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07 Feb, Tuesday
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Montreal Families

Every wonder about your legal rights?

We never know what curveballs life is going to throw at us and questions about legal issues can crop up very unexpectedly. For example, Julie (not her real name) has an elderly mother who is becoming increasingly confused and can no longer live on her own. Can Julie take control of her mother’s finances? Will she be able to break her mother’s apartment lease to move her into a residence? What happens if her mother hasn’t made a will?  It’s no surprise that Julie feels like she needs a crash course in Quebec law.

Enter Éducaloi, a non-profit organization created more than 10 years ago after a government report stated that Quebecers needed a better understanding of the legal system in order to exercise their rights.

Its mandate is to provide easy-to-understand legal information through a bilingual website that is a virtual treasure trove for anyone facing a legal issue. Wondering what your rights are as a tenant? Need to know what happens when you file for divorce?  Answers can all be found on the easy-to-navigate site. (However, the organization does not take phone calls about legal issues nor does it offer advice on particular legal problems.) There are also plenty of resources for parents. You can learn about the rules on adoption, the responsibility of parents for children under 18, what happens when unmarried couples with children separate and how the child welfare system works.

“Providing information tailored to the needs of the English-speaking minority is an important part of our mission,” says Sarah Dougherty, the organization’s content manager who provides services and outreach to the English community.

Dougherty adds that Éducaloi also helps inform young people of their rights and responsibilities through its “Youth Zone” section on the website. Children and teens can read about the minimum age for making certain decisions (such as getting a tattoo) and rules governing youth employment (tips, overtime, breaks, etc.). The site also has material for teachers that can be downloaded and used in class to discuss the legal system.

Éducaloi receives its ongoing funding from the Quebec Bar Association (the organization that oversees lawyers in the province), the Quebec association of notaries, the Société québécoise d’information juridique and provincial and federal justice departments. It also has a consulting service to help organizations simplify their legal documents. For example, Éducaloi is working with Quebec automobile insurers to simplify standard insurance policies. It also teamed up with the Quebec Small Claims Court to create online forms for the public.

The legal system affects so much of what we do but it can be hard to find clear, simplified information about our rights and responsibilities. On the Éducaloi website, visitors will find the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about anything from a loved one’s care to preparing a will.

To learn more, go to www.educaloi.qc.ca.

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