People living with cancer and in financial difficulty can now benefit from free legal services thanks to a pilot project deployed throughout Quebec by Juripop and the Quebec Cancer Foundation (FQC).

Launched this week, the initiative aims to provide support in matters of civil, family and housing law.

The project stems from the fact that the cancer foundation is regularly solicited for legal questions through its cancer information line.

"People with cancer often find themselves in a precarious financial situation, and, therefore, cannot afford to pay a lawyer or go see a notary, and services dedicated specifically to people with cancer did not exist," said Juripop executive director Sophie Gagnon.

Juripop works to improve access to justice, including for the most vulnerable.

"Being diagnosed with cancer is life-altering and brings with it many professional and personal issues," said Gagnon. "It can change people's ability to do their jobs, so they may need to talk to a lawyer to find out what their rights are with their employer.

"We'll also work with notaries. Everything from estate planning and wills to advance medical directives are definitely issues we expect to receive," she said.

Juripop's mandate will essentially be to provide legal advice and assistance, including drafting documents and demand letters, and assisting in negotiations and mediation. The lawyers will not touch certain areas such as immigration, taxation, and criminal and penal law.

People who can use this service must meet a certain family income threshold depending on the size of their household. For example, for a couple, the maximum family income has been established at $32,899, while for a household of four people it is $49,106.

The project, which is financially supported by the FQC and the Chambre des notaires du Québec, expects to reach a few hundred people in the coming months.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on May 21, 2022.