What is the Centre de justice de proximité de l’Outaouais?

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Conversation on Messenger 

Hey Cath!!!  

Hi 😀  

And!? How’s your apartment search going?  

It’s going well! I looked at one that was great and in my price range and also in the neighborhood I wanted. But…  


But I talked with the owner and he seemed to be willing to rent it to me, but I’m not sure about the contract he wants me to sign, there’s a clause in it that makes me a little doubtful… I don’t really know what to do…  


    🙁… I know  

Mmmm oh!!! The other day I met someone who told me about an organization that helps people by giving them legal information!!!  

          Huh? What organization? 

Yes yes!!! It’s the Centre de justice de Proximité de l’Outaouais!  

Oh I’m interested, but do you think they can help me? Especially in my situation…  

Yes!! You can meet with a lawyer and they’ll help you and give you information!  

Oh cool, can you send me the contact information?   

Yes!! Let me see if I can’t find a link!   

Here you go! 

Le Centre de justice de l’Outaouais c’est quoi ? 

Geneviève Gratton 

Hello, my name is Geneviève Gratton, I am the Director of the Centre de justice de proximité de l’Outaouais. But, firstly, I am a notary by training, I have been a notary for nearly fifteen years. I was in private practice before I joined the justice center.  

The Centre de justice de proximité de l’Outaouais is a community organization. You might not think so at first glance, but we are 100%-funded by the Quebec Ministry of Justice. That being said, we are an independent organization headed by a board of directors made up of nine very involved administrators who really have access to justice at heart. In fact, our mission is to provide access to justice to all the people of the Outaouais, to give them legal information, to guide them and to support them.   

So the essence of our work at the centre is really to have meetings with each citizen, essentially meetings in person. Even during the pandemic, we were very, very rarely closed because we want to remain accessible, we are a local service. That being said, we also offer information sessions, either virtually, in fact in the last few years it has been virtual, but usually we go to the organizations to give information sessions either at their request, or sometimes we make the proposal. We can pull out a case file, so sometimes at the request of citizens, we just need to pull out a case file. We also have pamphlets, which are useful to the citizens and all the organizations of the region and we can offer forms. So, we really have a nice array of services to really help citizens. First of all, it’s not a small thing to say that the service is free for everyone. So it doesn’t matter what your income is, it doesn’t matter where you are in the Outaouais region, because that’s our essential criterion, you have to be within the Outaouais territory. So, what a great way to better understand the legal problem. Perhaps after your information meeting with our lawyer, our professional who has a diploma, who is a member of a professional order. So, afterwards, you may be able to go and meet with a lawyer or a notary or use another organization in the region that more specifically meets your needs, but at least you will have a meeting, just for you, to explain the ins and outs of your legal problem.  

For over seven years, we have been offering in-person service. We are aware that there are tools on the Internet that are more and more sophisticated and that are offered in complementarity with our own, it is not one or the other, but we still think that it is important to have a service in person. When you are experiencing a difficult legal problem, when you are confused, disoriented, you can talk to someone who will explain the law to you, and that is still essential.   


Laurie Verreault 

So, my name is Laurie Verreault, I am a lawyer by profession, I studied law at Laval University in Quebec City. I also spent a year in private practice in the Quebec City area in family and criminal matters. And for the last two and a half years, I have been working as a lawyer at the Centre de justice de proximité de l’Outaouais. So, in fact, our lawyers are the professionals that the citizens will be called in to meet with within the framework of the exercise of our mission. So, we meet them individually, they are able to come and explain to us the problem they are experiencing, whatever concerns them, and we take the time to dissect this with them from a legal point of view and to offer the complementary resources that could help them.    

In fact, we see ourselves as a gateway to the legal and judicial system in general. So, our goal is to introduce people, to initiate them to the framework, which is our society, in fact, in which they live, and which is governed by rules of law. So any citizen who is in a legal situation and has questions about it, may be interested in starting their journey by coming to see us.  

In fact, we are generalists on our side, so we can take the time to look at all the fields of law with our citizens. However, there are some areas that are more common. So, we do a lot of civil rights, so everything that touches on neighbourhood troubles, consumer law, housing law, in addition to family law, these are questions that come up often. So let’s say, we could take a situation in housing law, someone could come to us who has just received a renewal notice with a notice of increase of his rent, he notices that there are only two options on his notice: either to accept it or to leave. He finds this curious, and then he’s disappointed too, because let’s say he’s been living there for ten years. Well, this is exactly the kind of situation that we could take the time to address, to actually explain what the Civil Code provides in terms of tenant protection and how to properly respond to the notice in order to protect his rights.   

So, we don’t pretend to reinvent the wheel, there are organizations that are specialized in several fields, but our added value is that we are general lawyers and notaries as well, so we are trained in law, and we understand the global context of the exercise of rights in Quebec, to refer people to other resources that could be complementary or even specialized. 

Faced with the complexity of legal issues and the prohibitive cost of legal services, many Quebecers feel intimidated when confronted with legal issues, and few are aware that certain services are available to them free of charge.

In a 2019 CEFRIO study, only 15% of respondents had answered that they had heard of the Centres de justice de proximité, a legal information resource fully funded by the Quebec Ministry of Justice.

In order to raise awareness of these very useful resources, law students met with Me Geneviève Gratton, notary and director of the Centre de justice de proximité de l’Outaouais, and Me Laurie Verreault, jurist and general practitioner with the same organization. In this video, they briefly describe the different services offered, their experiences as well as concrete examples of their work.

This visual advocacy video was produced by law students Paméla Goulet-Gosselin, Catherine Grenon and Marie-Ève Sylvestre as part of the Visual Advocacy/Law and Film course offered by the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section.

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