Court Services Division
Ministry of the Attorney General
This Annual Report sets out the activities of the Court Services Division during fiscal year 2013-14. These activities fulfill what is now the division’s dual mandate; it continues to provide high quality court services as required by the goals enshrined in the Courts of Justice Act while, at the same time, continuing to move forward with its multi-year modernization plan to build the court service of the future.
The ministry is committed to the modernization of its businesses and services in order to meet the growth in demand for expanded and online services and to ensure equitable access to justice. The Court Services Division comprises over half of the ministry’s resources and its success in implementing its modernization plan is key to that of the ministry. We have made a good start on this plan and I am proud of the achievements set out in this report.
Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of meeting many staff members across the province through a series of Employee Engagement Town Hall sessions. The Town Hall Series took place across the province from March to June 2013. It brought together staff from all divisions, at every level, to celebrate achievements, highlight best practices, share experiences and suggest areas for improvement. These Town Hall sessions provided staff with an opportunity to explore how all employees can contribute to providing efficient service to the public, as well as celebrate achievements, highlight best practices, and suggest areas for improvement. I look forward to working with more staff members across the province at the upcoming regional roundtables.
We have thought carefully about our approach to modernization. Like many public and private sector organizations, we believe that the key to successful modernization is to entrench a culture of innovation in the ministry. This means that we must encourage, recognize and reward innovation, that we must intensify our capacity to be a learning organization and that we need to pay attention to supporting the adjustment to change. You can anticipate hearing more about our modernization initiatives as they are developed and implemented.
I would like to thank Lynne Wagner, Assistant Deputy Attorney General of the Court Services Division, and her staff and managers, for their enthusiasm, creativity and commitment to both everyday service delivery and to the court services modernization agenda. These are challenging and exciting times for the ministry and I am optimistic about what we can accomplish over the next few years.
Deputy Attorney General
I am pleased to release the Court Services Division Annual Report for the April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014 fiscal year. Our division has worked tirelessly over the past year to ensure high-quality justice services are provided to the public. As the assistant deputy attorney general of Court Services Division, I am very pleased by the results that we have achieved.
The Ministry of the Attorney General launched its strategic plan in fall 2013. Court Services Division is now in the process of drafting a divisional strategic plan, to be released in 2014-15, that mirrors and supports the vision, mission and values of the ministry’s strategic plan, and that will form the foundation of our future operational and business planning.
Court modernization initiatives continued in 2013-14 with a focus on incremental change in modernizing service delivery that would have a high impact on our staff, our clients and partners. The division is well on its way to implementing criminal court e-orders and to launching a centralized court interpreter scheduling tool in ministry court locations provincewide by May 2014. The division has now completed the implementation of digital recording devices and on June 9, 2014, will implement a new model of court transcript production. Find out more about these initiatives and others as you read through this report.
La Division est également fière de continuer à promouvoir les droits linguistiques des francophones dans le système judiciaire, notamment en coprésidant le comité directeur de mise en oeuvre chargé de se pencher et de donner des conseils sur les recommandations énoncées dans le rapport Accès à la justice en français.
Thank you to all staff in the division who work diligently across the province to support the commitment of the ministry to provide high-quality services to the people of Ontario, modernize court services, and enhance access to justice.
Assistant Deputy Attorney General
Court Services Division
The Ministry of the Attorney General is responsible for administering justice in Ontario. Within the ministry, the Court Services Division is responsible for the administration of the courts.
The division’s mission is to provide a modern and professional court service that supports accessible, fair, timely and effective justice services.
In fall 2013, the Ministry of the Attorney General released a new strategic plan covering the period 2014 to 2019. Court Services Division is in the process of developing a divisional strategic plan to support the vision, mission and values of the ministry plan. An outline of the ministry priorities and strategic goals contained in the new strategic plan is noted below.
The Courts of Justice Act sets out important goals for the administration of the courts. Section 71 of the act states:
The administration of the courts shall be carried on so as to:
All of the division’s activities are designed to fulfill these goals. This annual report responds to the division’s legislative obligation to be publically accountable for its progress made each year to meet them.
Court Services Division staff provide court office services in 165 court locations across the province, including scheduling court cases at the direction of the judiciary, providing information and counter services to the public, entering data in court case management systems and maintaining court records and files.
The division provides administrative support to all judicial officers of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice. It also provides courtroom support through court clerk and registrars, court reporters, court services officers and interpreters, and manages the jury system.
Mandatory civil mediation is part of the civil court process in Ottawa, Toronto and Windsor. Family mediation services, mandatory information programs and information and referral co-ordinators are provided by external service providers at all court locations that hear family cases throughout Ontario. Court Services Division manages the contracts for the delivery of mediation and information services in these courts, through procurement and oversight of the providers.
The assistant deputy attorney general of the Court Services Division oversees the administration of Ontario’s courts and is responsible for legislative, regulatory and operational policy and program development related to improving the court system.
For the purpose of providing court services, the division is organized into seven administrative regions.
Each region is responsible for:
Each region is managed by a director of court operations who reports to the assistant deputy attorney general of the Court Services Division.
Corporate directors manage each of the division’s branches, including: Corporate Planning Branch, Divisional Support Branch, Civil Policy and Programs Branch, Criminal/Provincial Offences Act Policy and Programs Branch, and Family Policy and Programs Branch. Each director reports to the assistant deputy attorney general.
The Corporate Planning Branch is responsible for:
The Divisional Support Branch is responsible for:
The Civil Policy and Programs Branch is responsible for:
The Criminal/Provincial Offences Act Policy and Programs Branch is responsible for:
The Family Policy and Programs Branch is responsible for:
Ontario’s Courts of Justice Act provides the legislative framework for the province’s court structure. The act establishes the jurisdiction of each of the province’s three courts: the Court of Appeal for Ontario, the Superior Court of Justice, and the Ontario Court of Justice.
The Court of Appeal for Ontario is the highest court in the province. The Court of Appeal for Ontario hears:
The Court of Appeal for Ontario sits in Toronto at Osgoode Hall. At the end of 2013, the Court was composed of the Chief Justice of Ontario, the Honourable Warren K. Winkler; the Associate Chief Justice of Ontario, the Honourable Alexandra H. Hoy; 20 full-time judges; and six supernumerary judges. Chief Justice Winkler retired from the Court of Appeal on December 9, 2013, after having served as chief justice of Ontario for more than six years. Associate Chief Justice Hoy was appointed associate chief justice of Ontario on June 2, 2013, replacing the Honourable Dennis O’Connor who retired from the Court at the end of December, 2012.
Appeals are heard by a panel of three or five judges. The Supreme Court of Canada hears appeals from less than three per cent of the Court of Appeal’s judgments. Therefore, the Court of Appeal is for practical purposes the last avenue of appeal for most Ontario litigants.
“The Court of Appeal is Ontario’s highest court and plays a unique role within our legal system. In most instances, it offers the final avenue of appeal for litigants who have already appeared before one of Ontario’s courts or tribunals. However, it is also one institution among the many that share a common purpose of supporting Ontario’s justice system, a system which is a collaborative enterprise, engaging the efforts of a broad array of individuals and organizations, including judges, lawyers, administrators, as well as enforcement, adjudicative and community agencies”
-The Honourable Warren K. Winkler
Chief Justice of Ontario 2007-2013
The Superior Court of Justice hears:
The Superior Court of Justice sits in 50 court locations in Ontario. The Court is led by Chief Justice Heather J. Smith. In June 2013, Justice Frank Marrocco was appointed associate chief justice for the Superior Court of Justice, replacing the Honourable J. Douglas Cunningham, who retired from the Court in September 2012. The chief justice has the statutory authority to direct and supervise the sittings of the Superior Court as well as the assignment of judicial duties. These powers are delegated, subject to the direction of the chief justice, to eight regional senior judges to exercise in their respective regions. In turn, the regional senior judges may designate local administrative or lead judges to assign and schedule cases at certain court sites. The senior judge of the family court of the Superior Court of Justice advises the chief justice on specific matters related to family justice throughout the province and performs other duties relating to the family court as assigned by the chief justice. In December 2013, Justice George Czutrin was appointed the senior judge of the family court, succeeding Justice John Harper, who held this position from September 2010 until November 2013.
Small Claims Court is another branch of the Superior Court of Justice. The Court hears civil actions for claims up to $25,000. Frequently referred to as the “people’s court,” Small Claims Court offers streamlined procedures and affordable access to justice, and hears almost half of all the civil proceedings in the province. Small Claims Court is primarily presided over by senior lawyers appointed to serve as deputy judges. There are also a small number of provincial judges of the Small Claims Court.
“Serving the public and providing fair, timely and affordable access to justice is the Superior Court of Justice’s foremost priority. And the Court’s collaborative relationship with the Ministry of the Attorney General and, in particular, Court Services Division is essential to fulfilling this objective. Every day, the dedicated and professional Court Services Staff provide critical support to our judges. Working together, the Court and Court Services Division have taken great strides in enhancing access to justice. I look forward to further collaboration and achievement in the years ahead.”
-The Honourable Heather J. Smith
Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario
All criminal cases are commenced in the Ontario Court of Justice and over 95 per cent of these cases are completed in this Court. Ontario Court judges and justices of the peace sit in 135 locations across the province.
Judges of the Court hear:
Justices of the peace hear:
The Court is led by Chief Justice Annemarie E. Bonkalo. Associate Chief Justice Faith Finnestad and Associate Chief Justice Lise Maisonneuve provide support to the chief justice and have special delegated responsibilities as well as those set out by statute. For the purposes of judicial administration of the Ontario Court of Justice, the province is divided into seven geographic regions, each of which has a regional senior judge and a regional senior justice of the peace. Across the province, local administrative judges and justices of the peace assist the regional senior judges and regional senior justices of the peace, respectively.
“The Ontario Court of Justice works in partnership with our colleagues from the Court Services Division and the many municipal court administrations. Our effectiveness in presiding over criminal, family and provincial offence matters is supported by the professionalism, commitment, expertise and diligence of these administrators. On behalf of the 726 judicial officials of our Court, I extend our sincerest thanks to the staff and management who work with us each day.”
-The Honourable Annemarie E. Bonkalo
Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice
More statistics about activity in the Superior Court of Justice are available at: http://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/news/annual-reports/ and in the Ontario court of Justice at: http://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/statistics/
Judicial Complement (as of March 31, 2014)
|Court of Appeal for Ontario||Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario||1|
|Associate Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario||1|
|Judges of the Court of Appeal for Ontario (Full-time)||18|
|Judges of the Court of Appeal for Ontario (Supernumerary)||8|
|Superior Court of Justice||Judges of the Superior Court of Justice (Full-time)||232|
|Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice||1|
|Associate Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice||1|
|Senior Judge of the Family Court||1|
|Judges of the Superior Court of Justice (Supernumerary)||78|
|Judges of the Small Claims Court (Part-time)||2|
|Deputy Judges of the Small Claims Court||365|
|Traditional Masters (Part-time)||2|
|Case Management Masters||16|
|Ontario Court of Justice||Judges of the Ontario Court of Justice (Full-time)||281|
|Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice||1|
|Associate Chief Justice and the Associate Chief Justice Co-ordinator of Justices of the Peace of the Ontario Court of Justice||2|
|Judges of the Ontario Court of Justice (per diem)||49|
|Justices of the Peace (Full-time)||345|
|Justice of the Peace (per diem)||69|
The division is a true partnership between corporate branches, regional offices and local courts and this is demonstrated by the ongoing work of the subject matter operational and policy tables. These tables meet regularly to foster communication, brainstorm and develop innovative ideas and encourage feedback and collaboration as new ideas are developed. The operational and technical tables are also one of the main vehicles for allowing corporate staff to hear from local court staff about new challenges, changes to process and local innovation.
All of the projects highlighted below were successful because of the unique blend of policy, program and operational expertise that court staff across the province bring together to deliver the highest quality of justice.
The division is in its second year of implementing a multi-year plan for court services modernization. The division’s approach to modernization is to:
Implementation of the division’s modernization plan is significantly supported by the ministry’s Innovation Office, established in 2012. Reporting to the associate deputy attorney general, the Innovation Office is preparing the ministry for innovation by coordinating initiatives and overarching portfolio strategies, managing governance processes, creating innovative opportunities, building organizational capacity for project management and change management and developing new business models. The identification and implementation of specific modernization initiatives in Court Services Division depends on the operational expertise of staff in its head office and even more on court staff in courthouses across the province. The support the division has received from the Innovation Office has considerably assisted and accelerated the implementation of our modernization initiatives and created capacity in the division by letting it focus on its core strengths. This has been a very successful partnership.
The following were our modernization achievements this year.
A criminal practice area priority project in 2013-14 was to support the Ontario Court of Justice’s pilot, evaluation and provincewide implementation of the electronic in-court production of the three most common criminal court orders: Judicial Interim Release Orders (JIROs, or ‘bail papers’), adult probation and conditional sentence orders and youth probation orders.
E-orders are created on screen using an electronic form, printed on multi-functional devices and signed in the courtroom. They are then shared electronically with justice partners, such as police, probation and victim services. This significantly expedited the production of court orders and the ability to distribute them electronically is expected to save a million sheets of paper a year.
The corporate project team worked closely with the Office of the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, and in particular with Associate Chief Justice Lise Maisonneuve to deliver this initiative. Regional leads for each of the Ontario Court of Justice seven regions also worked in close cooperation with regional senior judges and justices of the peace. It is expected that provincewide implementation will be substantially completed by July 2014.
The division will consider opportunities to build on the e-orders success and new creative uses for multi-functional devices now installed in courtrooms across the province.
The ministry developed an electronic family order production tool to enable court staff to more quickly create court orders. The tool is an interactive form that includes:
Court Services Division is working on an updated version of the tool that will assist parties and their lawyers to quickly and accurately prepare minutes of settlement and convert them into final orders for review by a judge. The updated tool will be publicly available on the ministry website.
A pilot focused on enhancing the processing of joint and simple divorces was established in Toronto’s Superior Court of Justice family office beginning in August 2013. Participating staff:
It is estimated that divorce processing times will ultimately be reduced for joint and simple divorces in Toronto by several weeks. The division is continuing to explore opportunities for expansion of this pilot program and the use of technology to reduce divorce processing time.
Until recently, litigants, the bar, the media and the public could only obtain next day court event information from the courthouse, either by phone or in person. Working with the Offices of the Chief Justices, the division now has next day court dockets available to the public online. This information is posted the afternoon before a court appearance and is available for 24 hours. The court lists are available at www.ontariocourtdates.ca.
A web-based recording management system (RMS) was successfully implemented across the province in spring 2013 to standardize the management and tracking of transcript orders. RMS Phase Two was developed with enhancements that include the ability to manage and track access to audio orders, generate reports, standardize order forms and more. Phase Two was implemented beginning in February 2014 and the final phase will be implemented in June 2014.
In fall 2013, the ministry launched the Ideas and Innovation Fund for staff to share their ideas about how the ministry can streamline processes, increase productivity and improve the way we do business. Of the 164 submissions received, Court Services Division staff contributed 65 ideas. Of the 30 submissions that were chosen to move to level two, half of them were from CSD. This level of response shows the commitment and dedication of staff in the division to provide the best public services.
It is expected that the final submissions that will be chosen to move forward to implementation will be chosen by spring 2014.
Court Services Division joined the Interministerial Mental Health and Justice Committee, which offers a forum for ongoing discussions about various mental health issues affecting the justice system. This committee is comprised of officials from the Ministry of the Attorney General, the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Ministry of Children and Youth Services, and Ministry of Community and Social Services.
The division is working collaboratively with colleagues in the Criminal Law Division and partner ministries to ensure timelier and better coordinated access to mental health assessments for accused persons across the province. This work is part of the division’s efforts to respond to and implement the coroner jury’s recommendations following the G.A. Inquest into the death of a young person in custody awaiting a mental health assessment.
First announced in 2008, Justice on Target (JOT) is the Province’s strategy to reduce delay in Ontario’s criminal courts. Ontario is achieving more timely and effective justice services by targeting reductions in the provincial average number of days and court appearances needed to complete a criminal case.
Court staff play an integral role in local and regional leadership teams through collaboration with justice participants, supporting judicial officials and providing critical statistics and data to support JOT’s evidence-based approach to addressing delay in the criminal courts.
JOT initiated a new phase and focus to their work in 2012, with a revised set of metrics and a new commitment to focus on bail issues. Court Services Division continues to support the strategy as it builds on these achievements, with new areas of focus and a refined approach to measuring progress.
While bail has been identified as one area of focus moving forward, court staff and other local leaders at every criminal court site continue to identify, implement and sustain initiatives to reduce criminal court delay.
A number of facilities projects were completed across the province in support of the JOT objective of creating ways for our justice participants to work more collaboratively. In Cochrane, a new Legal Aid Office was built to speed up the applications process. In Windsor, two new offices were created for duty counsel. Various projects were also completed in Toronto: at 401 Bay Street, 60 Queen Street and 444 Yonge Street, the Crown attorney offices were reconfigured and at 1000 Finch Avenue, the duty counsel office was expanded.
A number of projects are also underway to install video conferencing and “whisper rooms” in courtrooms across the province.
Ongoing developments related to the Justice on Target initiative can be found at www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/jot.
The division continued to co-chair a Weekend and Statutory Holiday (WASH) Court Working Group with the Criminal Law Division. The Ontario Court of Justice and key justice partners from the Criminal Lawyers Association, Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, Ontario Provincial Police, Victims and Vulnerable Persons Division, Bail Supervision Program, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and Legal Aid Ontario participate in the working group. A final draft report on best practices in the province’s WASH courts and a draft Surety Information Package was finalized and the recommendations shared with the JOT team to integrate into the implementation of their Bail Expert Panel.
The Civil Rules Committee is a statutory committee composed of representatives from the judiciary, the bar and the Ministry of the Attorney General. The committee has jurisdiction to make rules regarding procedures in all civil proceedings, including both the Superior Court of Justice and the Small Claims Court. Associate Chief Justice Alexandra Hoy is the Chair of the Civil Rules Committee.
Rule changes effective January 1, 2014 include amendments to:
Rule changes scheduled to come into effect on July 1, 2014 include amendments that will:
The Family Rules Committee is a statutory committee composed of representatives of the judiciary, the bar and the Ministry of the Attorney General, with jurisdiction to make rules regarding procedures in Ontario’s family courts. The committee is chaired by the Honourable May Lou Benotto of the Court of Appeal for Ontario.
In 2013, the Family Rules Committee made the following changes:
Since fall 2011, families across the province have had access to:
These services are delivered by service providers who were successful bidders through a competitive procurement process. The division provides oversight to these providers, policy support, and financial accountability for these contracts. All service contracts were set to expire March 31, 2014.
In 2013-14, a Request for Proposal (RFP) to obtain new contracts for these services for three years (starting April 1, 2014) with two one-year options to extend on the same terms was issued. With the support and assistance of both the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice, new contracts were in place for all locations by the end of the fiscal year.
After an evaluation demonstrated success of a pilot project with the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) to centralize the processing of writs of seizure and sale and notices of garnishment and the scheduling of Notices of Default proceedings, the division expanded the partnership to include all family courts in Ontario. Now two court clerks located at the FRO in Toronto issue writs, notices of garnishments and schedule Notices of Default proceedings for all FRO cases. Court Services Division continues to work closely with the FRO to consider further advance in the enforcement of support orders.
The division is committed to improving accessibility in court services for people with disabilities. New requirements under the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act apply to the ministry beginning January 1, 2013 and January 1, 2014. The ministry must make accessibility a regular part of finding, hiring and supporting employees with disabilities. The ministry must also provide accessible formats and communications supports as quickly as possible to people with disabilities when someone asks. These requirements under the IASR build on previously existing ministry policies and practices.
Management and staff are required to complete training about these new requirements.
Courthouse accessibility coordinators are fundamental to the delivery of accessible services and have dealt with a range of disability-related accommodation requests, such as sign language interpretation, assistive listening devices, real-time captioning, general assistance with filing documents, and assistance with moving around courthouses.
The Courts Accessibility Subcommittee continued to meet regularly to provide advice about accessibility priorities and plans for the division. This committee is co-chaired by a regional director and a manager of court operations and includes representatives from divisional branches, regions, Victims and Vulnerable Persons Division, Criminal Law Division, and Provincial Offences Act (POA) municipal court partners.
In 2013-14, the division completed a number of specific accessibility initiatives.
The division completed the implementation of assistive listening devices (ALDs) across all courthouses. The ALDs are available upon request for all court users and ministry clients, including parties of court proceedings, lawyers, judges, jurors, and witnesses. Over 500 court staff were trained on setting up the devices. Information has been posted on the ministry’s website and signs are in place in courthouses to communicate the availability of ALDs so that people know that they can be requested.
The ministry opened three courthouses in 2013-14: Kitchener (April 2013), Belleville (August 2013), and St. Thomas (March 2014).
These courthouses are accessible to people with disabilities and include barrier-free access to public spaces, public counters, courtrooms, jury boxes, witness boxes, and spectator areas; and more advanced accessibility features, such as height adjustable lecterns. Several facilities projects focused on improving courtroom accessibility. Some examples include: accessible counter renovations at various court locations; retrofits to judicial chambers in Timmins and Brampton; modified accessible jury boxes at the Durham and Brampton Courthouses; and accessible judge’s daises implemented at the St. Catharines and Fort Frances Courthouse. New signs were installed in 10 courthouses which include accessibility features such as braille, tactile text and good contrast to enhance visibility. These are just a selection of accessibility improvements made to our courthouses.
Building on last year’s achievements, the division continued its work on making improvements to the accessible format and design of key documents, such as some Small Claims Court forms. As well, in 2010-11 Legal Aid Ontario, in collaboration with the division’s Family Policy and Programs Branch, launched the Family Law Information Program (FLIP). The FLIP is based on the ministry’s Mandatory Information Program (MIP) script. In 2013-14, the MIP DVD was translated into sign language and closed captioning benefiting clients who are Deaf or have a hearing loss. The DVD is available to people with disabilities and others who may face barriers in attending the MIP sessions in-person.
The assistant deputy attorney general continues to co-chair the Ontario Courts Accessibility Committee with Justice Janet Simmons of the Court of Appeal. This committee includes representatives of the judiciary, bar, ministry and the disability community. Participation on this committee is one of the ways the division stays engaged with stakeholders with a particular interest in improving the accessibility of the court system.
The division continues to focus on French Language Services (FLS) and has been participating for the last number of years in the Annual Justice Sector Francophone Stakeholders’ Meetings as well as in the justice sector ministries’ strategic planning process to better understand the needs of French-speaking clients. The division continues to co-chair and participate in the French Language Services Bench and Bar Response Steering Committee. This committee was established in the spring of 2013 with a two-year mandate to review and advise on the recommendations of the Access to Justice in French / Access à la justice en français report. The report focuses on the steps necessary to ensure that French speakers have effective access to justice in French in Ontario.
The Steering Committee and its related work groups and subcommittees have been actively moving forward with the important recommendations for the justice system made in the report, including providing FLS based on the concept of active offer, raising awareness of French language rights, and ensuring that French-speaking Ontarians are able to access their language rights in our courts in a timely and cost-effective way.
In response to a report recommendation, Court Services Division appointed an FLS Coordinator for the division who has taken the lead in ensuring that the division’s handling of French language matters encourages appropriate access to the courts and confidence in the administration of justice.
Educational and training materials and tools have been developed by the Court Services Division FLS Coordinator, the FLS team and internal committees to assist staff in providing high-quality services to the public. For example, mini-lexicons with appropriate French terminology have been created for use by staff when serving French-speaking clients and information brochures on language rights in the court process have been created and widely distributed.
Court interpreting is a highly skilled profession and the Court Services Division continues to foster relationships in order to support the profession and share information and best practices. In 2013-14, the division focused on the recruitment and testing of high demand languages. The division also continued to offer test preparation classes to supplement online test preparation materials.
In 2013-14, following an open procurement process, a new vendor was selected to provide court interpreter test marking services.
In September 2013, the division implemented the first phase of the new Court Interpreter SharePoint Tool which creates efficiencies in the way courts view the interpreter registry and schedule interpreters. The new registry is used by over 500 staff in the Ministry of the Attorney General and our municipal court partners. It has allowed court staff to view the interpreter registry online and has increased functionality in searching and filtering interpreters on the registry. Phase Two is planned for spring 2014 and will include the ability to view interpreter availability and schedule interpreters into online calendars.
To ensure continuous improvement of the court interpreter program, the division continues to provide opportunities to expand the use of video and audio technology in the provision of remote interpretation.
In early 2013, following a consultation process with the judiciary and Ryerson University, the ministry completed filming an updated Juror Orientation Video called “Jury Duty and You”. The video will be released in summer 2014 and provides helpful information to individuals summoned for jury duty.
In fall 2013, the ministry developed a series of tweets that were sent out from the ministry’s Twitter account to promote awareness of the jury process. The tweets provided general information regarding the jury process and links to the ministry’s jury duty web page. The response from the public to our new form of social media has been positive.
The division is represented on the Juries Review Implementation Committee to address the recommendations outlined in the Honourable Frank Iacobucci’s report, First Nations Representation on Ontario Juries, which can be found online at http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/about/pubs/default.asp#iacobucci.
The Committee, co-chaired by Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and Assistant Deputy Attorney General Irwin Glasberg, meets regularly and is looking at innovative ways to address First Nation representation on Ontario juries.
As one of the courts modernization initiatives, in 2013-14, the division launched a new Court and Client Representative job description for use by managers across the province. This job description supports the administration of the courts by having court staff perform both in-court and out-of-court duties, as assigned. The new job description provides managers with the flexibility to assign staff where they are needed in order to meet operational requirements and provides staff with job enrichment opportunities.
In 2013, the ministry completed the implementation of digital recording devices (DRDs) in courtrooms across the province. The devices have been implemented in over 700 courtrooms at 165 court sites. DRDs provide a standardized method of court reporting and are a step in the division’s incremental, multi-year plan to provide professional tools to our staff and to ensure the integrity and security of the court record.
More than 1,000 staff members were trained with the support and guidance of digital recording experts and local peer coaches. Local implementation teams were established and combined the efforts of local management, systems officers, regional business leads and IT coordinators, digital recording experts, and peer coaches to make the implementation a success.
The ministry continues to receive positive feedback from court staff, judicial officers and management. In particular, feedback highlighted the benefits of digital recording, including the clarity and security of the recording in ensuring future access for both playback of the record and transcript production.
On June 9, 2014, the ministry will implement a new model for court transcript production that enhances the strengths of the current system and meets the needs of judicial officers, justice partners and court users. These changes build on Ontario’s commitment to ensure the timely and accurate production of court transcripts and are consistent with the proven approach in most other provinces and many international jurisdictions.
Under the new model, ordering parties will select a transcriptionist from a publicly accessible list of authorized court transcriptionists maintained by an independent service provider. All aspects of the transcript order, timelines, payment and delivery options will be arranged and agreed to directly between the ordering party and the authorized court transcriptionist.
Justice Technology Services (JTS) collaborates with the division and the ministry’s Innovation Office to ensure appropriate information technology support for Court Services Division modernization initiatives and ongoing legislative and business process change requirements. This work includes the documentation of business and system requirements, User Acceptance Test plans, and training expertise in support of enhancements to existing applications.
JTS implements technology/application solutions for courts as well as supports the day to day technical operating environment. In the past year, the JTS Help Desk has resolved 4,231 incidents, and has provided ongoing support and monthly online training sessions for users of the division’s case management and associated systems.
In 2013-14, JTS provided support and guidance to the Court Services Division for the development and implementation of the following information technology initiatives:
In 2013-14, enhanced technology for in-court electronic evidence display was deployed to five Toronto court sites (11 courtrooms). Enhanced electronic evidence display technology allows for the play and display of a wide variety of electronic evidence formats. The use of this technology enables the court to easily view electronic evidence such as video, photographs, and documents and contributes to more efficient proceedings. This initiative was a collaborative effort involving Court Services, Criminal Law and Justice Technology Services Division.
JTS provides ongoing support to the judiciary on behalf of the Court Services Division, providing direct information technology support and working collaboratively with the Judicial Information Technology Office (JITO). JTS and JITO work together to identify and resolve IT issues and provide ongoing support, exploration, and development of both current and new technology. A critical component of this work is supporting the appropriate security and segregation of judicial information.
Ongoing work in 2013-14 included collaboration and consultation with the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice for initiatives such as the Judicial and Judicial Support IT Equipment Renewal, as well as an initiative to help ensure an up-to-date computing environment (including the operating system and software applications) for the members of the judiciary and their support staff.
The Court Time Reporting System (CTRS) is a technology tool developed to modernize existing manual time reporting procedures for tracking in-court hours for court offices across the division. CTRS will automate the existing processes, including sign-in/out protocols, and will be used by in-court staff (flexible part-time and fixed-term), supervisors of court operations, and for payroll/time reporting entry and approvals.
A phased deployment of CTRS commenced in February 2014. This modern and user-friendly technology resource will help to make all related processes more efficient for court offices across the province.
The Digital Recordings Repository is an online resource used by the judiciary to easily access digital recordings for court sessions over which they have presided. Deployed in September 2013, this technology offers enhanced security access to the electronic court recordings.
One feature of the Integrated Court Offences Network (ICON) system is the generation of hard copy criminal court dockets (court schedules) for all Ontario Court of Justice court locations. Over the past year, the JTS worked with the division to develop an electronic process to distribute the dockets to justice stakeholders. This initiative allows the division to optimize the use of existing technology while streamlining business processes.
This project began in January 2013 in 12 Ontario Court of Justice court sites, and was fully implemented at all Ontario Court of Justice locations in November 2013.
Significant work has been accomplished over the years to strengthen the supports for handling and securing exhibits. In 2012, the High-Risk Exhibits Management Guide – Phase Two was released to provide procedures for safely handling and storing high-risk exhibits. Building on the guide, the division has been working with staff from across the regions and program branches in the development of an Exhibits Management Manual. This manual is slated for release in 2014 and will provide a comprehensive resource for exhibit management staff in all practice areas to reference current policies and procedures.
The division chaired the Court Security Standards Working Group, which included representation from the Superior Court of Justice, the Ontario Court of Justice, the municipal and policing sectors, the Ministry of the Community Safety and Correctional Services and other justice sector participants. They met in June 2013 to review the responses to a consultation paper that sought input from a broad range of justice sector participants and stakeholder groups on a preliminary court security standards framework. The results of the consultation were forwarded to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services for consideration as part of their Future of Policing Project that is currently reviewing police services in Ontario. Upon completion of this mandate, the working group was disbanded. The division continues to work with its partners at the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, the Ontario Provincial Police, and municipal police services to ensure the safety and security of all court facilities and justice system participants.
Court Services Division has demonstrated its ongoing commitment to providing effective training to all divisional staff in support of the division’s learning and development goals. To meet the varied learning needs of staff and managers, the division has developed several educational tools and supports to enable a skilled and engaged workforce.
The division’s training plan guides the central coordination of training initiatives and ensures consistent high-quality training materials to support staff development. The plan is constantly evolving, focuses on operational training on new court systems and priorities and includes corporately developed and delivered training. The plan is supported by the work of the Learning and Development Committee, consisting of corporate and regional representatives from across the division. The committee provides a forum for consultation on the identification of learning and development priorities, evaluation of current and ongoing training and the identification of knowledge or skill gaps that might be addressed through future planning.
In support of the courts modernization initiative, the division’s management team completed a full-day introductory change management training session in May and June 2013. The training focused on providing leadership with the necessary tools to effectively lead during periods of change. In March 2014, the division launched a half-day change management training session for staff, also in support of the courts modernization initiative. All staff will attend the in-person training session or participate via webinar.
The division’s management team attended an annual two-day learning event in May and June 2013. This learning event gave managers the opportunity to provide input into divisional priorities and to share best practices with colleagues.
Court Services Division continues to demonstrate its commitment to supporting a professional and respectful workplace. All new managers are required to complete a Management Awareness Session within the first six months of employment where they learn strategies to effectively support this initiative. Staff are also required to complete training on supporting a professional and respectful workplace as a part of their orientation.
As of March 2014, approximately 90 per cent of managers and staff completed training about the IASR and the Human Rights Code as it pertains to people with disabilities. The division has made it mandatory for all managers and staff to complete additional training about accessible information and communications which includes for example accessible formats, communication supports and accessible websites. All managers must complete training about accessible employment. This training will be completed by December 2014.
Each year, the Divisional Support Unit conducts jury training for staff across the province in support of the province’s First Nations jury selection process. During the training, staff have the opportunity to raise questions and discuss matters related to the administration of the First Nations jury process. Training sessions are held annually in the summer and early fall in advance of the jury questionnaires being mailed out.
Court Services Division continues to work with Durham College, Centennial College and Algonquin College to support court support training programs. The programs focus on court support staff roles and responsibilities, and includes training on pre-court, in-court, and post-court related functions, as well as ethics, courtroom procedures and legal terminology. With ongoing support provided by our managers, supervisors and members of the judiciary, graduates of the program continue to develop the necessary skills and remain highly successful in the competition process for court support positions in Court Services Division.
On April 1 2014, the division will be implementing revised service standards to replace the existing standards implemented in 2010. Service standards let customers know the division cares about their experiences while informing them of the level of service they can expect. The Ontario Public Service Directive Guide recommends that ministries and divisions review service standards regularly to adjust them to reflect new client needs, expectations and program initiatives.
In January and February 2014, the division conducted its annual Client Satisfaction Survey. The survey was conducted online and in-person at 16 court locations across the seven regions and focused on client satisfaction with court counter services for the civil, family, criminal and Small Claims Court practice areas and measured organizational performance, not personal performance of staff members.
In total, 1,472 surveys were collected from across the province over a two month period. The surveys consistently indicated high levels of overall client satisfaction for all practice areas and locations. Overall, 87 per cent of clients agreed or strongly agreed they were satisfied with the court counter service they received.
The survey also assessed client satisfaction with the division’s French language and accessibility services. Of the 1,472 respondents, a small proportion (two per cent) requested French Language Services. 73 per cent of these clients were satisfied with the French Language Services they received. Just over three per cent of respondents had a disability-related need and a majority of those indicated they were satisfied with the assistance they received. 90 per cent of clients agreed that staff were knowledgeable and helpful, and 90 per cent reported that they were treated in a courteous, professional, and respectful manner by staff.
The Client Satisfaction Survey results reflect the high quality of work that is achieved every day in courthouses across the province by division staff and managers.
The Provincial Offences Act (POA) is the procedural code governing the enforcement, prosecution and adjudication of offences established by municipal bylaws and provincial statutes, such as the Highway Traffic Act. Judicial officials in the Ontario Court of Justice preside over these matters. Court services for POA matters are provided primarily by municipalities.
In 2013-14, the division led a number of initiatives to assist municipal partners in the delivery of local justice services and to strengthen the provincial-municipal POA partnership, including:
The division is responsible for the processing of Commissioner for Taking Affidavits applications and non-lawyer notaries public through the Legal Appointments Office.
In 2013-14, the Legal Appointments Office received 9,615 applications for commissioners and 354 for notary public.
The division is responsible for providing administrative support to the appointment of Ontario Court of Justice judges, justices of the peace, regional senior judges and regional senior justices of the peace of the Ontario Court of Justice, case management masters for the Superior Court of Justice and deputy judges of the Small Claims Court.
Judicial appointments for the Ontario Court of Justice are made upon the recommendation to the Attorney General from the independent Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee and the Justice of the Peace Appointments Advisory Committee. Both committees have independent websites available at www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/jaac and www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/jpaac.
In 2013-14, 49 judicial appointments were processed: 10 judges, 21 justices of the peace, four regional senior justices and 14 deputy judges.
Judicial Library Services provides support to the 79 judicial libraries across the province, as well as to the library committees for each court, and maintains the Ontario Courts websites which include the three levels of courts as well as the Ontario Judicial Council, Justices of the Peace Review Council, Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee and Justice of the Peace Appointments Advisory Committee. Judicial Library Services also provides library research support, including the maintenance of an intranet for judges, masters, justices of the peace, counsel and law clerks. During this past year, Judicial Library Services staff were also responsible for relocating four courthouse libraries into the new consolidated courthouses in Thunder Bay, St. Thomas, Waterloo and Belleville.
Within the Ministry of the Attorney General, the Corporate Services Management Division (CSMD) has the lead responsibility for capital planning and strategic oversight through its Facilities Management Branch (FMB). The Court Services Division works in partnership with CSMD to identify capital planning priorities and to manage courthouse facilities issues across the province. FMB works closely with Infrastructure Ontario and the Ministry of Infrastructure to implement capital courthouse improvements.
In the summer of 2011, the province released its new 10-year infrastructure plan, “Building Together”. As part of this plan, asset management was identified as a priority for the government and all ministries. Each provincial ministry that owns and operates infrastructure is now required to prepare and update an annual inventory of its infrastructure assets and a plan to maintain those assets, based on a consistent framework.
In the fall of 2011, FMB, in collaboration with Infrastructure Ontario and Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis (CBRE), undertook the first phase of a comprehensive inventory and asset description of 125 ministry locations, including courthouses and selected office space across the province. This phase was completed in 2012.
In late 2013, the second phase of the asset management plan was initiated. This phase involved a comprehensive inventory asset description and space measurement of all the ministry’s clustered agencies and related office space, including hearing/tribunal spaces and related offices. All office space measurement was complete by March 2013, and review of drawing submission is currently underway.
The information collected will be used as part of the foundation for the ministry’s Asset Management Plan and will enable the ministry to provide more effective, proactive, strategic, and financially responsible stewardship of court and office facilities.
In 2008, the Facilities Management Branch initiated a signage and wayfinding improvement project following the ministry’s pledge to increase accessibility in the province’s courthouses.
As a provincewide initiative, the Courthouse Wayfinding Signage Standards (CWSS) provides critical information for Ontarians attending court by posting clear, easy to understand signs in courthouses.
The response to the pilot project at the Barrie Courthouse in 2011 was positive. People visiting the courthouse found it easier and faster to locate courtrooms and services within the building.
Due to the project’s initial success, the installation of new wayfinding and improvement signs have also been completed in Brampton, Gore Bay, Hamilton, Newmarket, Ottawa, Sarnia, and at both 245 Windsor Avenue and 200 Chatham Street in Windsor.
The ministry is committed to investing in courthouse renovation and expansion projects to address facility performance matters. Examples of projects recently completed or underway at court locations that meet these criteria include: a new satellite court location in Hearst; secure, single point of entry projects in Chatham and Sault Ste. Marie; major security upgrades in Barrie, Newmarket and Ottawa; and renovation projects in Brampton, Fort Frances and Sault Ste. Marie.
Lifecycle maintenance projects valued at over $2.3 million, funded from the Ministry’s Infrastructure Renewal allocation, deal with facility deficiencies to extend the useful life of the existing courthouse portfolio. They include: jury box expansion to accommodate a 14-member jury; replacing public bench seating; updating workstations; and lighting upgrades, cleaning, re-carpeting and painting.
Major renovations of approximately $1 million were also completed in Gore Bay and Richmond Hill.
The implementation of interim facilities solutions are being carried out for the Barrie, Newmarket and Brampton Courthouses to address immediate space pressures. These initiatives highlight the government’s commitment to explore a wide range of strategies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of justice services. Once complete, these solutions will provide additional courtroom capacity and associated support functions.
The target completion dates for the interim solutions at Barrie and Newmarket are fall 2014. In Brampton, the division continues to work to address longer-term capacity issues.
The ministry has worked closely with our judicial partners to implement these projects.
Through the Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) Courthouse Projects Office, in partnership with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Infrastructure Ontario, the ministry delivered a number of new courthouse development projects in Waterloo Region (Kitchener), Quinte (Belleville), Thunder Bay, and Elgin County (St. Thomas). The AFP model uses private sector expertise and financing to build vital infrastructure, such as courthouses, on time and on budget, while ensuring appropriate public control and ownership.
As described previously, innovative processes and ideas come from all corners of the division. Corporate branches provide policy and program development for these ideas and support for implementation, while regional staff and managers provide extensive leadership and subject matter expertise to guide projects and are ultimately responsible for successful implementation. This work is in addition to the daily work related to the operation of the courts. The division’s ability to meet its priority commitments is therefore completely reliant on the energy and generosity of regional staff and managers, and their successful local collaboration with other justice participants.
In addition, the regions identify and implement their own priority initiatives. These initiatives are highlighted throughout the next few pages.
The Central East Region is located to the north and east of Toronto and is part of the Greater Toronto Area. The region has a population of nearly two and a half million people. Through eight courthouses and 10 satellites, the region serves the communities of York, Haliburton, Muskoka, Simcoe, the City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland, Durham, and Peterborough.
Over the past decade, this region has experienced one of the highest growth rates in the country.
A number of court locations across the Central East Region were provided with security and facility upgrades. In Newmarket, a redesigned, covered, and accessible front entrance was constructed and now includes the use of magnetometers and x-ray machines.
The Barrie Courthouse began its upgrades to the card access system and alarms and received new and additional security cameras and monitoring equipment. Over the past year, four new interview rooms for lawyers and clients were constructed, including one that is specifically designed for wheelchair accessibility. Plans for the coming year include redesigning the client services counter to ensure accessibility to our clients with disabilities and to provide ergonomic solutions for our staff.
A modular courtroom for the Ontario Court of Justice is expected to be completed at the Lindsay Courthouse in 2014.
The Justice on Target (JOT) strategy saw significant improvements in reducing time to trial and reducing the number of court appearances at all court locations in the Central East Region. The Newmarket Courthouse began conducting full video bail hearings in two bail courtrooms as well as establishing solicitor/client consultation with the Central East Correctional Centre on February 18, 2014.
Effective May 2014, a probation officer will be on site in Cobourg every Wednesday for First Appearance Ontario Court of Justice court. The probation officer will be able to see clients directly from the courtroom and assist with a variety of duties. This will support JOT goals and provide good customer service and support to the judiciary and court staff.
Local JOT teams continued to meet regularly to explore more options for improvements.
Central East Region has established modernization committees in each of its court locations. Staff meet regularly to discuss and implement modernization ideas and report back in-person to the Regional Management Team about the status of the projects and possible implementation plans.
One such idea came from the Bracebridge court services staff to create a staff training video for jury selection. The script, written by staff, has been completed and is currently being used by Central East Region as a staff training tool. Staff throughout the region will be participating in the production of the video targeted for completion by fall 2014.
A pilot of the electronic telewarrant initiative is being implemented in Durham and Newmarket in cooperation with Waterloo and Peel regional police services. The pilot evolved from the judiciary and police services wanting to enhance the current telewarrant system in Ontario to support electronic filing of warrant applications. The process will allow police to scan the warrant and e-mail it to the justice of the peace. The goals of the pilot are to: validate and refine the system, identify business processes which may require change, assess system performance and verify security architecture, introduce the use of digital signatures on court applications and judicial orders, verify desktop software distribution and installation procedures, obtain feedback from users on system functionality and training material, and formulate a go-forward strategy.
Effective June 3, 2013, Durham Courthouse participated in a pilot project with Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby and Central East Correctional Centre. The pilot project expanded Ontario Shores’ ability to provide fitness assessments by video in those situations when a hospital bed was not available. In February and March 2014, Peterborough, Cobourg, Lindsay and Newmarket court locations also began to conduct video fitness assessments via the Ontario Telemedicine Network within seven working days. Reports are submitted to judicial officials who order these assessments in a greatly reduced time-frame.
Throughout the past year, the Central East Region IT Systems Team has been a catalyst in Information Technology/Audio Video innovation. In addition to supporting modernization initiatives, the IT team has been an active participant to enhance technology with Criminal Law Division (CLD) and Victims and Vulnerable Persons Division.
The team was involved in the renewal of judicial laptops, judicial user desktops and all servers; the rollout of new courtroom Digital Recording Devices in Peterborough and Oshawa; a new queuing system in the Newmarket Small Claims Court office; the rollout of the new AV carts throughout the region; network speed upgrades for both Collingwood and Midland; continued CCTV setups for jury selections and vulnerable witness room improvements in Peterborough and Newmarket; using Justice Video Network - Mobile Edition as a cost-effective and secure mobile video conferencing solution for remote witnesses who could not move from their current locations; and helping Ontario Victim Services Secretariat to setup the Newmarket VicTrack database as both a new fresh database and an archive version to stabilize the program until their new VISION database is ready. They have also been working closely with Criminal Law Division to upgrade electronic evidence presentation technology. Criminal Law Division has funded much of the equipment and supporting infrastructure, while court services continues to support the technology.
The new modular courtroom additions in Newmarket and Barrie will be equipped with modern audio-video technology to support increased use of remote technology.
Deputy Attorney General Patrick Monahan hosted an Employee Engagement Town Hall meeting in Newmarket on May 9, 2013. This event gave staff the opportunity to discuss, in workshop-style format, topics such as service excellence, engagement, recognition, and communication.
Staff continue to provide quality front-line services that meet the division’s business goals and customer service standards. Interested staff attended a session on “Management - Is It For Me?”. A regional Finance Technical Table has been formed where members from each court location meet regularly to disseminate information, exchange ideas and share best practices. The Central East Region has also engaged a criminal ICON expert to conduct refresher training.
With 14 court locations, the Central West Region has the highest population of the seven Court Services Division regions, and serves a diverse and multicultural population of over three million people. It includes Pearson International Airport, numerous communities in the Great Toronto Area, including the Town of Milton, identified in the 2011 census as the fastest growing community in the country. The Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, Canada’s largest First Nation reserve, as well as the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation are also part of this region.
Infrastructure initiatives across the region focused on upgrades and renovations to improve efficiencies, accessibility and health and safety concerns, and security issues.
At the S.K. Welch Courthouse in St. Catharines, the guard station in the cell block was redesigned and expanded, and three additional security monitors were enhanced. A space utilization study is underway to identify the best use of space.
The Welland Courthouse has been outfitted with an upgraded and modernized security monitoring system. Perimeter security equipment has been installed, which includes magnetometers, security cameras and monitors. To improve file management, two high-density filing units were installed. This has facilitated quicker access to files, resulting in faster, more efficient service to the public.
At the courthouse in Simcoe, the security monitoring system was upgraded and modernized. Holding cells at the Cayuga Courthouse were refurbished, and security features were enhanced through the use of camera technology.
In 2013-14, two new specialty courts were introduced in the region. A ceremony to launch the Opening of the Aboriginal Persons’ Court was held on January 7, 2014 at the Brantford Ontario Court of Justice. The heartwarming ceremony was well attended by First Nations community members, the judiciary, counsel, court staff and other court stakeholders. In preparation for the commencement of this court, court services staff working at the Brantford Ontario Court of Justice attended an education day held at Six Nations Polytechnic on the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory Reserve where they learned about the following topics: the Haudenosaunee language, teachings from the Creation Story, Great Law Principles, Clans & Nations, residential schools overview and a survivor’s story. They also learned about the impacts of colonization, the two row wampum and community perspectives on crime.
A Drug Treatment Court officially began at the John Sopinka Courthouse in Hamilton, on January 15, 2014. In preparation for the opening of the specialized court, stakeholders were invited to attend an information session held by the local judiciary on January 8, 2014.
At the Brampton Courthouse counters, a new automated ticketing system has improved service to clients at all counters. The file-vetting process introduced in 2012 in the civil area was expanded in 2013 to include the family area in the Ontario Court of Justice. This initiative has been successful in reducing client wait times. In September 2013, an appointment system was introduced for multi-filers at the Hamilton civil and family counter areas. As a result, wait times have been reduced, thus improving service to the public.
Staff are encouraged to contribute and participate in the ministry’s modernization and innovation activities. In the spring of 2013, the deputy attorney general held his first Town Hall meeting in Hamilton. At this meeting, the deputy attorney general encouraged staff to brainstorm ideas to improve the ministry. When the ministry’s Ideas and Innovation Fund was created in the fall, staff from the region submitted numerous ideas. Two ideas submitted by a staff member from the Milton court office were selected for further evaluation.
One of the keys findings from the Town Hall meeting was that staff wanted more direct contact with senior leaders. As a result, the first Ministry of the Attorney General cross-divisional Regional Roundtable session, led by the deputy attorney general and assistant deputy attorneys general will be held in Hamilton in April. This session will give employees the opportunity to learn more about what each of the divisions in the ministry do, and the types of career options that exist in these divisions.
Career advancement and training is a key priority for the region. Training sessions were held in many court locations throughout the region on resume writing and interview skills, as well as handling vicarious trauma. “Resumes That Rock” sessions were held in the region to assist staff with the recruitment process. Staff who expressed an interest in management positions have benefited from the twice-a-year sessions on “Management - Is It For Me?”. Staff in Hamilton also visited the Oshawa courts to share best practices and ideas on in-court practices.
Employee engagement is another priority for the region. The director’s courtside chats were held at all court locations. As part of this initiative, the director visited all court locations and met with staff. She encouraged them to share ideas and feedback on various items, including courts modernization and any tools or process changes that could be made to assist them with doing their jobs effectively and efficiently and providing the best possible service to clients.
Creating and maintaining a professional and respectful working environment is a key priority in the region. Diversity Committees at various sites throughout the region held numerous events to promote diversity and inclusion to foster a positive workplace environment.
Long-time service awards were presented to recognize staff in the region who were celebrating 20, 25, 30 and 35 years of service in the Ontario Public Service. In addition, staff in Milton and Brampton were recognized with regional Team Excellence in Courts Administration awards, and staff members in Welland and Brampton were recipients of individual Staff Excellence in Courts Administration awards.
The region serves over 1.6 million people and provides court services in 25 locations covering 10 counties. Many of these court locations are designated locations where services are provided in English and French.
The region benefited from a number of facility enhancements as well as the completion of the new Quinte Courthouse in Belleville that opened on August 19, 2013, providing enhanced technology, security and access for people with disabilities. The six-storey facility which consolidates four courthouses - three in Belleville and one in Trenton - is home to 11 courtrooms and five conference/settlement suites. It also includes offices for crown attorneys, the Victim/Witness Assistance Program and offices for external agencies such as the Law Association, Probation and Parole and in-custody accused.
The Ottawa Courthouse completed a number of renovation projects in courtrooms, the jury assembly room and administrative areas. Security enhancements and replacement of public seating at the courthouse are in progress. Sound system upgrades in seven courtrooms at the Ottawa Courthouse and one courtroom at the Pembroke Courthouse support the implementation of the digital recording devices initiative. At the Ottawa Courthouse, clients of the civil, small claims and family business lines are benefiting from the installation of a new Qmatic system. The fully automated system has numerous capabilities to improve services to the public, including management of multiple queues and counters, public display of ticket numbering, and data collection.
Upgrades to the security card access system were completed at the Brockville Courthouse. Enhancements to the street frontage by the municipality improved the appearance of the courthouse. The Perth Courthouse exterior upgrades were completed to improve energy efficiency. Closed-circuit televisions (CCTV) that can be used when a victim, accused or witness cannot appear in the courtroom were installed, supporting the enhancement of courtroom technologies and modernization initiatives. The Cornwall Courthouse added additional security cameras and continues planning for enhanced security. The court also installed additional accessibility features to one courtroom.
As part of the Justice on Target (JOT) strategy, the East Region implemented a pilot project to reduce the number of adjournments in the first appearance court and the number of days in the intake phase. As an example, one year later it is estimated that this process has resulted in a savings of roughly 2,400 appearances in Cornwall. Kingston was one of the e-order pilot sites and tested the Probation Order and Conditional Sentence Order. The roll-out of the e-order project to the entire East Region began in March 2014.
On April 24, 2013, Deputy Attorney General Patrick Monahan travelled to Ottawa to host an Employee Engagement Town Hall meeting. Staff were given the opportunity to discuss important themes such as visible leadership, connection to the strategic plan, and communications planning. This discussion helped engage a team of dedicated staff members who are committed to providing exceptional services to the public.
Court services staff in the East Region are engaged with stakeholders in their community on different initiatives. Some court locations continued to support local schools by allowing them to use a courtroom to do mock trials as part of their law curriculum. The Ottawa Courthouse in partnership with the Odawa Aboriginal Community Justice Programme (OACJ) unveiled new OACJ posters in English, French, Inuit and Braille, to increase awareness about the program that keeps eligible Aboriginal offenders out of the criminal justice system.
Seventy per cent of the population for northern Ontario resides in the Northeast Region. There are significant Francophone and Aboriginal populations in the region and court services are regularly provided in French, Ojibway and Cree. The Northeast Region encompasses 10 base court locations and 25 satellite courts. Six satellite court locations are located on First Nations reserves and five in the region are remote and can only be reached by aircraft.
Security enhancements were made to the Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse which included the addition of an optical port and magnetometer. In 2013-14, a study was completed to provide options for an accessible front entrance while maintaining a single point of entry. While the study is complete, work continues to determine the best possible solution to providing an accessible front entrance at that site.
Basement renovations also commenced at the Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse and are scheduled to be completed in 2014. Some of the changes include the addition of a Victim/Witness Assistance Program Office, a vulnerable witness room with remote testimony capabilities, an Ontario Provincial Police and Sault Ste. Marie court coordinator office, a crown witness interview room, a secure Legal Aid room and three new interview rooms.
Justice on Target (JOT) strategies continued throughout the region. In 2013-14 a reduction in the number of appearances was noted for less complex cases (eight out of ten sites improved from the 2011 established benchmark; two sites improved by more than five per cent). As a result of the Bail Experts Table Recommendations Report, Bail Committees have been established in each base court location in the Northeast to increase communication and coordination for everyone involved in local bail processes, including private counsel, Legal Aid Ontario, police and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. The committee will identify contact persons, map local bail processes, identify opportunities for change and develop more modern and effective practices.
In February 2014, North Bay became involved in the phased deployment of the Court Time Reporting System which eliminates the need to complete manual time sheets. Feedback received from in-court staff, supervisors and payroll clerks has been very positive. The entire Region is scheduled to go-live in early August 2014.
Deputy Attorney General Patrick Monahan travelled to Sudbury on April 4, 2013 to host an Employee Engagement Town Hall meeting. Staff appreciated the opportunity to engage with their supervisors and facilitate discussions to improve public service and maintain employee engagement.
In 2013-14, the Northeast Region continued its “Management – Is it for me?” workshops for staff interested in a career in courts management. The event continues to be well attended and feedback received is positive.
Staff members in Sudbury were recognized with regional Team Excellence in Courts Administration awards and a staff member in North Bay was the recipient of the Staff Excellence in Courts Administration award. These staff exemplify the eight core divisional values of service excellence, collaboration, accountability, innovation, inclusion, respect, integrity, and professionalism in their delivery of courts administration.
The Northwest Region includes five base courts and 36 satellite court locations, 22 of which are in Aboriginal communities that are only accessible by air transportation. Court staff, members of the judiciary and members of the legal profession travel extensively within these remote areas to provide community-centred services. The vast geography, remote locations and winter travel conditions present many program delivery challenges.
Construction of the consolidated courthouse located in the Fort Williams district of downtown Thunder Bay was substantially complete on February 6, 2014. Both the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice are planning for an early April 2014 move date.
The new 225,000 square foot facility consists of 15 courtrooms, including a multiple-accused, high security courtroom and four settlement conference rooms as well as the province’s first Aboriginal Conference Settlement Suite. This suite is a culturally relevant Aboriginal space designed for case conferencing, pre-trials, Gladue Courts and family and civil hearings. The new courthouse brings together Ontario Court of Justice and Superior Court of Justice functions, Crown attorney offices, courts administration and Victim/Witness Assistance Program services in a single modern facility. The building also includes barrier-free design and a commitment to meeting the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver standard.
On February 6, 2014, the Fort Frances Courtroom first floor renovations received occupancy approval. The first court session was held on February 18, 2014.
The new courtroom is equipped with video and audio technology. There is also a vulnerable witness room with child friendly features, and client waiting room outside the courtroom. Security was improved with the development of secure corridors and restricted access to the judicial chambers. The cell block Interview Room was equipped with soundproofing panels to ensure confidentiality and the first floor is now equipped with a fire sprinkler system and a new fire alarm panel was installed for the whole building. There are now two accessible washrooms available. Upgrades were done to the electrical, IT and plumbing systems throughout the first floor.
Improvements to the Kenora Courthouse resulted in a modern, secure, accessible public counter area complete with safety glass. The glass design of the public counter has allowed for natural light to filter through the building from the lakeside windows.
On June 12, 2013, Deputy Attorney General Patrick Monahan hosted an Employee Engagement Town Hall meeting in Thunder Bay. This meeting encouraged staff members at every level to participate in discussions that promoted service excellence and employee engagement.
In February of 2014, the Northwest Region began to amalgamate all trust business functions into one regional trust account. The amalgamation is expected to be completed by the end of April 2014. This initiative will allow for a more efficient alignment of resources, and meet the needs of clients and stakeholders.
In 2012-13, the Northeast and Northwest Regions worked collaboratively on a number of projects including:
A pilot project commenced in the Northern Regions to conduct pre-assessment hearings via teleconference in an effort to resolve solicitor/client assessments and reduce court appearances. While those efforts continue, in January 2014, regular video conferencing dates were introduced as an additional method to conduct solicitor/client assessments. The 2014 assessment schedule alternates between a video conference appearance and an in-person appearance at each site in the Northern Regions. It is hoped that this new initiative will create efficiencies and increase access to justice.
Efforts to increase First Nations awareness of the jury system in Ontario and to encourage their participation on jury panels continue in the North. Management continues their efforts in establishing relationships with First Nations to ensure representation on jury panels. A number of Jury forums were held in the Northern communities, including Deer Lake, Fort Severn, Poplar Hill, Nibinamik, Kenora and Dryden. In Sault Ste. Marie, an article was prepared for a First Nations newspaper providing information on the jury selection process in an effort to increase awareness and participation. On October 1 and 2, 2013, the Northern Regions, with the support of the Court Interpretation Unit, organized a workshop and educational seminar in Thunder Bay for First Nations court interpreters from across Northern Ontario. At the seminar, interpreters received the results of the First Nations Court Interpreter test. The test was a unique undertaking, created to meet the specific needs of the First Nations courtroom. A working group of First Nation court interpreters was formed in 2013-14 to provide input into support materials and a second workshop to support the professional development of First Nation court interpreters.
In 2013-14, an agreement was formalized with KO-KNet, a First Nations owned and not-for-profit service offering network, bandwidth optimization, installation, training, scheduling, and on-the-ground support for video conferencing. It is hoped that this formalized agreement will allow the ministry to increase the use of video conferencing in the far north thus improving access to justice.
In 2012, a Fly-In Court Working Group was established to improve efficiency and accessibility to court services in remote communities. On August 27, 2013, the committee released a report providing an overview of the challenges facing those seeking access to justice and those delivering justice services in remote northern communities. Ministry staff and justice partners are reviewing the report and its recommendations in detail in an effort to make improvements in those areas.
The Northern Regions continue to take full advantage of technology using video, Adobe Connect, MOVI and e-learning modules to enhance their ability to deliver training and implement divisional initiatives in an efficient and cost-effective manner as part of the regions’ commitment to support a trained and professional workforce.
The Toronto Region serves the City of Toronto. With a population of over 2.6 million, the region has the highest population density of all Court Services Division regions. It is ethnically diverse with one in four immigrants to Canada settling in Toronto.
The Toronto Region includes many high-volume courts and key justice system participants, including the Court of Appeal for Ontario, the Offices of the Chief Justices for the Court of Appeal, the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice, the Provincial Legislature, the offices of the Law Society of Upper Canada, and many of the country’s largest law firms. The region also houses Canada’s first integrated domestic violence court, and Ontario’s first guns and gangs courtrooms along with a number of speciality courts.
Improvements to existing courthouses continued throughout 2013-14, including a multi-year HVAC project at Old City Hall. The project, which focuses on the replacement and upgrading of the heating, air conditioning and ventilation, is expected to be completed in 2015.
In March 2014, design was completed for a new courtroom hearing both family and small claims court matters at 47 Sheppard Avenue. The courtroom will include video technology to support remote testimony/participation as well as electronic evidence display equipment. Construction is expected to be completed in 2014-15. To ensure the ministry is compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the courtroom will contain an accessible judicial dais, and an accessible public washroom will be constructed.
The Toronto Region continues to support the ministry’s Justice on Target (JOT) strategy. Local leadership team meetings were held at all Ontario Court of Justice locations throughout the year to increase communication between justice participants and discuss new initiatives to better support the administration of justice. As well, the region has standardized Enhanced Reminder Notices to provide to the accused, which indicates the next court appearance details as well as the appropriate steps required to take prior to the next court appearance. This notice assists the accused persons with the preparation of next court appearances and is designed to ensure meaningful and efficient court proceedings.
In the fall of 2013, a judicial review of civil court delays in the Toronto Superior Court of Justice resulted in administrative changes, such as allowing estates matters to be heard by the commercial bench, vacating motion dates if the materials and payments are not received within 10 days of the motion date, and permitting only one consent adjournment for a motion by counter staff, as subsequent adjournments must be made before the Court. It is anticipated that these changes will significantly reduce delays in civil court hearings.
In December 2013, staff in the family law office at 393 University Avenue began processing divorce applications more efficiently as a result of access to the Federal Central Divorce Registry database obtained in August 2013, the introduction of a Self Help Guide for clients, and a change to the FRANK case management system. These changes allow clients to file their application and make payment to staff during one transaction, which enhances customer service by reducing the number of client attendances at the court counter.
Deputy Attorney General Patrick Monahan hosted two Employee Engagement events in Toronto, as part of the Town Hall series that took place across the province from March until June 2013. During this meeting, staff of all levels had the opportunity to collaborate with management and share ideas to help promote employee engagement and share best practices. Feedback from staff was positive, with many staff members expressing their wish for more frequent Town Hall sessions.
After a successful pilot project at 311 Jarvis Street in 2012, the Integrated Domestic Violence Court (IDVC) has been expanded to include both Old City Hall and College Park domestic violence matters and compliance is now mandatory. Process changes have been implemented and a revised Court Services Division Administrative Practice Procedure Guide has been developed to support IDVC.
The Ontario Court of Justice e-orders pilot project was implemented in Toronto Region in November 2013. Toronto was the first region in the province to implement e-orders in all Ontario Court of Justice locations, with six in total.
Also in November 2013, family court staff in both the Ontario Court of Justice and Superior Court of Justice were trained to utilize the auto order tool for the electronic production of court orders.
Throughout 2013-14, 361 University Avenue received technological upgrades to 11 additional courtrooms. Upgrades include the presentation of video evidence; annotation; large screen monitors for the public; and monitors for the jury, defense and Crown attorneys for courtrooms 2-7, 4-2, 4-4, and 4-9. Also, courtrooms 2-3, 2-4, 2-5, 4-3, 4-5, 4-6 and 4-7 received electronic evidence display suites, large screen public monitors, media players and monitors for the Crowns and defense.
The West Region has an estimated population of 2,259,321. Geographically, the region spans approximately 33,000 square kilometres and contains major border crossings between Canada and the United States in Sarnia and Windsor.
The region is served by 15 base courts in 12 communities providing full justice support services for criminal, civil, family and Small Claims Court cases. In addition, six satellite courts are located in the region along with the Walpole Island Criminal Court site supported by the Sarnia base court.
Construction of the Elgin County Consolidated Courthouse was substantially completed on February 7, 2014 and the relocation of court services for Elgin County concluded on March 23, 2014. Court sittings commenced at the consolidated courthouse on March 24, 2014. This project included restoration of the historical courthouse that housed the Superior Court of Justice courtrooms with an addition built surrounding the existing facility. The Elgin County Courthouse contains eight courtrooms, three motions and settlement conference rooms, and will provide enhanced courtroom technologies. Transition planning and activities were completed with all justice participants. Staff Transition Workgroups were formed to support employee engagement and to utilize the expertise of staff in this transition.
As of April 15, 2013, the Waterloo Region Courthouse was fully operational. The new courthouse contains 30 courtrooms and eight judicial conference rooms and provides enhanced courtroom technologies. On September 21, 2013, members of the local community toured the new courthouse through the 2013 Doors Open Waterloo Event. On September 23, 2013, an official Opening of Courts was held at the Waterloo Region Courthouse. The courthouse won the 2013 American Institute of Architects Justice Facilities Award and the 2013 City of Kitchener Urban Design Award.
A court sitting of the Ontario Court of Justice was established on the Walpole Island First Nation reserve in June 2012. It began as a one year pilot project and continues to preside over criminal court matters with a focus on resolution, diversion and direct accountability. Permanent court sittings are now held on the first Wednesday of each month and have expanded to also hear child protection matters.
Windsor installed video conferencing and Closed Circuit Television System equipment in the bail and first appearance courtrooms for remands into custody and consent releases. This has reduced the delay involved in transporting prisoners both to and within the courthouse and results in increased efficiency for justice participants.
Deputy Attorney General Patrick Monahan held an Employee Engagement Town Hall meeting on May 23, 2013 in the Waterloo Courthouse. Staff explored how the division can all contribute more effectively to providing service to the public.
The West Region continues to support learning and development activities. Managers were involved in the formalized coaching and mentoring initiative, and one session was delivered on “Management - Is It For Me?”.
Ongoing French language training and development has continued for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels through lunch hour sessions in the West Regional Office in partnership with the ministry’s Office of the Coordinator of French Language Services (OCFLS). The sessions are well attended and include participation from ministry staff and staff from other ministries.
The West Region has experienced changes in staffing at all levels of the organization due to retirements. Onboarding and orientation sessions are being held for newly hired individuals to the Court Services Division.
There has also been ongoing training for new staff and refresher training for existing staff on professionalism and respect in the workplace.
|Central East||Central West||East||Northeast||Northwest||Toronto||West||Total|
|Government of Canada||881,203||1,518,569||551,605||214,086||76,145||1,952,813||825,944||6,020,365|
* Reimbursements from municipalities for services related to the Provincial Offences Act.
For years ending March 31, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009
Administration of Justice
These costs relate to scheduling court cases, maintaining court records and files, collecting fines and fees, enforcing civil orders, providing justice information to the public, providing courtroom support and facilitating the delivery of other justice services.
|Salaries and Wages||$161,011,538||$160,586,337||$163,046,341||$156,778,664||$155,423,547|
|Transportation and Communication||$9,828,965||$8,705,460||$7,825,174||$8,980,511||$7,894,891|
|Supplies and Equipment||$6,797,567||$9,755,103||$7,559,511||$11,615,035||$8,464,357|
|Judicial Services These costs include the remuneration of Ontario Court judges and justices of the peace and Superior Court quasi-judicial officials, as well as the provision of judicial administrative support for the Ontario and Superior Courts of Justice and the Court of Appeal for Ontario.|
|Salaries and Wages||$133,946,651||$131,104,524||$130,102,004||$124,991,380||$123,388,419|
|Transportation and Communication||$2,872,428||$2,751,937||$3,032,764||$3,157,931||$3,487,156|
|Supplies and Equipment||$649,326||$591,257||$491,298||$582,444||$748,288|
|Transfer Payments (to the National Judicial Institute and the Ontario Conference of Judges)||$231,951||$231,951||$231,951||$231,951||$231,951|
|Bad Debt Expense2||$5,473,662||$5,373,269||$4,867,686||$6,677,773||$6,525,162|
|Acquisition/Construction of Physical Assets||$ 36,158,100||$21,610,023||$291,938,465||$158,384,759||$70,406,368|