Chapter 4 - Your Rights and Freedoms in Canada

Resource (adapted from: Welcome to Canada "What you should know" -

(page 35)
In Canada, both federal and provincial or territorial laws protect the rights and freedoms of individuals. Canada's tradition of freedom and rights can be traced back to the time of Magna Carta, a document signed by King John of England in the year 1215. Canad's first Bill of Rights was approved by Parliament in 1960. The Constitution Act of 1982 incorporates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Canadian constitution includes the rights and freedoms to which Canadians are entitled in a free and democratic society. The Constitution guarantees certain political rights to Canadian citizens. It also guarantees civil rights to everybody in Canada.

Affirming rights that Canadians have enjoyed for centuries and a number of additional rights, the Canadian constitution protects:
  • The freedom to express your beliefs and opinions freely (including through free press);
  • The freedom to associate with anyone you wish and gather peacefully with other people;
  • The freedom to practice religion;
  • The right to live anywhere in Canada;
  • The right to protection from unlawful or unjust arrest or detention by the government because in Canada every individual is equal before and under the law. You also have the right to due legal process under Canadian law. This means that the government must respect all your rights under the law;
  • The right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability;
  • The same rights whether you are a woman or a man; and
  • The right to receive services from the federal government in either English or French.

Our laws protect all Canadians, including gays and lesbians, from unjust discrimination. All Canadians enjoy the same access to education, health care, jobs, housing, social services and pensions, regardless of their sexual orientation. In 2005, parliament passed a law extending right to civil marriage to same-sex couples. At the same time, the law protects religious freedom, so that no person or organization can be forced to act contrary to their conscience religion or beliefs in respect of marriage.

Chapter 4 - Your Rights and Freedoms in Canada

Resource (adapted from: Welcome to Canada "What you should know" -
(page 36)

As a resident of Canada, you benefit from all the rights listed above and more. The Government of Canada encourages you to understand that these rights come with certain responsibility, such as:
  • Respecting Canada's laws;
  • Learning English or French or both;
  • Working to take care of yourself and your family;
  • Helping others in your community; and
  • Protecting Canada's heritage and natural environment.

Diversity and its limits
Canada has a long tradition of accommodating linguistic, cultural and religious differences that dates back centuries and remains strong. The policy of Multiculturalism encourages Canadians to maintain those family and cultural traditions which are consistent with Canadian values such as human dignity and equality before the law.

Equality of women and men
Canada's openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, honour killings, female genital mutilation, forced marriage or other gender-based violence. Those guilty of these crimes are severely punished under Canada's criminal laws.

Chapter 4 - Your Rights and Freedoms in Canada

Resource (adapted from: Welcome to Canada "What you should know" -
(page 37)

The rights and duties of Canadian citizens
If you become a Canadian citizen, you will have the right to:
  • vote in federal, provincial or territorial, and municipal elections;
  • be a candidate in elections; and
  • apply for a Canadian passport and enter and leave the country freely.

You will also have the legal duty to serve on a jury if called to do so and the civic responsibility to contribute to Canadian democracy by voting in elections.

Defending Canada
In Canada, service in the military is not required but it is a noble profession and an excellent career choice. You may choose to work in:
  • the Royal Canadian Navy;
  • The Canadian Army; or
  • The Royal Canadian Air Force.

We have a proud military tradition of protecting Canada and upholding freedom and democracy. Canada's roles in the First World War and the Second World War were particularly notable and the Canadian Forces remain active around the world and in Canada today. You are encouraged to find out about Canada's military history, a key component of the Canadian identity. For more information, visit You can also serve in a local part-time navy, militia or air reserves and get valuable experience, skills and contacts. It is also possible to serve in the Coast Guard or emergency community services, such as a police force or fire department.

Chapter 5 - Canadian law and justice

Resource (adapted from: Welcome to Canada "What you should know" -
(page 39)

Laws help to maintain a safe and peaceful society in which people's rights are respect. The Canadian legal system respects individual rights while at the same time making sure that our society works in an orderly manner. An essential principle is that the law applies to everyone. This includes the police, government and public officials, who must carry out their public duties according to the law.

Canadian laws recognize and protect basic individual rights and freedoms, such as liberty and equality. Our legal system, which is based on a tradition of law and justice, gives Canadian society a valuable framework. The rule of law and democratic principles have been part of our history and remain today the foundation of the legal system.

(page 40)

If you need help in a Canadian court, you could consider hiring a lawyer to represent you. There are services that can help you find a lawyer. These include referral services provided by provincial and territorial law society (consult and JusticeNet, a not-for-profit service helping people in need of legal expertise (call 1-866-929-3219 or consult

Depending on your income, you may be able to get the services of a lawyer free of charge (this is called "legal aid"). Each pronvince and territory has a legal aid society that is responsible for providing these services. You can also ask an immigrant-serving organization in your city or town for assistance in obtaining legal representation (consult



Canadian Law

August 27, 2013
Guest Speaker: Shalini Konanur
From SALCO South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario
45 Sheppard Ave. East, Suite 106A, Toronto, ON M2N 5W9

Power of Attorney & Wills
Power of Attorney - for property and / or personal care
(only valid when the person is alive, canceled after person dies)

What is a power of Attorney ("POA") - it is a legal document that gives someone else the right to act on your behalf. No one can be foreced to make a POA. The "attorney" in your POA is simply the person who you have chosen to look after your affairs.

In Ontario we have 2 kinds of POAs:
1. A Continuing Power of Attorney for Property ("CPOA") covers your financial affairs and allows the person you name to act for you even ifyou becomne mentally incapable.

2. A Power of Attorney for Personal Care ("POAPC") covers your personal decisions,such as housing and health care.

Content for a Valid CPOA & POAPC:

There is no specific form that must be used to create POA. People can draw up the document in whatever way they wish. Although a special form is not required, to be valid, the POA must:
  • Be called a Continui8ng Power of Attorney for Property or say that it allows your attorney to continue acting for you if you become mentally incapable, or it should be called a Power of Attorney for personal Care.
  • Name one ormore persons to act as your attorney for property.
  • Be signed by you and dated.
  • Be signed by tow witnesses who saw you sign the document (*** POA's made under the old law needed only one witness. These POAs are still valid).
    • Witnesses must be over 18 and have the mental capacity to be a witness, they cannot be your spouse, your child, teh attorney being appointed, or a guardian as already appointed by the court.

Who can make a CPOA/POAPC:

Anyone who is 18 yearsof age or older and who has the necessary level of mental capacity can make a CPOA. Mental capacity means that you understand that your are appointing an attorney and understand and know about all of your property and assets.

Anyone who is 16 years of age or older and who has thenecessary level of mental capacity can make a CPOA. Mental Capacity means that you understand what it means to appoint an attorney to make decisions for you.

  • Know what property you have and its approximate value,
  • are aware of your oblications to the people who depend on you financially,
  • know what you are giving your attorney the authority to do,
  • know that your attorney is required to account for the decisions he or she makes about your property,
  • know that, as long as you are mentally capable,you can revoke (cancel) this Power of Attorney,
  • understand that ifyour attorney does not manage your property well its value may decrease,and
  • understand that there is always a chance that your attorney could misuse his or her authority.
  • Understand whether the person you name as your attorney is truly concerned with your well-being, and
  • Understand thatyou may need this person to make decisions for you.

Who can be an Attorney:

Anyone who is close to you and who is over 18 and mentally capable. They do not have to live in Ontario.

The person you appoint must be at least 16 years of age and mentally capable. you can name someone who lives outside Ontario. You cannot name someone who you pay to provide services to you unless that person is a relative.

      • you can appoint more than one attorney to act on your behalf. ifyou do this both attorneys will have to act together is making all of the decisions for you, unless you give them the power to act "jointly or severally".

When does my CPOA/POAPC take effect

Your attorney will be able to use the CPOA as soon as it is signed and witnessed, unless you say otherwise in the document. You might, for example,want to say that teh power of attorney can only effect once you have been determined to be incapable of managing our property. If you do this, it is wise to say how your incapacity will be determined. A letter from your doctor might be sufficient, for example. But think carefully before you set these type of conditions as it may result in complications and delays if the need to use the document arises. You may instead wish to simply have an unwritten agreement with your attorney that he or she will use it only if you can't look after these matters yourself and trust that your attorney will make the right decision at the time.

Unlike a Power of Attorney for Property, a POAPC may only be used during a time that you are mentally incapable of making your own personal care decisionws. It is up to your attorney to decide whether you are mentally incapable, with a few exceptions. If the decision is about medical treatment or admission to a long-term care facility, a health professinal must determine whether you are incapable of such decisions before your attorney may act. in addition, you can say in your POaOC that your attorney is required to get independent evidence of your incapacity - a letter from your doctor, for example - beofre he or she mayact on your behalf.

What do I do with my CPOa / POAPC once it is done:
This is up to you. Some people choose to give a copy to the attorney. Some people leave the document with a trusted third party. Some people place the document in a safetydeposit box. This is entirely dependent on what you want to do. There is no mechanism for registering a POA with the government of Ontario.

Most of theinformation you will need can be found on the website for the Ministry of the Attorney General:

In Canada, the requirements for a will vary from province to province.

A will is a written and signed statement, made by an individual, which provides for the disposition of their property when they die. many people putother things in their will as well, such as how to dispose of their body or where and how to conduct the memorial service.


The "bread and butter" will in Canada (the one most commonly used), also known as the English-law will becasue of its origin, is the conventional will. Every province recognizeds this will and it requires the following formalities:
  1. In writing (i.e., verbal wills are unacceptable);
  2. The testator (person who signs the will) must have legal capacity. Minors can not make valid wills nor can the mentally-incaapable;
  3. singed by the testator at the end of the will
  4. The testator must sign or acknowledge his or her signature in front of at least tow witnesses, who attest to the fact that they witnessed the signing of the will or the testator acknowledged his or her signature in their presence;
  5. The witnesses must be of the age of majority and cannot be a beneficiary named in the will or spouse of the deceased; and
  6. Alghough not absolutely required, it is preferable to write the date on the document. Also, in QUebec, each page must be initialed by the testator and the witnesses.

If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer to do yoru will you can buy a "will kit' and certain stores or on the internet. These kits will assist you in creating our own legal will for Ontario.