PBSC and the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB) have collaborated to provide unique student opportunities since 2006. HPARB is an independent adjudicative body in Ontario, conducting appeals, reviews and hearings regarding health services and health professionals in the 28 regulated health professions.
This year PBSC has three distinct HPARB projects. First, law students from University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall are developing headnotes for reviews pertaining to registration to practice as a health professional in Ontario. Volunteers from the University of Ottawa’s English-speaking section are developing an annotated “Health Professions Procedural Code” to provide access to relevant principles in key tribunal and court decisions. Finally, a new project piloted this year with students from the University of Ottawa French Common Law PBSC chapter is developing headnotes for complaint review decisions in both English and French — the Bilingual Access Project. Together, these projects aim to make jurisprudence and adjudication principles more accessible to both tribunal members and litigants.
Jawdat Saleh, a PBSC volunteer in his first year at the University of Ottawa French Common Law program, enthusiastically describes his experience with HPARB this year as invaluable:
“This opportunity is one that I will never take for granted. I was given the privilege to help a French minority population receive better access to justice in a field that is predominantly English. Furthermore, the networking and the learning that comes with this opportunity are not to be taken lightly. I have been very fortunate to work with passionate professionals and to learn a lot from them. … I am very thankful to HPARB for giving me this amazing opportunity and to the PBSC team at the University of Ottawa for matching me with this great project.”
The volunteers for the three projects are also able to participate as case clerks at Health Board hearings. Janice Vauthier, Chair of HPARB, notes that:
“Witnessing the dynamics of cases — often involving unrepresented parties — can serve as a long-term point of reference to inform law students of the challenges and approaches for creating effective, accessible forums where people can have their cases heard. Student clerking also serves to enhance positive aspects of the justice system – such as professionalism, currency, transparency and adjudicative quality in hearing settings.”
From the student’s perspective, the experience is both exciting and insightful.
“The clerking portion of the project is a very exciting opportunity for a first year student like myself. The Board sends us the hearing documents about one week before the hearing so that we may familiarize ourselves with the case. Sometimes, we are tasked with organizing the files, as they can be very lengthy, and highlighting the key elements of the case. This is helping me build a skill set that will be critical to my success as a future lawyer.”
With respect to the Bilingual Access Project, Ms Vauthier explains that this project impacts access to justice by “effectively conveying legal concepts from one language to another.” This goes beyond direct translation, instead providing summaries of key decisions designed expressly for the Francophone community. Vauthier adds that “in addition to improving access to the public proceedings, students have the opportunity to use the legal resources available in English and in French and develop an understanding and facility to practice law in a bilingual fashion and provide this essential service for the francophone community.”
These three unique PBSC/HPARB projects significantly improve access to justice for parties appearing before the Board and also support the Board itself with access to consistent information. The student volunteers are benefiting from a high impact experiential learning opportunity and cultivating a commitment to ongoing pro bono work.
What other tribunals could PBSC students work with? Contact us if you have ideas!