22/03/2017 - Mario Bellissimo
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Bellissimo Law Group Recipient of Prestigious 2016 National Pro Bono Award!
Each year, the Canadian Pro Bono Awards Ceremony honours individuals, groups, and organizations around Canada for their distinguished Pro Bono contributions. Bellissimo Law Group is honoured to have received the Canadian National Pro Bono Law Firm Award.
Lynn Burns (Executive Director of PBO) commented at length on Bellissimo Law Group’s involvement.
“Despite its small size – Bellissimo has only seven lawyers – the firm has helped over 100 families. Bellissimo has demonstrated long-term dedication to the development and delivery of legal services to low-income Ontarians who have nowhere else to turn. […] Bellissimo Law Group’s pro bono contributions have had huge, life altering impacts on families facing severe challenges due to their children’s serious or chronic illnesses. If it wasn’t for Bellissimo Law Group, many more people in the direst of situations would be falling through the cracks.”
An Opportunity to Make a Change
“Mario Bellissimo, founder and principal lawyer, had read an article about the MLP’s effort to address children’s health-harming legal needs and approached PBO with an offer to help. . . Mario felt deep empathy for our SickKids families. He told PBO: “These families are at their lowest point. They have ill children and next to nothing left to wage a legal battle. How could we not help?”
“Bellissimo Law Group provides ongoing training and mentorship to five PBO triage lawyers embedded in children’s hospitals throughout Ontario. Bellissimo has twice offered day long CPD sessions to these lawyers. In addition, the firm offers public legal education seminars to social workers and nurses to help them better understand the immigration issues with which their patients are grappling. Bellissimo has donated hundreds of hours to help low-income families address their unmet legal needs.”
“Bellissimo accepts cases where families have been denied legal aid and where the child’s health is at risk. It has carried multiple Humanitarian and Compassionate consideration applications on behalf of families facing deportation to countries that do not have the health care infrastructure to treat their children. For example, Bellissimo helped one mother and her four-year-old child, who had cancer, avoid deportation to a country that did not have a pediatric oncology program. Bellissimo saved that child’s life.”
“On another occasion, Bellissimo helped a family whose child had organ failure to obtain Permanent Resident status and, with it, the health insurance coverage that opened a spot for the child on the transplant list (children are only allowed to be on the transplant list if their families have resources in place to meet their long-term post-surgical needs). In addition to saving that child’s life, Bellissimo helped the struggling family avoid ruinous medical debt.”
“On yet another occasion, Bellissimo Law Group helped a newcomer family obtain a temporary visa for a grandparent after their child was born with a severe congenital defect. The child’s care requirements were so overwhelming that both parents needed to attend to them. The firm’s intervention helped ease the burden on the parents and enabled the father, who was the sole breadwinner, to return to work.”
We are pleased to have played a role in helping families at critical points in their lives to secure a better life in Canada. These families and in particular the children’s exclusive focus should be healing. We will continue our efforts to help those in need.
Thank you to Pro Bono Ontario for this honour!