The Legal Problems of Everyday Life - The Nature, Extent and Consequences of Justiciable Problems Experienced by Canadians

Chapter VIII: The Health Care and Social Consequences of Justiciable Problems (continued)

Adverse Lifestyle Consequences, Justiciable Problems Relating to Increased Drug and Alcohol Use

A much smaller number of respondents attributed increased drug and alcohol use to their having experienced a justiciable problem. Table 52 shows that two justiciable problems related to employment, workplace harassment and unfair dismissal from a job were the two problems most frequently mentioned as having this particular consequence.

Table 52: Justiciable Problems and Increased Alcohol and Drug Use
Problem Number Per Cent Cumulative Per Cent
Harassment in the workplace 22 14.2% --
Unfair Dismissal From a Job 13 8.4% 22.6%
Harassment by a Collection Agency 10 6.5% 29.1%
Personal Injury at Work 8 5.2% 34.3%
Health and Safety Issue at Work 7 4.5% 38.8%
Unfair Disciplinary Action in the Workplace 7 4.5% 43.3%
Personal Injury, Traffic 6 3.9% 47.2%
Personal Injury, Medical Care 6 3.9% 51.1%
All Other Problems 76 48.9% 100.0%

Being disabled and young were the two groups more likely than others to report increased drug or alcohol consumption as a consequence of their justiciable problems, although the effects were not particularly strong. The disabled were 1.5 times more likely than the non-disabled to report increased consumption of alcohol or drugs.[231] Young people under the age of 29 were 1.6 times more likely than older respondents to report increased consumption of drugs or alcohol.[232]

In the multiple regression model only age under 29 remained as a statistically predictor of increased drug and alcohol consumption independent of other variables.

Table 53: Predictors of Increased Drug and Alcohol Consumption as Consequences of Justiciable Problems
Increased Drug and Alcohol Consumption Estimate Chi-Square Probability Odds Ratio
Intercept - 3.8 43.2 .0001 --
Disabled 0.8 3.9 .05 2.3

R-Square for the Regression Equation = .07

Justiciable Problems and the Threat of Violence

Table 54 shows that threats of violence or actual violence were reported by 6.4 per cent of respondents as a consequence of experiencing justiciable problems.

Table 54: Justiciable Problems and Threats of Violence
Problem Number Per Cent Cumulative Per Cent
Harassment in the workplace 11 7.9% --
Separation 9 6.5% 14.4%
Consumer, Major Item 8 5.8% 20.2%
Divorce 8 5.8% 26.0%
Custody and Access 8 5.8% 31.8%
Unfair Disciplinary Action in the Workplace 7 5.0% 36.8%
Harassment by Collection Agency 5 3.6% 40.4%
Threat of Legal Action 5 3.6% 44.0%
Collecting Wages Owed 4 3.1% 47.1%
Workplace Health and Safety 4 3.1% 50.2%
All Other Problems 69 48.8% 100.0%

Having three or more children was the variable with the strongest relationship to fear of, or actual, violence against oneself or one's family. Respondents with three or more children were twice as likely as all others with children to report this consequence.[233] People on social assistance were 1.9 times more likely than all others to experience violence or the threat of violence as a consequence of some justiciable problem.[234] Younger people aged 29 and under[235], the unemployed[236] and people with incomes of less than $25,000 were all 1.6 times more likely than all others to say they had experienced violence or the threat of violence.[237] Refer to table 55.

In the binary logistic regression used to predict independent effects having three or more children and having a lower income remained in the model as statistically significant predictors of experiencing violence or the threat of violence.

Table 55: Predictors of Violence or the Threat of Violence as Consequences of Justiciable Problems
Violence or the Threat of Violence Estimate Chi-Square Probability Odds Ratio
Intercept - 1.9 16.9 .0001 --
Income Under $25,000 0.7 6.1 .01 2.1
Three or More Children 1.2 18.1 .0001 3.2

R-Square for the Regression Equation = .07

Justiciable Problems and Problems with Children

Justicable problems experienced by parents can affect their children in a variety of ways. Problems are not always confined to behaviour problems at home or at school. Table 56 shows the general types of problems experienced by children in response to the justiciable problems experienced by their parents. Most of the problems are related to behaviour in the home. Just over one third involve problems that manifest themselves in school. In about 11 per cent of problems for which the parent's justiciable problems impacted on their children involved conflict with the law and police contact.

Table 56: Types of Problems Experienced by Children
Type of Problem Number Percent
Problem at Home 94 35.3%
Problem at School 143 53.8%
Problems Involving Conflict With the Law 29 10.9%
Total 266 100.0%

Table 57 depicts that the problems that impacted negatively in the behaviour of children related mainly to family law problems. Relationship breakdown problems, including problems related to custody and access, separation, divorce and child support comprise 36.6 per cent of all problems mentioned. Perceived harassment at work or by a collection agency also have impacts on children.

Table 57: Justiciable Problems and Impacts on Children
Problem Number Per Cent Cumulative Per Cent
Custody and Access 15 12.2% --
Separation 14 11.4% 23.6%
Divorce 11 8.9% 32.5%
Suspension of Child from School 6 4.9% 37.4%
Harassment in the Workplace 6 4.9% 42.3%
Harassment by Collection Agency 5 4.1% 46.4%
Child Support 5 4.1% 44.0%
Powers of Attorney, Medical Care 5 4.1% 50.5%
All Other Problems 56 49.5% 100.0%

Having three or more children was strongly related to experiencing problems related to children as a consequence of justiciable problems (refer to table 58). People with three or more children were 2.9 times more likely to have problems related to children[238]. In addition, people on social assistance were almost twice, 1.9 times, more likely to have child-related problems.[239]

In the logistic regression only having three or more children exerted a statistically significant independent effect.

Table 58: Predictors of Child-related Problems as Consequences of Justiciable Problems
Child-Related Problems Estimate Chi-Square Probability Odds Ratio
Intercept - 2.6 22.3 .0001 --
Three or More Children 2.1 48.5 .0001 7.8

R-Square for the Regression Equation = .16

Justiciable Problems and Feelings of Safety and Security

Experiencing justiciable problems also compromises people's feelings of security and safety. Problems related to employment together make up almost 25 per cent of problems that undermine people's sense of security. If personal injury at work is added to harassment at work, unfair dismissal form a job and health and safety issues at work, this increases to nearly 30 per cent of all problems. Problems that result from things going wrong with the purchase of expensive consumer goods or with major renovations or repairs are also relatively prominent, as are separation and divorce.

Table 59: Justiciable Problems and General Feelings of Security and Safety
Problem Number Per Cent Cumulative Per Cent
Harassment in the Workplace 34 12.7% --
Unfair Dismissal from a Job 17 6.2% 18.9%
Workplace Health and Safety 16 5.8% 24.7%
Separation 12 4.3% 29.0%
Harassment by a Collection Agency 11 4.0% 33.0%
Personal Injury at Work 11 4.0% 37.0%
Consumer, large Purchase 10 3.6% 40.6%
Consumer, Major Repairs 9 3.3% 43.9%
Collecting Money Owed 9 3.3% 47.2%
Divorce 9 3.3% 50.5%
All Other Problems 137 49.5% 100.0%

A number of variables had relatively weak relationships with reporting the safety and security of the individual or family as a consequence of justiciable problems. Respondents who were disabled, on social assistance, under age 29, unemployed and a member of a visible minority group were all more likely to report fears of safety and security as a consequence of experiencing a justiciable problem.

The binary logistic regression indicates that being disabled and unemployed are the two variables that have a statistically significant and independent effect on feelings related to a lack of safety and security. Refer to table 60.

Table 60: Predictors of Fears for Personal or Family Safety and Security as Consequences of Justiciable Problems
Fears for Personal or Family Safety and Security Estimate Chi-Square Probability Odds Ratio
Intercept - 0.8 4.8 .03 --
Disabled 0.4 7.9 .005 1.6
Unemployed 0.6 4.6 .03 2.9

R-Square for the Regression Equation = .06

Overall, health and social consequences are more negatively affected by adverse problem outcomes. Among respondents with unresolved problems, 56.1 percent experienced one or more negative health or social consequences and 43.9 per cent did not, a 21.2 per cent difference. In comparison, among respondents with unresolved problems that became worse, 69.9 per cent experienced a negative or social consequence and 30.1 per cent did not, a much larger percentage difference of 40.3 per cent. This indicates that having an unresolved problem that became worse has a very strong effect on experiencing a negative health or social impact.[240]

Failing to obtain useful assistance with problems also is related to negative health and social impacts. For instance, there is virtually no difference in the percentage of respondents with and without negative health and social consequences among people who considered the advice they received to be very helpful. Among the people who were very satisfied with advice given, 50.8 per cent reported a negative health or social consequence and 49.2 pre cent did not, a small percentage difference of 1.6 per cent. Compare this with respondents who felt that the advice they received was not helpful at all. In this case, 72.7 per cent reported adverse health and social consequences compared with 27.3 per cent. The percentage difference of 45.4 per cent between respondents with and without negative health and social impacts indicates that receiving poor advice is strongly related to the adverse effects.[241]


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