This Infographic, prepared for us by The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice, provides a snapshot of factual and visual information on Rural and Remote Access to Justice.
We are working with Ryerson University to develop an interactive mapping system that will provide information about legal, health, transportation and social issues throughout Ontario. We will be able to look at local areas to determine some of the indicators of need. Currently the locations of community legal clinics, Legal Aid Ontario offices, and courthouses are mapped.
We are the “Rural and Remote Access to Justice Boldness Project.” Leaders. We are working on changing the experience of law and justice for people in rural and remote communities by creating an inclusive justice approach to the work we do and the work that our community does for people who have lived experience with poverty.
These are big, important words. Access to Justice. It is an critical concept, one that is widely embraced in Ontario and in Canada.
For us, who live and work in rural and remote parts of Ontario, “Access to Justice” can look and feel different from the experience of urban Ontarians. We know this to be true from our daily lives, from the stories of our neighbours, our friends, our clients. We want to change that. We want to help our neighbours, friends and family. To change that experience in rural and remote locations, we first need to define and understand what is unique about the challenges faced in rural and remote Ontario.
A partnership with the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice http://www.cfcj-fcjc.org was the route we took to try to define this experience, to understand the difference, to respond to the challenge. The Forum produced Rural and Remote Access to Justice, A Literature Review. That Review looks at the meaning of rural and remote, at access to justice challenges in rural and remote communities, what the research to date tells us about the differences between rural and urban communities, and how others around the world have faced these issues.
Five areas of opportunity were identified by the Forum, five challenges for improving the experience of justice for rural and remote Ontarians:
1. Improving the professional presence of lawyers, paralegals, or personnel trained to assess, identify and refer legal problems.
2. Enhancing collaborative and inter-professional service provision and building relationships with trusted intermediaries.
3. Designing programs that harness communication technologies as a means of overcoming distance barriers.
4. Improving legal information and promoting legal awareness.
5. Developing coordinated national strategies that seek to address rural and remote issues at a systems level.
The work of the Rural and Remote Access to Justice Boldness Project has taken up the challenges, combining our personal experience with the framework of the Review. We invite you to learn from the Review, and take action with us.
“Just in Time” research is a process innovation developed in partnership with The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice. As we move ideas into next iterations and prototypes, we need to identify current trends, promising practices and key insights to inform the ideas development. Through rapid research approaches, we generate short but key information to advance our work.