • referrals to a private bar lawyer?
    • brief services?
    • other?
  5. Does the legal aid system in Newfoundland include any community legal clinics or other community law structures?
  6. If so, do you collect statistics on the activities of these clinics, including:
    • the number of lawyers referrals from clinics?
    • the type of poverty law issue in clinic referrals?
    • the number of brief services from clinics?
    • the type of poverty law issue in clinic brief services?
  7. Do you collect statistics on the cost of providing poverty law legal aid services, including:
    • court services?
    • brief services?
    • clinic services?
    • other?
  8. Do you collect statistics on the number of poverty law applications that are refused?
  9. Are you willing to send copies of the information that is available?
  10. How will you send this information?
    • mail?
    • e-mail?
    • fax?

Phase Two interview questions: Provinces with poverty law legal aid coverage

  1. What do you think is working well about the current system of delivering poverty law services? What isn’t working well?
  2. Can you identify any gaps in the delivery of poverty law services in your area?
  3. Are there any other organizations in your province that assist people with poverty law matters?
  4. If yes, we would like to send you a form on which you can list the names of these organizations, as well as any contact information you have for them.
  5. Do you have any other comments about the delivery of poverty law legal aid services in your province?

Phase Two interview questions: Provinces with no poverty law legal aid coverage

  1. Are there any other organizations in your province that assist people with poverty law matters?
  2. If yes, we would like to send you a form on which you can list the names of these organizations, as well as any contact information you have for them.
  3. In your opinion, how comprehensive is the range of poverty law services offered by community organizations in your province?
  4. What do you think is working well about the current system of delivering poverty law services? What isn’t working well?
  5. What is your sense of the principal gaps in the availability of poverty law services in your province?

Community organization interview questions

Community organization interview questions are divided into three sections: questions about organizational services, data collection questions, and questions about the delivery, availability, and need for poverty law services.

Questions about organizational services

  1. How long has your organization been in existence?
  2. How long has your organization been providing poverty law services?
  3. With which of the following poverty law issues do you provide assistance?
    • Employment Insurance
    • Canada Pension Plan (CPP)/Old Age Security (OAS)
    • Income assistance
    • Housing, landlord/tenant issues
    • Workers’ Compensation (WCB)
    • Debtor/Creditor issues (e.g., debt, bankruptcy)
    • Other
  4. What kinds of assistance do you provide on these issues?
    • Public legal education: workshops, educational activities, or the provision of self-help educational materials (e.g., pamphlets)
    • General advice and/or assistance: referral to another organization or to legal aid; provision of basic information
    • Legal advice and/or procedural assistance on a specific client case (e.g., filling out forms, accompanying a client to meetings)
    • Preparation of legal aid applications
    • Action as an advocate at tribunals and appeals (legal representation or lay advocacy - a non-lawyer staff person attending a hearing, tribunal with the client)
  5. Who provides assistance to clients on poverty law issues?
    • Lawyers on the staff of the organization
    • Paralegals or community legal workers
    • Other staff (e.g., advocates, counsellors)
    • Students, volunteers
    • Other
  6. Do you assist all persons who come to you, or are there some restrictions regarding who can receive assistance (e.g., according to sex, age)?
  7. Are your services targeted to certain groups (e.g., women, members of a particular ethnic or language group, recent immigrants, Aboriginal peoples, rural/isolated communities, single parents)?
  8. If your organization is unable to assist certain persons, do you refer these persons to other organizations? If so, which ones?
  9. What sources of funding does your organization receive for poverty law work?
  10. How long have you been receiving this funding?
  11. Would you characterize the funding you receive for poverty law work as stable or unstable?

Data collection questions

  1. Do you collect data on:
    • The number of people to whom you provide assistance on poverty law matters?
    • The types of issues with which these people require assistance?
    • The personal characteristics of your poverty law clients (e.g., sex, age, ethnicity, immigration status, language)?
    • The cost of the poverty law services you provide OR the amount of funding that goes to your poverty law services?
  2. If yes, we would like to send you some forms to complete, along with a cover letter with some instructions for completing them. We can send them to you by e-mail or mail.
  3. If no, is it possible for you to provide estimates in any of these four areas? If yes, we would like to send you some forms on which you can list these estimates. We can send them to you by e-mail or mail.

    Questions about the delivery, availability, and need for poverty law services

  4. In what ways do you work with formal legal aid structures in your area to provide poverty law services (e.g., refer people to legal aid, share education materials)?
  5. In what ways do you work with other community organizations in your area to provide poverty law services (e.g., referrals, joint initiatives, sharing of materials)?
  6. What do you think is working well about the current system of delivering poverty law services in your area? What isn’t working well?
  7. Can you identify any key gaps in the delivery of poverty law services in your area?
  8. What do you think is working well about the current system of delivering poverty law services in your province? What isn’t working well?
  9. Can you identify any gaps in the delivery of poverty law services in your province?
  10. Additional comments.
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