TORONTO, Nov. 20, 2014 /CNW/ - Marking the one-year anniversary of providing families with free legal services, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital welcomes The Honourable Madeleine Meilleur, Attorney General for Ontario. The event celebrates its medical-legal partnership between Pro Bono Law Ontario (PBLO) and Gowlings, ensuring that families have the legal support they need.
"Families of children and youth with disabilities are balancing very busy and complicated lives," says Sheila Jarvis, President and CEO of Holland Bloorview. "Often, they require legal advice to navigate issues that may arise as a result of lost time at work, applying to bring a loved one to Canada to help as a caregiver, or estate planning for the future. Through our medical-legal partnership we can connect our families directly to those who can help."
A PBLO lawyer is embedded in Holland Bloorview's Family Resource Centre and meets with families on-site (often at bedside) to provide legal advice. Families whose problems cannot be resolved through consultation are referred to Gowlings, which has agreed to provide representation on a pro bono basis.
"This is access to justice in action," says PBLO's Executive Director, Lynn Burns. "Together with Holland Bloorview and Gowlings, we can ensure that families can focus on what matters most – their children's health and well-being." Peter Lukasiewicz, Gowlings' Managing Partner, External, agrees. "Our lawyers consistently tell us that the cases they work on from Holland Bloorview are among their most rewarding on a personal and professional level."
The partnership has helped over a hundred families in its first year.
Attorney General Meilleur, who is also a registered nurse, has a unique perspective on this program's value. "The one-year anniversary of this innovative and collaborative program is an important milestone in our shared journey to improve access to justice. This unique partnership shows how we can achieve better justice, together."
During the event, the Atkinson Foundation awarded the Ruth Hindmarsh Atkinson Award to PBLO. The $50,000 purse will provide seed funding for PBLO's latest project at McMaster Children's Hospital. The project will mark the final step needed to ensure that legal services are available in every children's hospital across the province.
PBLO has been breaking down silos between medical and legal professionals since 2009, when it launched its first partnership with the Hospital for Sick Children. The model has been gaining ground quickly – PBLO has also formed partnerships with the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the Children's Hospital at London's Health Sciences Centre. By the end of this year, PBLO will have served more than 2,500 patients and their families.
About Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital (Holland Bloorview) is Canada's largest children's rehabilitation hospital focused on improving the lives of kids with disabilities. Holland Bloorview is a global leader in applied research, teaching and learning, and client and family centred care. We are a provincial resource transforming care for children with cerebral palsy, acquired brain injury including concussion, muscular dystrophy, amputation, epilepsy, spina bifida, arthritis, cleft-lip and palate, autism and other developmental disabilities. Our vision is to create a world of possibility for kids with disability. For more information please visit www.hollandbloorview.ca
Gowlings is a leading international law firm, with over 700 legal professionals serving clients in 10 offices across Canada and around the world. For over a century, Gowlings has provided pro bono legal services in communities across Canada to those who need them most. Gowlings was one of the first firms in Canada to adopt a PBLO-approved pro bono policy that counts time spent on pro bono matters as billable time.
PBLO is a charity founded in 2001 to bridge the gap between lawyers who want to donate their services and low-income Ontarians who cannot afford a lawyer and whose legal problems do not attract government funding. PBLO is funded in part by The Law Foundation of Ontario and The Law Society of Upper Canada. It is one of Canada's largest, privately funded free legal service providers. Last year PBLO served 14,792 clients who had nowhere else to turn. www.pblo.org
SOURCE: Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
For further information: Media Contacts: Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Jennifer Obeid, Manager of Communications and Public Affairs, 647-404-3198, firstname.lastname@example.org; PBLO, Lynn Burns, Executive Director, 416-977-4448 ext. 225, email@example.com; Gowlings, Laura Burling, 416-862-3531, firstname.lastname@example.org