The process of implementing the recommendations made in this First Report, will require significant effort from the major participants in the system. A team of dedicated personnel will be needed to develop a detailed implementation plan and to support the justice system leaders in effecting the changes within their spheres of responsibility.
We have very clearly heard the advice that the introduction of Case Management will have greater success and acceptance if the backlog has been cleared up, and the court can begin with a new inventory which will be subjected to the rigour and rules of the new system. Therefore a plan must be put in place, with the allocation of the needed resources, to tackle the backlog. The current downward volume trend of cases filed in the court provides a unique opportunity to phase in the Case Management process while at the same time clearing up the backlog. However, there are not sufficient resources (physical, human, or financial) to attack the backlog simultaneously everywhere across the Province.
Therefore, we have proposed that a dedicated team of individuals drawn from the Court and from senior members of the Bar, if necessary, should be deployed, one Region at a time, to eliminate the backlog. Concurrently, those Regions would be provided with the training and realigned resources necessary to introduce the new system and protocols.
However, the success of this strategy will be highly dependent upon the overlay of a province-wide technology investment in support of the new system. A team of highly-skilled technology experts and justice system experts will be required to design and build the technology infrastructure to support case management and the court process.
The Ontario Government is in the process of creating an integrated justice technology, to be put in place throughout the entire justice system. This is an exciting development. It will involve generating a strategy that will facilitate a telecommunications network, that will promote better information management, that will introduce electronic document transfer and interaction, and that will provide more public access tools.
It is vital that an integral, leading part of government strategy include technology planning and development for the civil justice system, in order to ensure timely and comprehensive implementation of the proposals that we are recommending.
In addition, the number of changes that are contemplated in our recommendations mean that specific, detailed attention must be focused upon the changes that will be required to the Rules of Civil Procedure. Thus it will be necessary to convene a special team of justice experts to draft the necessary Rules changes. These changes will be necessary, in particular, to support case management policies and protocol, and to accommodate the impact of new technologies such as the electronic filing and transfer of information, service of documents and information, the use of "touch screen" technology in kiosk and other settings, video conferencing technology, etc.
The secret to the momentum which has been created by the Civil Justice Review process to date has been the sense of shared participation and responsibility for the management and operation of the system which has been engendered by those responding to it. Similar characteristics will be necessary to carry the day in the Implementation Phase. The composition and membership of the Implementation Team, and of the Working Groups dealing with its sub-projects, should mirror that of the Task Force, in terms of constituencies represented, if not in actual personnel, as much as is practically possible. At a minimum, the implementation process should be overseen by an Implementation Team appointed by the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice and the Attorney General, which includes members of the Public and representatives of the Judiciary, the Bar and the Ministry.
It is vitally important that dedicated resources be allocated for the enormous planning which will be required leading up to and in the course of the Implementation Phase. Successful implementation will strongly depend upon such an allocation of dedicated resources. It will also depend upon the committed participation of representatives from the major constituencies about the system -- the Bench, the Bar, Courts Administration and the Public, and upon their dedication to withstand the planning cycle.
The following is an outline of the various issues and specific projects which must be addressed during the implementation phase. They serve to highlight the significance and extent of the change contemplated by our proposals:
- costs/investments required
- software applications: do we develop our own system or acquire one from a supplier?
- training for staff and judges
- compatibility of hardware with Government and Ministry standards
- timeframe and approach to installation and software application development
- development of video technology process and activities
Budgeting and Approvals
- analysis of costs for each project
- determination of investment costs, ongoing operating costs and potential for realignment
- central agency approvals for funds, workforce impacts and technology requirements
- determination of Federal Government participation in financing changes
Human Resources Strategy
- determination of and planning for training needs
- development of new job descriptions
- workforce plan in collaboration with employee groups
- restructuring of courts administration organization to support new processes
- compatibility with human resources policies such as redeployment, surplus assignments, employment equity, etc.
- analysis of changes required to existing Rules of Civil Procedure to accommodate new requirements
- need for quick turnaround on Rules and necessary approvals
- establish special team dedicated to drafting new Rules
- schedule of implementation
- educational tools to ensure comprehensive understanding of new procedures, time standards, etc.
Communication/ Public Education Strategy
- plan to advise public and justice community of changes
- development of plain language materials for public that explain dispute resolution process
- support-kits for public accessing court services for first time
- user-friendly access to information and processing of disputes
- support and education responsibilities for public participants in Courts Management Advisory Committees
- development of Region-by-Region plans for backlog elimination
- identification and assignment of resources
- determination of time backlog
Introduction of Case Management
- development of plans by Region to introduce new processes and team concept
- education of Public, Bar and Bench
- availability of technology, trained staff and new Rules
- effective cost measures
- resources for supervised access, mediation, assessments, and all counselling
- education for the Public (including early education in the schools), the Bar, the Bench, and Administrative Staff
- information services about court proceedings in each courthouse
- legal aid certificates regarding specialized practitioners
- adequate facilities for Northern Ontario
- resolution-focused process piloted in proposed sites
- changes to the Originating Notice of Application
- early judicial intervention including determination of whether a summary process is required
- availability of Alternative Dispute Resolution resources under judicial supervision
- availability of the full range of electronic, video and tele-conferencing technology, especially in Northern Ontario
- options for purely uncontested divorces at low-cost without judicial intervention
- changes to the Family Support Plan
- continued monitoring of implementation issues
The timeline for completion of the implementation plan will be contingent upon the timeline for approvals of the directions and resource requirements necessary to carry out the project. We estimate that establishment of the Implementation Team and recruitment of its project director could be achieved by June 1995. An overall project plan and timeframe will need to be finalized in a manner that prioritizes the required actions and resources necessary for implementation.
Full implementation across the province may require several years, depending upon the availability of resources to finance and staff the change. We are suggesting 5-7 years.
In relation to the Family Process, we recommend that changes be introduced in conjunction with the timeframes and implementation plans for the expansion of the Unified Family Court.
Ultimately, we believe that planning and implementation should begin as quickly as possible, and not await release of the Final Report. This will sustain the support and enthusiasm of the participants in the system and ensure that the advantages of resource realignment are achieved. We believe that the recommendations in this Report will form the basis of recommendations in the Final Report.
We recommend that a dedicated implementation team be established to work with and assist the Civil Justice Review in developing and executing a plan for the implementation of the recommendations contained in this First Report. The team should be comprised of representatives from the Judiciary, the Bar, the Ministry and the Public.
We propose that the Implementation Team function, as well, through sub-working groups which will have responsibility for particular areas of the task and will report to the Implementation Team and to the Review itself. Such working groups should be formed to deal with the areas of case management, technology, the rules, and costs, and with such other matters as the Review and the Implementation Team may determine advisable.
The committee which we have recommended be created to examine the issue of an unified management, administration and budgetary model for the justice system should be a separate committee because of its nature.