Chris Johns, Executive Director, MAG Innovation Office closed out FOLA's May 2019 Plenary with a wonderful presentation highlighting some recent achievements, showed us some new initiatives, and offered a sneak peek into what's underway.
All Digital First initiatives must meet the Digital Service Standard, which sets a goal that all government services should be:
Remote Defence Access is now available in:
If you'd like to get started, contact the ministry's innovation office via the email below and you'll be provided with a legal agreement form to complete
The April 2019 Ontario Budget cut Legal Aid funding by nearly 30% ($133 million). It was also announced that the organization could no longer use provincial funds for refugee and immigration cases. Please know that FOLA is working aggressively to ensure that these cuts do not impact front line services. You can read more about Legal Aid here.
1. MODERNIZE AND STREAMLINE SERVICES IN THE JUSTICE SECTOR — FROM POLICING TO COURTS TO CORRECTIONS.
The government aims to achieve this by:
a. Streamlining the delivery of legal aid (est. generated savings of over $164 million annually, starting in 2021–22);
b. Leveraging technology to generate administrative efficiencies of up to $9 million annually, starting in 2021–22, for a staff scheduling solution in correctional facilities, and up to $13 million, at maturity, by diverting low‐risk individuals from the correctional system and providing alternatives to incarceration;
c. Modernizing Ontario’s death investigation system with new technology to respond to emerging challenges, such as the opioid crisis (est. annual savings of about $3 million in 2021–22);
d. Generating back‐office efficiencies by amalgamating adjudicative tribunals, saving up to $5 million annually in 2021–22.
e. Digitizing evidence collection and evidence sharing between police services and Crown attorneys;
f. Prioritizing video conferencing as the first option for most types of in‐custody court appearances;
g. Diverting low‐risk individuals from coming into the justice system and reducing the frequency of offenders committing another crime;
h. Continuing with the implementation of the bail bed program to provide beds in community-based facilities for vulnerable people awaiting bail and lacking shelter in Northern communities;
i. Developing justice centres that will integrate justice, health, education, housing and social services to collectively address the complex intersection of risk factors that drive gun‐ and gang-related violence in Ontario; and
j. Modernizing youth justice services, including the closure of underutilized youth justice facilities and reduction of beds in both the open and secure custody detention system as there is a continued trend of lower need for these services (annual savings: $48 million by 2021–22).
2. Proposed legislation that (if passed) would aim to optimize resources, streamline unnecessary processes, and reduce unreasonable time delays by:
a. Allowing Ontario Court of Justice judges and justices of the peace who are appointed to different courts (e.g., the Ontario Superior Court of Justice) to finish cases in progress before they transition fully to their new appointments;
b. Moving to the use of a single, consolidated database to identify potential jurors;
c. Reducing the use of civil juries for simplified procedure trials; and
d. Allowing the Ontario Judicial Council and Justices of the Peace Review Council to publish their annual reports on their websites after submitting them to the Attorney General.
3. Fraud: The government will work with the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA), a new, independent financial regulator, to:
a. Overhaul the licensing system for health service providers to reduce regulatory burden and fraud, including lowering the treatment fees charged by providers; and
b. Reform the flawed medical assessment process to bring credibility and accountability to the assessments that injured claimants must undergo after an accident.
NB: “The government will also work with the Law Society of Ontario to make contingency fee
agreements more transparent for injured claimants who choose to hire a lawyer”.
4. Mortgage Brokers and Lenders: Doug Downey (MPP & PA – FIN) was tasked with conducting a review of the Mortgage Brokerages, Lenders and Administrators Act, 2006. MPP Downey will provide recommendations to the government in the coming months.
1. E-TRANSACTIONS: Adopting a digital first strategy to make more services available online and easier to use, moving away from in-person and paper-based transactions, helping to reduce costs.
2. AUTO INSURANCE: Making it easier to buy auto insurance, including giving drivers more choice when deciding which auto insurance coverage suits their needs and gives them more control over their rates. Adopting a “care, not cash” default clause to ensure that a driver’s auto insurance coverage will pay for treatment (“instead of costly legal fees”). It will also provide for an improved early treatment system, and a return to the default benefit limit of up to $2 million for those who are catastrophically injured in an accident. Makes note of upcoming reforms to the medical assessments process.
3. ESTATE TAXES: Proposing to provide tax relief for families when they need it most. The death of a loved one is a difficult time for families. Effective January 1, 2020, the Estate Administration Tax would be eliminated for taxable estates with assets of $50,000 or less, and would be reduced by $250 for larger taxable estates.
4. RED TAPE: Cutting red tape by 25 per cent by 2020. Once fully implemented, these changes are expected to provide Ontario businesses with over $400 million in ongoing savings on their compliance costs. Red tape reduction legislation will be introduced each fall and spring
throughout this gov’ts mandate
Lindsey Park, MPP and Parliamentary Assistant to the Attorney General, recently led review of Family and Civil Legislation, Regulations, and Processes. The government’s review explored ways to simplify family and civil court processes, reduce costs and delays, and encourage earlier resolution of disputes.
FOLA’s executive spent much of July 2019 attending various consultation sessions throughout the province and our Family Law Committee Chair, Valerie Brown, prepared our submission, sent to Ms. Park on July 30, 2019.
In March, 2019. The Ministry requested written submissions on their consultation document .
Following consultation with our membership, FOLA presented the Ministry with our submission on April 15, 2019. You can read that submission in its entirety below.
In March, 2019, FOLA presented our formal submission to the Ministry on their proposed amendments to the Juries Act.
In part, FOLA recommended that “No juror address information, but a party could bring a motion to access juror street address information if it is necessary to ensure trial fairness or is otherwise in the interests of justice.” You can access our full submission below.
Proposed changes to fee waiver and court fee regulations (O. Reg. 332/16; O. Reg. 417/95; O. Reg. 293/92; O. Reg. 2/05) under the Administration of Justice Act.
Recently EY Canada completed a line-by-line review of Government Expenditures, identifying opportunities to move toward full cost recovery for court and transactional services.
In response, the Ministry of the Attorney General (the ministry) is proposing court fee changes to bring some of its business lines closer to full cost recovery. If approved, these changes - which involve increases to existing court fees and fee waiver eligibility - would take effect April 1, 2019.
The deadline for submissions was February 13, 2019 and you can read the Toronto Law Association's submission here.
There were changes to civil and small claims fees and the fee waiver eligibility criteria in 2016. Family fees in the Superior Court of Justice have not changed since 2004 (or 2000 in some cases).
The current fee levels help to partially offset the ministry's cost of providing specific court services in relation to the steps taken by the parties for which the fee is charged. However, even with the recent changes in 2016, the ministry is currently recovering less than one third of what it costs to deliver civil, small claims and family justice services.
The ministry's current proposal builds on the court fee changes from 2016. Our proposal includes:
• Increasing certain civil and family court fees based on the Ontario Consumer Price Index since each fee was last increased;
• Increasing certain fees in Small Claims Court to bring them to 50% of the civil court fee amounts;
• Increasing civil and small claims fees that attach to "in-court" services (such as filing a trial record) by 100% as the cost recovery rates for court filings that result in courtroom time are significantly lower. As a result, fees need to be increased by more than the Consumer Price Index in order to improve cost recovery for in-court services. An increase of 50% is also being proposed to the existing family fees that attach to "in-court" services; and
• In some cases fees involving similar work across business lines will be aligned, where appropriate. Aligning fees for similar types of transactions across practice areas makes fees easier to understand and administer, while increasing cost recovery.
The proposed increases are a way for the ministry to ensure that the costs of providing a program or service that benefits an individual are paid by the beneficiary of that program or service.
To ensure that higher fees do not have an undue impact on access to justice, the ministry is also proposing to raise the fee waiver eligibility thresholds.
Affected fees, as well as fee waiver thresholds, will be automatically increased every three years by applying the Consumer Price Index. Services that are already at full cost-recovery will not have fee increases applied.
On March 26, 2019, Doug Downey, MPP (Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte) and then Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance (currently AG), filed his Private Member's Bill for first reading in the Legislature. Bill 88 proposes several changes to the Planning Act, which FOLA is enthusiastically supporting.
The Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG) has enhanced the civil claims online filing service (Ontario.ca/civilclaims) based on feedback from legal associations and users.
As of November 26, 2018, you can:
Additional enhancements include:
The ministry will continue to enhance the service based on user feedback. Please share your thoughts on the service by completing the Rate Our Service survey on the portal or emailing email@example.com.