The Okanagan Advocacy & Resource Society (OARS) was founded in 2002 in response to cutbacks to the poverty law arm of the Legal Services Society, and the related need for legal advocacy services in the Central Okanagan. The focus for services out of Kelowna, funded by Interior Health, was for advocacy for people with mental illness and their families, whether clients of mental health services or outside those services. Agency staff participated in individual and systemic advocacy and also provided legal information workshops, and attended the annual Legal Advocate conferences hosted by the Law Foundation of BC and the Legal Services Society.
In 2017, OARS relocated in Vernon, and under funding from the Law Foundation is able to offer legal advocacy to all people of low income in these areas:
- For tenants, especially those under the Residential Tenancy Act
- Provincial income assistance and disability assistant applicants and recipients
- Canada Pension Plan Disability
- Employment Insurance appeals
- General information and referrals for other issues
We do not employ lawyers or deal with court matters – the appeals we deal with are within the administrative tribunal structure.