Ministry of Government Services

Office Snapshot

  • Location: Toronto
  • Lawyers: 48
  • Articling Students: 3
  • Summer Law Students: 2
  • Types of Law: Access & Privacy, Administrative, Commercial, Contract, Corporate, Corporate Governance, Human Rights, Insurance, Labour & Employment, Pensions, Real Estate, Real Property

Who we are

The Ministry of Government Services (MGS) plays a very important role in the delivery of government services to the people of Ontario and is responsible for the government’s workforce, procurement and technology resources. 

The Ministry’s Legal Services Branch is comprised of practice groups that provide legal advice to MGS program areas and other client groups throughout government. The work of the Branch is varied and includes: 

  • Representing the Crown as the employer by providing labour relations and employment law services and advice to ministries and Crown agencies 
  • Providing legal and strategic advice in commercial matters, with an emphasis on public sector procurement  
  • Providing access and privacy law advice across government
  • Providing advice to ServiceOntario, primarily in the area of regulatory law, administrative law, corporate law, real estate law and vital statistics registration.

With almost 50 litigators and solicitors practicing in a wide range of areas, we offer a diverse, distinct and dynamic experience for students. 

What we do

Labour Practice Group

The Labour Practice Group (LPG) is responsible for providing strategic advice and representation to ministries across government and various Crown agencies regarding a wide array of labour relations and employment law issues including human rights (e.g. discrimination, harassment and the duty to accommodate), health and safety, and disciplinary responses.

Branch counsel:

  • Represent the Crown as the employer in litigation before a range of administrative tribunals, such as the Grievance Settlement Board, the Public Service Grievance Board, the Ontario Labour Relations Board, and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
  • Argue cases resulting in landmark decisions on significant labour and employment law questions
  • Are responsible for the general court litigation and judicial review applications carried on or supervised by the Branch
  • Represent the Government at all levels of courts, including the Court of Appeal of Ontario and the Supreme Court of Canada
  • Provide strategic legal support during collective bargaining and advice on corporate policy responses to material changes in the law.

The LPG has earned a reputation for a proactive and principled approach to managing challenging labour relations issues. As the complexity of the Ontario Public Service’s labour and employment issues have increased over time, the LPG has responded by adopting a number of innovative and cutting edge strategies designed to address workplace issues in a proactive and sustainable manner.

Counsel at the LPG also play an active role in helping their clients develop practical and effective solutions to non-legal management issues. This expanded role is consistent with the belief at the LPG that sound labour relations require both legal and non-legal problem solving. The LPG has established itself as a leading labour law office by providing invaluable advice and support for managers and senior decision makers at all levels of government across the province.

Employment Law and Governance Group

The Employment Law and Governance Group is responsible for providing advice relating to employment, labour and pension law.  This group also provides legal services primarily to MGS in public law and governance matters. This group’s primary responsibilities include:

  • Advice and support to MGS, the Public Service Commission and the Centre for Leadership and Learning in employment matters at the deputy minister and the senior management levels across the OPS
  • Advice on the Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006, and development of statutory amendments and regulations under this Act
  • Support and labour relations advice to the corporate employer relating to collective agreement implementation and other labour and employment matters
  • Advice on matters of public sector/corporate governance, public appointments, agency establishment and accountability, “machinery of government” issues and government advertising strategic legal advice and support to all ministries and the Public Service Commission in the area of conflict of interest, both in-service and post-service, and with respect to political activity.

Business, Regulatory and Information Group

The Business, Regulatory and Information Group (BRIG) provides legal services to program area clients both within MGS and across government. The BRIG is comprised of three sub-groups with a wide range of expertise:

1) The Commercial Law Group is made up of legal counsel that specialize in contract and corporate/commercial law, with an emphasis on information technology, procurement and contract negotiation and administration. This group is responsible for:

  • Providing strategic legal advice to clients in MGS, including the Corporate Chief Information Officer, Ontario Shared Services, ServiceOntario, Information Technology Services (ITS), the Centre for Leadership, and, more broadly, to the Legislative Assembly and other ministries
  • Providing insurance law advice relating to the Government of Ontario’s insurance programs and advice concerning the indemnity and insurance provisions in government contracts and agreements.

This Group is acknowledged as leaders within the field of procurement and commercial contracting and I &IT and prides itself in practical, solution-oriented advice to clients.

2) The Access and Privacy Law Group:

  • Provides corporate legal advice to MGS, government ministries and certain government agencies on access to information, information management and privacy law
  • Provides legal support to the operations and policy work of the Office of the Corporate Chief Information and Privacy Officer (OCIPO), and assists the OCIPO to provide strategic operational and policy advice to program areas across the government
  • Represents MGS and other government ministries and agencies in litigation before the Information and Privacy Commission of Ontario
  • Provides support to the government in legislative drafting that involves access to information or privacy matters.

3) The ServiceOntario Group provides legal support to the ServiceOntario division of MGS through day-to-day strategic advice related to compliance with the legislation governing business registration, personal property security registration, real property registration and vital event registration (births, adoptions, deaths, marriages and changes of name).  This group deals with matters ranging from legislative drafting to acting as a tribunal under some of the statutes administered by MGS.

Our major cases

Counsel in the Labour Practice Group have litigated many cases before various tribunals, including the GSB, PSGB, Human Rights Tribunal and the WSIAT, as well as at all levels of the Courts.  For example, the LPG has:

  • Upheld the dismissal of correctional officers who used excessive use of force against an inmate
  • Participated in an innovative dispute resolution process to deal with a large number of discrimination and harassment grievances filed by employees
  • Successfully argued at the Supreme Court of Canada that a criminal conviction cannot be re-litigated at a grievance arbitration, as it would amount to an abuse of process.

The Business, Regulatory and Information Group has conducted many complex commercial transactions and helps the government buy a wide variety of goods and services (everything from ice cream to sophisticated IT systems).  Counsel have assisted in the development and implementation of a fraud strategy to combat real estate fraud, which included drafting statutory amendments, acting as the tribunal that makes determinations concerning fraud and awarding compensation to victims of fraud.

What students do

Articling and summer law students are provided with the opportunity to work in two diverse areas of the law.  Students rotate through the Labour Practice Group/Employment Law and Governance Group and the Business, Regulatory Information Group.

1) Labour Practice Group/Employment Law and Governance Group

Students participate in a high-volume management-side labour and employment law practice.  Students assist counsel in preparing for appearances before boards, tribunals and courts and attend with counsel at hearings and mediations.  They also conduct research and writing in support of the legal services and advice provided by branch counsel to senior officials and staff of MGS, other ministries, agencies, boards and commissions.

2) Business, Regulatory and Information Group

Students assist counsel on a wide variety of commercial matters, including drafting and reviewing procurement and contract documents, and participate in negotiations with vendors of goods and services, with an emphasis on information technology products, services and licensing.  They conduct research and writing on relevant areas of law, including commercial, IT, procurement and IP law, and statutory interpretation.  Students also assist privacy law counsel in their provision of access and privacy law advice.  In addition, students assist ServiceOntario lawyers in conducting cases before tribunals and the development of regulations and legislation.

Why choose us

"My articling rotations provided me with exposure to both barrister and solicitor work, a great balance to help understand how government lawyers represent the Crown and how they lend to the business operations within the government. The work has been extremely interesting, challenging and often involves cutting edge areas of law. Counsel had a sincere interest in my success and provided valuable feedback to further my legal skills, while supporting my professional goals by assigning me work in areas of personal interest." – Former Articling Student

Students who work in MGS are provided with a diverse and rewarding experience.  By working with both solicitors and litigators, students are exposed to a wide-range of legal issues.  The rotation provides students with an opportunity to experience the variety of legal work available in the public sector. 

MGS is proud of its collegial environment. The culture at MGS is driven by the exchange of ideas.  All counsel, from the most senior to the most junior, adhere to an open-door policy to ensure students are fully supported as they embark on their legal careers.  Students are encouraged to work independently but are provided the guidance and direction of strong mentors and principals.

Contact us

ARTICLING STUDENT PROGRAM:
Jennifer Richards
Counsel, MGS, Labour Practice Group
jennifer.richards1@ontario.ca
416-325-9403

SUMMER STUDENT PROGRAM:
Susan Munn
Counsel, MGS, Labour Practice Group
susan.munn@ontario.ca
416-325-9392