Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Frequently asked questions about the Unifor Legal Services Plan.
1. What is it?
The Plan is a self-administered, non-profit trust. It provides quality legal services at affordable prices to eligible Unifor members and their families.
The Plan is established by collective agreements negotiated between each sponsoring company and Unifor.
2. Who runs it?
Each separate Plan agreement establishes a Board of Trustees called the Administrative Committee. Each Committee has equal company and union representation and an independent chairperson.
In order to achieve significant cost savings, each separate plan uses the same central administration, run on a day-to-day basis by an Executive Director who reports to the trustees.
3. How is it financed?
Plan benefits and administrative expenses are paid from a trust fund. Contributions to this fund are made by the sponsoring companies in amounts established through collective bargaining.
4. Who is eligible?
Each separate Plan agreement has its own eligibility requirements. Most provide eligibility for bargaining unit employees (in most cases with at least one year of seniority) and retirees. Eligibility ceases in most cases if the employee has been continuously laid off for 18 months.
In most cases, spouses and surviving spouses of employees and retirees are also eligible, as are unmarried, dependent children, under age 26, who reside at home.
5. When does coverage start? (Coverage Information)
The effective date of Plan coverage varies for each sponsoring company. Check your collective agreement or call a Staff Office near you to find out when your coverage commenced.
Please note: Any matter that started before your commencement date is not covered.
a) There is no coverage for purchases or sales if the Agreement of Purchase and Sale was signed prior to the date on which you became eligible for the Legal Services Plan benefit.
b) There is no coverage for Mortgages if the letter of commitment to the lender was signed prior to the date on which you became eligible for the Legal Services Plan benefit.
c) There is no coverage if you hired the lawyer prior to the date on which you became eligible for the Legal Services Plan benefit.
d) Benefit changes only apply to cases that start on or after the effective date of the change.
6. How do I use it?
CALL THE PLAN FIRST! When you call, be sure you have your social insurance number, employee number and seniority date available. Your eligibility will be checked and the Plan coverage for the legal service that you require will be explained. The addresses and telephone numbers of all Plan offices are displayed on the Staff Offices page.
Call the Staff Office nearest to you. If there is no Staff Office near you, call the national office in Toronto.
1 St. Clair West Ave.
7. What if I have a complaint?
Please notify our Head Office in Toronto by calling 1-800-268-7573 or contact us.
8. What is excluded from Plan Coverage?
The Plan will not provide benefits or in any other manner pay for the following:
- fines and penalties, whether civil or criminal
- any judgment for civil damages, including judicially awarded costsvv
- costs attendant to the purchase or sale of real estate, such as registration fees, land transfer taxes, surveys, real estate agent commissions, title insurance, premiums, and fees for title searches
- all disbursements such as court filing fees, process serving, transcripts, expert witnesses, etc.
- legal services outside of Canada or the U.S.A.
- services provided by non-lawyers, except Notaries in Quebec and British Columbia
- legal services which are for a Participant’s business
- matters involving federal, provincial, municipal or local election to any public office
- any proceeding against the Participant’s employer, its subsidiaries, dealers, directors, officers or agents
- any proceeding against the Participant’s union, its subordinate or affiliated bodies or the officers or agents of such, or any labour union or association representing employees of the Participant’s employer
- any proceeding arising under applicable labour relations acts, labour codes or labour standards acts
- any bankruptcy proceeding that would result in discharge of a debt owed to the Participant’s employer, its subsidiaries, dealers, directors, officers or agents, the Participant’s union or any benefit plan or trust established or maintained by the employer
- proceedings against or arising from any benefit Plan established or maintained by the Participant’s employer, including proceedings against any trust or - insurance carrier through which such benefits are provided to the employer, its employees or retirees including any dispute involving the Plan
- Workers' Compensation or Employment Insurance matters involving the Participant’s employer
9. What about GST, HST and other taxes?
The Plan does not pay sales or any other taxes related to lawyer or notary fees.
10. How is the service delivered?
CALL THE PLAN FIRST! Plan Participants must contact the Staff Office located nearest them or the Head Office in Toronto to determine their eligibility and benefits under the Plan. Participants may go to a Staff Lawyer in the Staff Office, a Co-operating Lawyer or Notary or Non-co-operating Lawyer or Notary for their legal services.
Staff Lawyers are employed by the Plan, work in Staff Offices and provide legal services to Participants according to the Plan fee schedule.
Co-operating Lawyers and Notaries are in private practice and have contracted with the Plan to provide legal services to Participants according to the Plan fee schedule.
(Please Note: Co-operating Lawyers are not “Plan Lawyers”. They are lawyers in private practice in your community who have agreed to bill according to our fee schedule. The Plan is not responsible for any act or omission by any Co-operating Lawyer or Notary.)
Non-co-operating Lawyers and Notaries are in private practice and have not contracted with the Plan to provide legal services to Participants according to the Plan fee schedule. They may extra-bill Participants over and above the Plan fee schedule.
No matter what kind of lawyer or notary you use, it is important to CALL THE PLAN FIRST to determine your eligibility and the benefit available to you under the Plan.
11. Who pays?
For legal fees paid by the Plan (see “Prepaid” and “Mixed” below) the Plan will pay directly for the services of Staff Lawyers or Co-operating Lawyers or Notaries. If you choose to use a non-co-operating lawyer or notary you pay him or her directly and submit the account to the Head Office in Toronto. The Plan will reimburse you up to the amount of the Plan fee schedule.
For legal fees that are your responsibility (see “Mixed” and “Referral” below) you pay the lawyer or notary directly. If you so choose and if available, the Plan will refer you to a Co-operating Lawyer or Notary who will only charge you in accordance with the current Plan fee schedule. For most cases, you will be charged an hourly rate; for others (e.g. Probate and some uncontested Family matters) you will be charged a fixed amount.
12. What types of benefits are provided?
There are three types of benefits available:
Prepaid (P): means that the Plan will pay all legal fees, except title search fees, at the Plan fee schedule rate. You are responsible for all disbursements and taxes (e.g. GST, HST).
Mixed (M): means that the Plan pays for the first part of the legal fees (except taxes and GST, HST) at the Plan fee schedule rate. Payment for subsequent legal fees is your responsibility. There are five types of Mixed Benefits.
- M-2: The Plan pays for the first two hours.
- M-4: The Plan pays for the first four hours.
- M-10: The Plan pays for the first ten hours.
- M-12: The Plan pays for the first twelve hours.
- M-20: The Plan pays for the first twenty hours.
Referral (R): means that, if you so choose and if available, the Plan will refer you to a Co-operating Lawyer or Notary or to a Staff Lawyer who will only charge you in accordance with the current Plan fee schedule rate. You are responsible for all fees, taxes and disbursements.
The Committee that administers this benefit has the authority to make decisions, from time to time, that affect the benefits and coverage provided to members. Consequently, the information provided here is subject to change. Although every effort will be made to update this website, it is important for you to check with the Plan as to benefit coverage and eligibility whenever legal services are required. ALWAYS CALL THE PLAN FIRST!
Co-operating Lawyers are not “Plan Lawyers”. They are not employed by the Plan. They are lawyers in private practice in your community who have agreed to bill according to our fee schedule. The Plan is not responsible for any act or omission by any Co-operating Lawyer.
In all cases in which there is a conflict of interest between the eligible employee and a spouse or dependent, the Plan coverage provided for the legal services required will extend ONLY to the employee or retiree. The spouse or dependent will be reimbursed for no more than one hour of initial advice and consultation at the Plan fee schedule hourly rate.