Canada is governed by an organized system of laws. These laws are created by governments which are chosen freely by the people. The law in Canada applies to everyone, including the police, judges, politicians, and members of the government. The main purposes of our laws are to provide order in society, to provide a peaceful way to settle disputes, and to express the values and beliefs of Canadian society. Everyone in Canada, whether a citizen or a permanent resident, has equal access to the justice system.
The police are there to keep people safe and enforce the law. You can ask the police for help in all kinds of situations ?if there been an accident, if someone has stolen something from you, if you are a victim of assault, if you see a crime taking place, if someone you know has gone missing, etc.
There are different types of police in Canada, including provincial police departments and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who enforce federal laws. Remember, the police are there to help you. Don`t hesitate to call 911 or 0 for the operator to contact your local police force in an emergency.
If for some reason you are questioned by the police or arrested, do not resist. Remember, in Canada, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Communicate as clearly as possible and look directly at the officer. Be ready to show some kind of identification. If you are taken into custody you have the right to know why and to have a lawyer and a translator, if needed. Under Canadian law, it is a serious crime to try to bribe the police by offering money, gifts or services in exchange for special treatment.
If you need a lawyer to protect your interests in court, then you can hire one, for a fee. You may also be entitled to free legal services, or legal aid,?depending on your income. You will find the numbers for provincial legal aid in the booklet called Key Information Sources in the back pocket of this guide. An immigrant-serving organization will also be able to tell you where and how to obtain these services.
Parents in Canada have a legal duty to provide their children with the necessities of life until they reach age 16. It is illegal in Canada to abuse your children, either physically, psychologically, or sexually. All forms of child abuse are serious crimes. Abuse can include spanking children enough to cause bruises, terrorizing or humiliating them, any kind of sexual contact, and neglect. Police, doctors, teachers and children`s aid workers will take action if they think children are being harmed. In serious cases, children can be taken away from their parents. Some cultural practices are not acceptable in Canada. For instance, all forms of female genital mutilation (FGM) are prohibited under Canadian law.
In Canada, men and women are equal. They have the same rights, as outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Discrimination against women and violence towards women are both against the law. Women who are abused by their husbands can seek help for themselves and their children in community shelters. They are also entitled to legal protection to keep them safe.
There are a number of organizations in Canada which work to safeguard and promote the rights of women, and some of these organizations work to help immigrant women in particular. Your local immigrant-serving agency will be able to provide you with the names of these organizations. Information on legal rights and shelters can be found near the front of your telephone book under istress Centres,?hild Abuse,?or exual Assault.?
Violence towards any person ?man, woman or child ?is against the law in Canada. No one has the right to hit or threaten people or to force them into sexual activities. The law applies no matter who it is ?wife/husband, partner, girlfriend/boyfriend, parent, or another relative.
If you or your children are being abused, call the police at 911 or your local emergency number. They can help you find medical help or drive you to a safe place, if you wish. Emergency shelters, counselling and free legal advice are available for adults and children who are being abused. There are also Rape Crisis and Sexual Assault Support Centres listed in the first few pages of the telephone book. They are there to help you.?In many Canadian cities there are also 24-hour-a-day telephone help lines, if you just need someone to talk to. They can also refer you to the help you need.
Many community centres also offer counselling for abusive partners who are seeking help, for families who wish to stay together, and for children.
A senior citizen is someone 65 years of age or older. If you are a senior, you may be entitled to certain government benefits, such as the Old Age Security pension (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). In order to qualify, you must meet certain residence requirements. You may also be eligible for old age security benefits from your former country. Some provinces supplement these plans, and offer extra benefits, such as prescription drug plans. For information, call 1-800 277-9914 (toll-free). If you have a hearing or speech impairment and you use a TDD/TTY device, please call 1-800 255-4786. The French toll-free number is 1-800 277-9915. Many businesses also offer special rates for senior citizens, or special areas where seniors can be served more comfortably.