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Alberta

What the World Needs Now is More Pro Bono

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5 minute read

July 14, 2020

What the World Needs Now is More Pro Bono

Lawyers and the legal community use their performance skills to bring awareness and raise funds to support access to justice for our vulnerable population during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association (ACTLA) is staging a virtual Public Awareness Campaign partnered with United Way.  Major supporters include the Canadian Bar Association – Alberta Branch and the Legal Archives Society of Alberta.  The show is called Laywers Vs Talent: A2J – Virtual Edition. Here’s a link to the lineup.  You can watch by simply making a donation.  The United Way is helping out so it’s a very secure and safe procedure.  Click here to get your exclusive link.  (You will receive an email with the link prior to showtime.)

COVID-19 caused cancellation of fundraising events (e.g. Battle of the Bar Bands-Calgary) within the profession where proceeds went to Pro Bono legal advice clinics.  The Alberta Bar decided to innovate and create the virtual event for this Thursday, July 16th, from 6:00 PM to 8 PM (MDT) to raise a “behind the scenes” Awareness.  Due to the Pandemic, Pro Bono clinics require technology for remote meetings or remote court attendance or require supplies for their clients such as masks and shields to attend meetings or attend court if people are forced by subpoena or otherwise need to attend.

Donna Purcell, member of the ACTLA COVID-19 Emergency Response Team said “We were going to call our event ‘lawyers got talent’ but one lawyer objected saying Simon Cowell would complain.  Well what about ‘lawyers got no talent’? No, he might still complain, maybe try Lawyers vs Talent” and the seed was sown to invite professional talent, with entertainers from the United States, Mexico, Europe, Asia and South America under the Global A2J Alliance banner.  The campaign is meant to highlight the need for everyone to protect the Rule of Law for vulnerable populations.

Forecasts for Alberta include 25% unemployment.  The profession is concerned about providing Pro Bono services given the anticipated domestic situations, personal bankruptcies, foreclosures and evictions flooding antiquated justice systems.

“The legal profession and our judiciary have decided to lead the way in ensuring innovative access to justice for our growing vulnerable populations and all Albertans”, notes Purcell, “And we can’t only work for free, that is called being unemployed.  And no lawyer jokes please, we might not get them.  Grab a Shaq-a-roni, set up a Zoom after party, and come enjoy the entertainment, including some pros who know what they are doing and learn from our feature presenters and feature reporting.”

The show has many serious moments as well. You will hear from Rumana Monzur, Counsel at Department of Justice, Canada. In June 2011, she was brutally attacked and blinded by her husband at the time, Hasan Sayeed Sumon, while visiting in her home country of Bangladesh. As well, you will meet Maria Mitousis, Principal, Mitousis, Lemieux, Howard Law Corporation. Maria became national news when in the summer of 2015, she dropped into her office and opened a package that was on her desk.  In the package was a bomb, and in the ensuing explosion, Maria lost a hand. Hers is a tragic but inspiring story.

A committee will decide where funds that are raised will have the most impact and includes consulting the United Way’s The Social Impact Lab, a platform to research, create, and test new services and business models. The goal is toensure the impact on organizations who support vulnerable populations through the legal sector is maximized.  It is also hoped that public awareness of the out-of-date state of the justice system will encourage a provincial and national discussion.

A minimum $50 donation to United Way receives the Premiere Access link; donate any amount for an after the event link.

For more information and to donate, sponsor or to purchase tickets to the event, visit www.lawyersvstalent.com

Remember, the show goes live Thursday, July 16th, at 6 PM

Disclosure:  Todayville is a proud partner in the production of this innovative program. 

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Alberta

CWB reports Q4 profit down from year ago, still beats expectations

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EDMONTON — CWB Financial Group reported its fourth-quarter profit edged down from a year ago, but the bank still beat expectations.

The bank says it earned net income available to common shareholders of $63.4 million or 73 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended Oct. 31, down from $67.5 million or 77 cents per diluted share a year ago.

Revenue totalled $236.6 million, up from $220.9 million in the same quarter last year.

Total provisions for credit losses were $19.6 million, up from $13.3 million in the same quarter last year, but down from $24.4 million in the third quarter.

On an adjusted basis, CWB says it earned 75 cents per share for the quarter, down from an adjusted profit of 78 cents per share a year ago.

Analysts on average had expected an adjusted profit of 74 cents per share, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:CWB)

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

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CALGARY — One child asks for a coat for her dog in case her family gets evicted. Another girl hopes Santa can bring her pet medication he needs. Another wishes for enough dog food.

A charity that provides subsidized pet care, including food hampers and medical treatment, for low-income residents is receiving Christmas letters from children asking for help for their furry friends.

Parachutes for Pets in Calgary has delivered 2,000 pet food hampers since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March. But demand, especially during the second wave of the pandemic, is taking its toll on both the organization and those receiving help.

“Instead of Santa I wanted to write to you guys. My dog Badger is really cute and my best friend. He needs pills or he gets really, really sick. Could you bring me his pills for my Santa gift? I’ve been really good and so has he,” reads a letter signed Hanna and Badger.

The organization says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week that normally would have gone to Santa.

“My Christmas wish this year is a coat for my dog Max. Mom says we can’t pay rent after this month and I want Max to be warm if we have to stay in our car,” wrote Kaylee.

“I have a warm coat and I think one would be good for him to stay warm. Please tell Santa this is my only wish. Merry Christmas.”

Melissa David, who founded the charity, said the messages from the kids are heartbreaking.

“Instead of writing to Santa, they’ve written to us. Their Christmas wish is either for their dog to get medication and their dog to get food, so they don’t have to share their meal with them.”

David said the charity referred Kaylee’s mom, who was at risk of being evicted, with an agency to deal with her rent arrears.

She said the charity made it through the first wave of the pandemic, but the resurgence of COVID-19 in the last months has resulted in demands coming at a “fast and furious rate.”

“This second wave is going to cripple us. The amount of additional homeless with pets and domestic violence incidents involving pets is astronomical,” David said.

People are still donating food items, she said, but there’s also a need for cash, which is in short supply.

“This (pandemic) in addition to everyday challenges that are still here, such as cancer and illness, is really making it difficult for people to keep their pets at a time they can’t afford mentally to lose them.”

David said she is reaching out in desperation since there are limits on what help the charity can arrange.

“We were passed over for most COVID grants because animals were not considered essential.”

There are also messages asking for help from physically abused women who are afraid to leave their pets behind.

“They want to take their pet with them. They’re at the lowest of lows and they don’t leave with anything but the clothes on their back. And if that pet stays, statistics are 80 per cent that it will be tortured or killed or used as some sort of revenge by the abuser.”

The head of the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter said crisis calls between April and September were up nearly 65 per cent compared with the year before.

Shelter CEO Kim Ruse confirms many women stay where they are for fear of their pets being harmed. 

“Not having a place for pets to go often stops women from leaving abusive and dangerous situations,” Ruse said. “Many are unaware that there are options for keeping pets safe while finding safety for themselves and their children.”

She said the agency does have pet-friendly rooms to accommodate small animals.

“Allowing pets in the shelter will help provide emotional and healing support for women and their children during their stay.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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