We need identification for many things, including accessing social services, renting an apartment, cashing a cheque, applying for a job. Without a permanent address however, it can be a real challenge to keep ID safe, and to replace lost or stolen ID. ID clinics therefore provide a critical service to homeless and marginally housed individuals — helping them obtain birth certificates, government ID cards and health cards.
Early in 2016, PBSC teamed up with our colleagues at Pro Bono Ontario and Blake, Cassels and Graydon LLP, and the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association to provide ID services twice a month at the Lawyer’s Feed the Hungry meal service in downtown Toronto. This pilot was a huge success! We are currently assisting about 15 clients per session to apply for basic identification documents and providing targeted legal referrals.
We shared this project model with the PBSC Program Coordinators from across the country at our annual conference in May. Several chapters were enthusiastic about this model and began exploring possible partnerships in their communities. We are delighted to report that PBSC is now running FOUR ID projects! In addition to the Toronto project (with students from University of Toronto and Osgoode), PBSC Ottawa Common is providing ID services at the Lawyer’s Feed the Hungry meal service at the Ottawa Mission, under the supervision of BLG lawyers. PBSC Western is providing ID services in collaboration with London Lawyer’s Feed the Hungry and the Housing Stability Bank. And in Kingston, PBSC is providing ID services at Martha’s Kitchen, a non-profit organization that provides low cost nutritious meals to those in need.
The rapid expansion of this project is a testament to the dedication of our Program Coordinators, student volunteers and wonderful partners. We hope to launch ID projects in more cities in 2017. Stay tuned for details!