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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.