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The Ministry of the Attorney General is responsible for providing a fair and accessible justice system that reflects the needs of diverse communities across the province. The ministry employs approximately 7,985 staff who provide services in criminal, civil, family and small claims courts, the ministry's agencies, the prosecution of crime, services to victims, support to vulnerable people and legal services to government.
The ministry is guided by three key strategies that support the government priority of justice and the commitment to "keep families safe and secure." They are:
The ministry helps protect community, family and personal safety through the effective prosecution of offences.
The criminal justice system receives almost 600,000 new charges each year. The ministry is determined to improve the effectiveness of the criminal justice system and has implemented initiatives to reduce delays in Ontario's criminal courts and move major criminal cases through the justice system faster and more effectively.
On June 3, 2008, the Attorney General announced the Justice on Target strategy. The strategy seeks to achieve faster, focused justice by reducing by 30 per cent the provincial average number of court appearances and days needed to complete a criminal case by June 2012. The strategy is about justice participants working collaboratively to get to decision points faster and to complete non-complex cases quicker. Doing so creates the capacity for justice participants to direct more attention to serious and difficult cases, and to better serve witnesses, victims and the public.
The ministry continues to support and work with Legal Aid Ontario as it provides high-quality legal services to low-income Ontarians.
As part of Ontario's Aboriginal Justice Strategy, the province supports a variety of programs for both Aboriginal offenders and victims that provide equitable, coordinated and responsive criminal justice services, including victim services.
The ministry provides support services for victims of crime through initiatives such as the Victim/Witness Assistance Program and community victims' services. As an advisory agency, the Office for Victims of Crime works to strengthen victims' services by consulting with victims and advising government on ways to improve services to victims. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board awards compensation to victims of violent crimes.
The ministry provides and supports a wide array of services for vulnerable people through community, agency and court-based initiatives, including decision-making by the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee for mentally incapable people who have no one else to act on their behalf.
The ministry also delivers special services for Ontario's children, including:
The ministry is responsible for the Ontario Human Rights Code and for the arm's-length agencies that administer the Code. Ontario's human rights system is made up of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Legal Support Centre. The system reinforces Ontario's leadership in human rights and addresses systemic discrimination.
The ministry is responsible for administering criminal, civil, family and small claims courts. In these courts, ministry employees provide courtroom and administrative support, maintain records, enforce civil orders, collect fines and fees and give information to the public. The ministry also works with the judiciary and justice partners on measures to improve access to justice, and to encourage alternatives to litigation for appropriate cases.
The ministry is also guided by a strategy that supports the government commitment to "serve the public interest."
The ministry supports the role of the Attorney General as Chief Law Officer of the Crown. It provides the government with expert legal services, advocacy and representation before tribunals and at all levels of court.
The ministry also maintains public accountability for the administration of:
Additionally, the Ministry has responsibility for the following social justice tribunals including:
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ORGANIZATIONAL CHART (PDF)
ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Administration of Justice Act
Age of Majority and Accountability Act
Apology Act, 2009
Arbitration Act, 1991
Assessment Review Board Act
Blind Persons' Rights Act
Class Proceedings Act, 1992
Commissioners for Taking Affidavits Act
Compensation for Victims of Crime Act
Courts of Justice Act
Crown Witnesses Act
Dog Owners' Liability Act
Environmental Review Tribunal Act, 2000
Fines and Forfeitures Act
Habeas Corpus Act
Hospitals and Charitable Institutions
Human Rights Code
Judicial Review Procedure Act
Justices of the Peace Act
Legal Aid Services Act, 1998
Legislation Act, 2006
Limitations Act, 2002
Ontario Heritage Act, Part III
Ontario Municipal Board Act
Ontario Works Act, 1997 (section pertaining to Social Benefits Tribunal)
Police Services Act (sections pertaining to Office of the Independent Police Review Director)
Provincial Offences Act
Public Inquiries Act, 1990
Public Inquiries Act, 2009 (not in force)
Real Property Limitations Act
Rescuing Children from Sexual Exploitation Act, 2002 (Parts III and IV) (not in force)
Safe Streets Act, 1999
Statutory Powers Procedure Act
Tobacco Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act, 2009
Victims Bill of Rights, 1995
Child and Family Services Act (sections pertaining to Child and Family Services Review Board, Custody Review Board)
Children's Law Reform Act
Family Law Act
Parental Responsibility Act, 2000
Enforcement of Judgment Conventions Act, 1999
International Commercial Arbitration Act
Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act International Interests in Mobile Equipment Act (Aircraft Equipment), 2002 (not in force)
Inter-Provincial Summonses Act
Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act
Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments (UK) Act
Settlement of International Investment Disputes Act, 1999 (not in force)
Trans-boundary Pollution Reciprocal Access Act
Aliens' Real Property Act
Conveyancing and Law of Property Act
Disorderly Houses Act
Fraudulent Conveyances Act
Occupiers' Liability Act
Property and Civil Rights Act
Religious Organizations' Lands Act
Short Forms of Leases Act
Trespass to Property Act
Absconding Debtors Act
Alcohol and Gaming Regulation and Public Protection Act, 1996 (sections related to Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario)
Bulk Sales Act
Business Records Protection Act
Charities Accounting Act
Construction Lien Act
Costs of Distress Act
Creditors' Relief Act
Electronic Commerce Act, 2000
Employers and Employees Act
Frustrated Contracts Act
Gaming Control Act, 1992
International Sale of Goods Act
Liquor Licence Act
Mercantile Law Amendment Act
Sale of Goods Act
Statute of Frauds
Ticket Speculation Act
Unconscionable Transactions Relief Act
Vendors and Purchasers Act
Warehouse Receipts Act
Chartered Accountants Act, 2010
Certified General Accountants Act, 2010
Certified Management Accountants, 2010
Law Society Act
Professional Engineers Act
Public Accounting Act, 2004
Crown Agency Act
Crown Attorneys Act
Ministry of the Attorney General Act
Proceedings Against the Crown Act
Public Authorities Protection Act
Public Officers Act
Crown Administration of Estates Act
Declarations of Death Act, 2002
Estates Administration Act
Powers of Attorney Act
Public Guardian and Trustee Act
Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (sections pertaining to the Landlord and Tennant Board)
Settled Estates Act
Substitute Decisions Act, 1992
Succession Law Reform Act
Variation of Trusts Act
Civil Remedies Act, 2001
Donation of Food Act
Education Act (sections pertaining to Special Education Tribunal- English & French)
Executive Council Act
Good Samaritan Act
Libel and Slander Act
Lieutenant Governor Act
Members' Integrity Act
Ontario Association of Former Parliamentarians Act
Prohibiting Profiting from Recounting Crimes Act, 2002
Revised Statutes Confirmation and Corrections Act
Religious Freedom Act
Election Finances Act
Electoral System Referendum Act, 2007
Representation Act, 2005
Legislative Assembly Act
Charitable Gifts Act
Domestic Violence Protection Act, 2000
Ontario Law Reform Commission Act
Public Accountancy Act
Statute and Regulation Revision Act, 1998
Interim Actuals reflect the numbers presented in the Ontario Budget
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Table 1: Ministry Planned Expenditures 2011-12
Table 2: Operating and Capital Summary by Vote 2011-12
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Through its Results-based Plan, the Ministry of the Attorney General supports the government's justice priority and its commitment to "keep families safe and secure" and to "serve the public interest".
The government has committed to the result, "keep families safe and secure". To achieve this, the ministry has established three strategies with a number of related objectives for 2011-2012.
Deliver an Effective Justice System
The ministry works to protect community, family and personal safety through the prosecution of offences in all criminal matters and all criminal appeals before all levels of courts in the province. The ministry employs over 1,000 Crown attorneys for that purpose. The ministry is working to improve the effective functioning of the criminal justice system, which receives almost 600,000 new criminal charges per year.
The ministry continues to play a leading role in the government's anti-gun and gang strategy. The Guns and Gangs Operations' Centre's (GGOC's) coordinated crime-fighting model, which brings the police, Crown Attorneys, Victim Witness Assistance and other justice professionals under one roof to share information and expertise, continues to improve Ontario's effort to get guns and gangs off our streets.
Justice on Target
The Justice on Target strategy and resulting initiatives will enable the ministry to fulfill its commitment to improve the effectiveness of the criminal justice system, and to protect public confidence in the administration of justice.
Announced on June 3, 2008, the strategy seeks to achieve faster, more focused justice by reducing by 30 per cent the provincial average number of court appearances and days needed to complete a criminal case by June 2012. In the interest of transparency, the ministry has made criminal court statistics dating back to 2000 publicly available on the Justice on Target website, and will continue to update the site as the strategy progresses.
Statistics for January 1 to December 31, 2010 are now available on the Justice on Target website. Statistics for the 12 month period of July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011 are expected to be available in late summer 2011.
All Ontario Court of Justice criminal courthouses in the province (including satellite offices) have been formally engaged in the strategy. Local leaders at each site will continue identifying, implementing and sustaining initiatives to reduce criminal court delay.
These local leaders include representatives of all criminal justice participant groups – Judges, Justices of the Peace, Defence Counsel, Police, Corrections staff, Duty Counsel, Legal Aid Ontario and other organizations in addition to ministry leaders such as Crown Attorneys and Court Services staff. Through Justice on Target, these justice participants are now working in a way that respects their independent roles and encourages collaboration.
Throughout 2011-2012, criminal courts across Ontario will see further results as new initiatives are implemented, best practices are shared and cases move through the system faster. This sustained effort to make the criminal justice system more effective will continue past the target date of June 2012.
Legal Aid Ontario
Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is an independent, arm's-length agency funded largely by the Province of Ontario. LAO is responsible for the delivery of legal aid services to low-income Ontarians. LAO's authority for providing these services is the Legal Aid Services Act, 1998.
LAO's mandate includes promoting access to justice throughout Ontario for low-income people by providing consistently high quality legal aid services in a cost-effective and efficient manner. Legal aid protects constitutional and legal rights and ensures fair and equal treatment for low-income people, such as refugee claimants, those facing criminal charges, parents involved in child protection proceedings or seeking custody, access or financial support for themselves or their children.
In September 2009 Ontario announced a Legal Aid transformation plan which included an investment of an additional $150 million over four years in Legal Aid Ontario. This will increase Legal Aid Ontario's base funding by $60 million a year by 2012. As part of this, LAO is moving forward on a number of new initiatives, including:
Legal Aid Ontario has been working with the ministry to modernize the organization to provide services more effectively and efficiently in a manner that improves access to justice and complements the Attorney General's Justice on Target (JOT) strategy, and family services' expansion.
LAO is improving services available in the courthouses including taking legal aid applications, providing status checks and enhancing duty counsel services. Legal aid application sites are now functioning in more than 50 courthouse locations. In 2010-11, 73 per cent of decisions on LAO applications were made within one business day, the goal for 2011-12 is 80 per cent.
Low-income residents across the province can also get legal aid help and information toll-free over the phone (in over 120 languages) and on LAO's revised website.
Throughout 2011-2012 the Ministry of the Attorney General will continue to implement the Aboriginal Justice Strategy, a framework that was developed in consultation with Aboriginal stakeholders and other ministries, aimed at providing equitable, coordinated, and responsive criminal justice services to all Aboriginal people in Ontario.
The Aboriginal Justice Strategy addresses issues such as the over-representation of Aboriginal people as both offenders and victims in the criminal justice system and improves access to justice services.
Ontario currently funds 10 Aboriginal community justice programs in 24 communities across the province, as well as four Gladue Service programs providing services to Aboriginal accused appearing in courts in Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton region, Sarnia, London, Thunder Bay and Manitoulin Court District.
The government also delivers the Aboriginal Court Worker Program where court workers help Aboriginal accused persons navigate the court process in 48 court sites across the province.
The Ministry of the Attorney General's Aboriginal Law Summer Student Program provides law students who are knowledgeable and experienced with Aboriginal communities, and who have a demonstrated interest in Aboriginal Law, with an opportunity to work on Aboriginal law and policy issues.
This summer Aboriginal law students will be placed in the ministries of: Attorney General; Northern Development, Mines and Forestry; Energy, Infrastructure; Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs; Community Safety and Correctional Services; Aboriginal Affairs; and Environment.
Services for Victims
Over the next two years, the ministry will provide two million dollars in new funding for Aboriginal women, children and youth who are victims of violence. In this way, Aboriginal communities will be able to serve the needs of more women who are victims of violent crimes.
In February 2011, Ontario announced the launch of a coordinated, multi-pronged approach to combat human trafficking. The ministry is investing a total of $1.75 million in anti-human trafficking initiatives over the next three years. Projects have been launched to help enforce human trafficking laws, vigorously prosecute offenders and ensure victims have the support they need to begin the healing process.
Future projects will be developed in 2011-12 in consultation with members of the justice and victim services' communities and experts from across the province.
The ministry will also fund a community-based Family Court Support Worker Program to deliver services in family courts across Ontario.
The Family Court Support Worker Program will support victims of domestic violence who are starting a family court case, or who have proceedings before the family court. Among other functions, the Family Court Support Workers will:
In 2011-12, the Victim/Witness Assistance Program will continue to provide support and information throughout the court process to the most vulnerable victims and witnesses of crime, including victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, and hate crimes, as well as elderly victims and the families of homicide victims. The program is available in all 54 court districts across the province. In 2010-11, 93 per cent of clients were satisfied with the Victim/Witness Assistance Program and the support received during the court process.
The ministry is also responsible for providing administrative support to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB), which awards compensation to victims of certain Criminal Code offences. The Board provides a fair, caring and sensitive forum for victims to be heard.
Programs for Vulnerable People
The government provides transfer payment funding to community-based, non-profit organizations to provide Supervised Access services throughout the province within 52 court districts. The objective of these centres is to provide a safe, neutral and child-focused setting for visits and exchanges between a child and a non-custodial parent or other person, such as a grandparent, in cases where there are concerns about the safety of the child and/or custodial parent.
A key measure that demonstrates the performance of this program is:
The ministry also provides and supports a wide array of services for vulnerable adults through community, agency and court-based initiatives. This includes decision-making by the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee for mentally incapable people who have no one else to act on their behalf.
Some measures that demonstrate the performance of this program are:
The ministry is also responsible for the Ontario Human Rights Code and for the arms-length agencies that administer it. The new human rights system was launched in June 2008, and consists of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Legal Support Centre. The new system reinforces Ontario's leadership in human rights and addresses systemic discrimination.
The ministry is responsible for the administration of criminal, family, civil and small claims courts in Ontario. It is committed to providing a modern and professional court service that supports accessible, fair, timely and effective justice. Services include:
Some key measures that show how these services enhance access to justice include:
In 2009 the ministry embarked on a plan to provide family justice in a way that is faster, more affordable and less confrontational.
By summer 2011, the following family justice services will be available province-wide:
Some key measures that show the effectiveness of the family justice improvements include:
Note: New survey introduced in 2010-11, with revised categories for assessing satisfaction.
Integrated Domestic Violence Court
The Ontario Court of Justice is leading the development of a pilot Integrated Domestic Violence Court. The goal is to deliver a holistic and better-informed response to domestic violence. The ministry is working in partnership with the Ontario Court of Justice to develop and implement this program.
The pilot will be based on a “one family – one judge” concept and would allow a single judge to hear one family's criminal and family law cases where the underlying issue is domestic violence. This will enhance communications between family and criminal courts and improve coordination, particularly in domestic violence cases. The pilot will be implemented at the 311 Jarvis Street courthouse in summer 2011.
Ontario is creating a modern, effective and accessible justice system by funding an accelerated new courthouse construction program and investing in existing courthouses.
The Waterloo Region Consolidated Courthouse held a groundbreaking ceremony in June 2010 and construction is ongoing with completion scheduled for winter 2013. The Thunder Bay Consolidated Courthouse groundbreaking took place on February 24, 2011 and completion is planned for fall 2013. Construction is expected to start for the Quinte Consolidated Courthouse and the St. Thomas Consolidated Courthouse in spring 2011.These projects have been developed in conjunction with the Ministry of Infrastructure, Infrastructure Ontario, and the Ontario Realty Corporation.
In response to the Civil Justice Reform Report: Summary of Findings and Recommendations, the ministry has launched a wayfinding initiative to improve access to court services.
The new standards will make courts more user friendly by providing more effective signs and will improve accessibility for all courthouse users. A pilot has been established at the Barrie Courthouse and is expected to be completed in April 2011. Implementation to other locations in each of the ministry's regions is expected to follow.
The ministry continues to work to increase accessibility in Ontario courthouses. In 2009-10 the ministry launched an Accessibility Coordinator function for all full-time court locations. This service will be expanded to satellite and fly-in court locations by spring 2011. In addition, signs informing the public about accessible services and Accessibility Coordinators will be installed in all base courts in spring 2011.
Through its Legal Services Division, the ministry supports the role of the Attorney General as Chief Law Officer of the Crown. It provides the government with expert legal services, advocacy and representation before tribunals and at all levels of court. The percentage of government clients satisfied with services provided by the Legal Service Division was 90.6 per cent in 2010-11. This satisfaction rate is expected to be similar in future years.
The ministry also oversees the Office of the Legislative Counsel which provides drafting and translation services for bills and regulations and advises on legislative matters. It also provides editorial, database management and desktop publishing services related to bills, statutes and regulations.
In 2010-11, 90 per cent of clients were satisfied with the services received from the Office of the Legislative Counsel. Additionally, 98 per cent of source laws were posted on the e-laws website within two business days.
For more information on the Ministry's programs and services, please contact the Ministry of the Attorney General at 1-800-518-7901 or visit www.ontario.ca/attorneygeneral.