It is my pleasure to release the Court Services Division Annual Report for the April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016 fiscal year. Our division has made enormous strides over the past year to ensure we provide effective and accessible justice services to the people of Ontario. As the new Assistant Deputy Attorney General for Court Services Division, I am very pleased with the results that we have achieved. Most of what you will be reading in this 2015/16 Annual Report reflects the leadership of Lynne Wagner. Lynne was ADAG of Court Services Division (CSD) from 2010 to 2016 and the division benefited greatly from her knowledge and commitment to CSD. I am proud to be the new ADAG of CSD, following in the footsteps of an illustrious group of leaders.
The Court Services Division strategic plan was launched in fall 2014 establishing the division’s vision, mission, and values that form the foundation of our future operational and business plans. My vision for the future is consistent with the CSD Strategic Plan coming to life.
Modernization continues to be the division’s main priority with respect to service design and delivery. I am proud of our division’s commitment to developing and delivering accessible and accountable court services and responding to the needs of court users in accessing our services through a range of channels, whether that is in person, by telephone, or electronically. The division’s modernization approach continues to move toward more digital/online services, accessible court facilities and services and a culture of innovation.
Court modernization initiatives continued to expand in 2015-16. Building on the success of previous initiatives such as criminal electronic order production, the division continues to shift toward more digital/online services such as the small claims e-filing pilot project and family electronic order production. These interactive tools also promote the ministry’s green initiative, which will likely save up to a million sheets of paper annually.
This past year, the ministry committed to investing in courthouse renovation and expansion projects to address performance matters. In July 2015, our ministry approved a list of 114 new project opportunities to be completed over the next two years. To date, 19 projects have been completed with an additional 74 currently in progress.
Court Services Division continues its commitment to providing accessible court services in Ontario. The division continues to train management and staff on accessible formats and communications and ensures that each courthouse has an identified accessibility coordinator. In 2015, a number of projects were initiated to solely address accessibility concerns in ministry buildings by removing physical barriers in courthouses. Furthermore, the division, in partnership with Ontario Shared Services, successfully completed the conversion of over 500 court forms and documents to accessible formats.
Thank you to all staff in the division who worked tirelessly and diligently to support the ministry’s commitment to provide modern, effective, and accessible justice services across the province.
Assistant Deputy Attorney General
Court Services Division
Chapter 1: Introduction to the 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 mission of the Court Services Division is to modernize the delivery of accessible and accountable court services and support an engaged, professional and client-focused workforce that works collaboratively with justice participants to inspire public trust.
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 launched its divisional strategic plan in fall 2014. This plan supports the vision, mission, and values of the ministry plan and provides a clear direction for the future of court services. A summary of the divisional strategic plan is included below.
- Service Excellence
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:
- Maintain the independence of the judiciary as a separate branch of government
- Recognize the respective roles and responsibilities of the Attorney General and the judiciary in the administration of justice
- Encourage public access to the courts and public confidence in the administration of justice
- Further the provision of high quality services to the public, and
- Promote the efficient use of public resources
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 Office and Counter Support
Court Services Division staff provide court office services in 161 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.
Judicial and Courtroom Support
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 manages the jury system and provides courtroom support through court clerks and registrars, court reporters, court services officers, and interpreters.
Other Core Services
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 coordinators 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 provision of court services, the division is organized into seven administrative regions. Each region is responsible for:
- Delivering local criminal, civil, small claims, and family court services
- Maintaining records, files, exhibits, and databases
- Providing judicial support services, including courtroom and administrative support
- Managing juries
- Enforcing court orders
- Managing fines, fees, and trust funds
- Managing regional stakeholder communications, and
- Implementing divisional initiatives
Each region is managed by a director of court operations who reports to the assistant deputy attorney general of Court Services Division.
Corporate directors manage each of the division’s branches, including: Corporate Planning Branch, Divisional Support Branch, Civil/Family Policy and Programs Branch, and Criminal/Provincial Offences Act Policy and Programs Branch.
The Corporate Planning Branch is responsible for:
- Developing operational policy and providing program support to court operations in the areas of court interpretation, court reporting and human resources, including:
- Training, testing, and ongoing recruitment of fee-for-service court interpreters
- Managing the ministry’s fleet of digital recording devices and supporting the ministry’s court reporting model
- Setting court transcript standards required by legislation, regulation, policy, and court practice direction
- Producing and publishing the Court Services Division Annual Report and other multi-year operational tools, and
- Developing and supporting divisional learning and development initiatives
The Criminal/Provincial Offences Act Policy and Programs Branch is responsible for:
- Providing operational support to managers and staff in the criminal courts
- Overseeing the municipal courts that hear Provincial Offences Act matters
- Liaising with the Offices of the Chief Justices and Criminal Law Division on operational and administrative initiatives affecting the criminal and Provincial Offences Act courts
- Providing legal and operational support and advice to senior management on cross-practice area issues such as court reporting and court interpreters
- Supporting judicial and legal appointments, judicial library, and court website services, and
- Providing management information to support management decision-making
The Divisional Support Branch is responsible for:
- Leading business and financial planning
- Supporting facilities and emergency management planning
- Developing operational policy and providing program support to court operations in such areas as exhibit management, jury management, records retention, and court security
- Managing the jury selection process across the province through the Provincial Jury Centre
- Maintaining court documentation and web resources, and
- Coordinating public communications
The Civil/Family Policy and Programs Branch is responsible for:
- Developing, implementing and managing legislative, regulatory and administrative initiatives with respect to the civil and family justice system
- Providing legal, operational, policy and program support to civil and family court and enforcement office staff
- Providing legal, operational, and policy support and advice to senior management on civil/family court and enforcement issues
- Developing, implementing and managing civil justice reform strategies to reduce cost and delay in the civil and family justice system and divert appropriate cases from court
- Managing and developing family mediation and information services in communities across Ontario
- Negotiating and managing the ministry’s share of a federal/provincial/territorial family justice contribution fund
- Participating in the Coordinating Committee of Senior Officials – Family Justice, to collaborate with federal, provincial and territorial officials on areas of joint jurisdiction in family matters
- Participating in the Family and Civil Rules Committees and managing Rules Committee initiatives to improve the family court process, and
- Maintaining the ministry’s public legal information about the family justice system in Ontario
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 Ontario’s highest court. The Court hears:
- Criminal appeals of decisions of the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice in relation to indictable offences
- Appeals from unrepresented inmates who are assisted by duty counsel (heard on alternate months in Kingston and heard monthly in Toronto)
- Motions for leave to appeal and appeals from lower court appellate decisions in relation to summary convictions and provincial offences
- Appeals of final decisions of the Superior Court of Justice in relation to civil and family disputes
- Appeals of final decisions from the Ontario Review Board
- Motions for leave to appeal and appeals of appellate decisions of the divisional court
- Single judge and panel motions brought in relation to appeals before the court, and
- Matters remanded to the court of appeal by the Supreme Court of Canada and matters referred to the court of appeal by the Lieutenant Governor in Council or the Federal Minister of Justice
The Court of Appeal is situated in downtown Toronto at Osgoode Hall. At the end of March 2016, the Court had 29 judges. This included the Chief Justice of Ontario, George Strathy; the Associate Chief Justice of Ontario, Alexandra Hoy; twenty full-time puisne judges; and seven supernumerary judges. Most appeals are heard by panels of three or five judges.
The Court of Appeal is the last avenue of appeal for most Ontario litigants. Although the Court’s decisions can be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, this usually requires leave. The Supreme Court of Canada hears less than 2 percent of the cases that have already been heard by the Court of Appeal.
“We can be proud of our courts and the judges and other judicial officers who deliver on the promise of access to justice every day, in hundreds of courtrooms in every region of this vast province. We can be proud of the dedicated and professional staff of the Ministry of the Attorney General who support the work of the courts and serve the public ... our pride in our system of justice does not blind us to its shortcomings. It makes us want remedy those shortcomings and improve our system.”
The Honourable George R. Strathy
Chief Justice of Ontario
For more information on the Court of Appeal and its history, visit the Court of Appeal website: http://www.ontariocourts.ca/coa/en/ps/
The Superior Court of Justice hears civil, family, and criminal matters, including the following:
- Criminal prosecutions of indictable offences, including some prosecutions involving young persons
- Summary conviction appeals and bail reviews from the Ontario Court of Justice
- All civil proceedings (civil claims under $25, 000 are dealt with in Small Claims Court, a branch of the Superior Court)
- Family law disputes involving divorce or property claims, child and spousal support, and custody and access claims (in its 17 family court branch locations, the Superior Court hears all family cases, including child protection and adoption matters)
- Certain family and civil appeals, and
- The Divisional Court, which is branch of the Superior Court, hears applications for judicial review and statutory appeals from decisions of provincial administrative tribunals, as well as family and civil appeals
The Superior Court sits in over 50 court locations in Ontario. The Court is led by Chief Justice Heather J. Smith. She is supported by Associate Chief Justice Frank Marrocco, who also oversees the Divisional Court and the Small Claims Court on her behalf. 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. Senior Family Justice George Czutrin advises the chief justice on specific matters related to the Family Court and performs other duties relating to family justice throughout the province, as assigned by the chief justice.
“The judges and masters of the Superior Court of Justice could not discharge their judicial duties without the critical support provided by the dedicated and professional members of Court Services Division. On behalf of all members of the Superior Court, I look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the division in furtherance of our common objective – delivering timely, effective, and affordable justice to the public we all serve.”
The Honourable Heather J. Smith
Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice
For more information on the Superior Court of Justice and its history, visit the Superior Court of Justice website: http://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/news/annual-reports/
The Ontario Court of Justice hears criminal and family matters in over 200 locations across the province. Among the matters Ontario Court of Justice judicial officers preside over are:
- Criminal bail hearings, summary conviction prosecutions and preliminary hearings or trials for indictable offences. All criminal cases against youth and adults are commenced in the Ontario Court of Justice and over 98 percent of these cases are completed in this court
- Child protection applications, family law disputes involving custody, access and support, and adoption applications, and
- Provincial Offences Act prosecutions and appeals
Chief Justice Lise Maisonneuve was sworn in as Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice on May 4, 2015, at the conclusion of Chief Justice Annemarie Bonkalo’s eight year term. Associate Chief Justice Peter DeFreitas was sworn in June 3, 2015 to join Associate Chief Justice Coordinator of Justices of the Peace Faith Finnestad to provide support to the Chief Justice. Both Associate Chief Justices have special delegated responsibilities as well as those set out by statute. For the purposes of judicial administration the Ontario Court of Justice has seven regions, each of which has a regional senior judge and a regional senior justice of the peace. Local administrative judges and justices of the peace assist the regional senior judges and regional senior justices of the peace respectively.
“I acknowledge and thank all of the staff of the Court Services Division who work with the Ontario Court of Justice to serve the thousands of people of Ontario who – daily – come before our Court. As the largest and busiest court in Canada, the Ontario Court of Justice is the ‘face of justice’ for most of the people in this province who interact with the justice system. The judges and justices of the peace of our Court are committed to dealing with those who appear in our courtrooms in a fair, impartial, and timely manner. Their hard work is mirrored by the professionalism and dedication of the court staff. We look forward to continuing our work together as we modernize the delivery of court services in this great province. Merci à tous.”
The Honourable Lise Maisonneuve
Chief Justice of the Ontario
Court of Justice
For more information on the Court and its history, visit the Ontario Court of Justice website: www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj
Court of Appeal for Ontario
Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario
Associate Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario
Judges of the Court of Appeal for Ontario (Full-time)
Judges of the Court of Appeal for Ontario (Supernumerary)
Superior Court of Justice
Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice
Associate Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice
Judges of the Superior Court of Justice (Full-time)
Regional Senior Judges of the Superior Court of Justice
Senior Judge of the Family Court
Judges of the Superior Court of Justice (Supernumerary)
Case Management Masters
Judges of the Small Claims Court (Part-time)
Deputy Judges of the Small Claims Court
Ontario Court of Justice
Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice
Associate Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice
Judges of the Ontario Court of Justice (Full-time)
Associate Chief Justice Co-ordinator of Justices of the Peace
Regional Senior Judges
Senior Advisory Family Judge
Judges of the Ontario Court of Justice (per diem)
Justices of the Peace (Full-time)
Senior Advisory Justice of the Peace
Regional Senior Justices of the Peace
Senior Justice of the Peace/Administrator of the Ontario Native Justices of the Peace Program
Senior Justice of the Peace
Justices of the Peace (per diem)
The division is a true partnership between corporate branches, regional offices, and local courts. This is demonstrated by the ongoing work of the subject matter operational technical tables 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 technical tables and policy 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.
In 2015, the ministry wound down the Justice on Target (JOT) strategy and transitioned to the Criminal Justice Modernization Branch. The branch supports the work of the Ontario Court of Justice Criminal Justice Modernization Committee which aims to build on JOT’s achievements and promote more timely, fair and effective resolution of criminal cases through judicial leadership and collaboration with justice sector partners.
While the branch was part of Court Services Division it worked on several projects, including:
- Implementing the Ontario Court of Justice Judicial Pre-Trial Best Practices pilot
- Developing the e-Telewarrant process where police submit warrant applications electronically after regular court hours and Justices of the Peace approve warrants by digitally signing and returning via encrypted email, and
- Developing a judicial bail and remand endorsement form pilot to provide continuity of case management information to judicial officers regarding previous bail/remand appearances
On January 21st, 2016, the Deputy announced the formation of a new Modernization Division for the ministry, which came into effect on February 8th, 2016.
The Modernization Division leads the strategic development, implementation and integration of initiatives, focusing on modernizing the delivery of ministry services. Four existing ministry program areas, previously belonging to other divisions within the ministry were transferred to the new division:
- The team formerly working with the Executive Lead, Modernization in the Court Services Division (CSD), and providing dedicated capacity for CSD modernization initiatives
- The Innovation Office, which provides strategic oversight to lead and coordinate modernization in MAG
- The Criminal Justice Modernization Branch, whose primary objective is to ensure collaboration and leadership with a focus on improving the processing of cases in the criminal justice system, and
- The Analytics Branch provides expertise to the Ministry in the integration and transformation of data into insight supporting evidence based decisions
Criminal Electronic Order Production
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 – was largely completed with province-wide implementation in 2014.
These 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 has significantly expedited the production of court orders, thereby significantly reducing wait times for clients. In pilot sites, order processing times were reduced from 2-3 hours to 15-25 minutes.
In 2016, the division has again been working closely with the Office of the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice to conceptualize and implement the next phase of this e-Orders initiative, which would include electronic Youth Sentence Orders and the auto-population of half a dozen ancillary orders (relating to DNA analysis, the Sex Offender Information Registry Act, and driving and weapons prohibitions).
Family Electronic Order Production
The ministry developed an electronic family order production tool which is being piloted in partnership with Legal Aid Ontario. The e-order tool assists in the production of same day orders for self-represented litigants. It is also used by court staff to more quickly create court orders. The tool is an interactive form that includes:
- An editable and easily navigable list of the ministry’s standard clauses
- Multiple blank fields to enable data entry or cutting and pasting of non-standard clauses, and
- auto-populate features to eliminate repetitive data entry requirements (e.g., party and children’s names)
The e-order tool also has the ability to produce all types of family orders, including orders requesting an investigation by the Office of the Children’s Lawyer in a custody/access dispute. It also has the ability to produce associated forms required to enforce an order of the court. For example, the automatic creation of a support deduction order for enforcement of child/spousal support orders.
Court Services Division continues to improve the electronic order tool with a view to making it publicly available. The tool could be used to assist parties to quickly and accurately prepare minutes of settlement and convert them into final orders for review by a judge. The tool continues to be piloted with Legal Aid Ontario.
Online Child Support
The Ministries of the Attorney General, Finance, Community and Social Services, and Government and Consumer Services have developed an online child support service to allow separated parents to set up and update child support in a simple, fast, and affordable manner outside the court system. The service began accepting cases on April 4, 2016.
To access online child support services, go to: https://www.ontario.ca/page/set-up-or-update-child-support-online
Small Claims E-Filing
The Small Claims Court e-filing pilot launched in August 2014 in Brampton, Oshawa, Ottawa, and Richmond Hill Small Claims Courts and expanded across the province in March of 2015. While the pilot was limited to claims for money owing under a contract or agreement, individuals and businesses can file any type of small claim and pay fees online, 24 hours a day, as of April 3, 2016.
There are two convenient ways to file online:
- 'Filing Wizard' can help people representing themselves and who are unfamiliar with the Small Claims Court process. The wizard guides users through the process of creating and submitting Small Claims Court documents and paying fees online
- 'Quick File' allows legal professionals and regular users of Small Claims Court to quickly and easily upload court documents that have already been completed offline
Small Claims Court e-filing is delivered securely through ServiceOntario.
Visit www.ontario.ca/smallclaims for more information.
Online Next Day Court Dockets
The division supported the launch of the online “Next Day Court Dockets” website. Since April 2014, court users who would normally obtain next day case event information by telephoning or attending a courthouse can obtain this information from the internet. The website provides court users with basic next day case information for criminal, civil, small claims, family, and divisional court matters and is available at www.ontariocourtdates.ca. The website received over 3 million visits since its launch in April 2014.
Civil Enforcement Service Delivery Review
In partnership with the Modernization Division, CSD has undertaken a review of the delivery of civil enforcement services (court and tribunal order enforcement) in Ontario to modernize and streamline processes to deliver the best possible value to Ontarians. The review consisted of an analysis of the historical context of civil enforcement in Canada and Ontario specifically, a review of alternative civil enforcement models, and an internal and public consultation that took place from January 20 to March 18, 2016. The results of the review and feedback from the consultation are being considered.
Mental Health Initiatives
Court Services Division continued to participate on the Interministerial Mental Health and Justice Committee, a forum for ongoing discussions about various mental health issues affecting the justice system. This committee is comprised of officials from the Ministries of the Attorney General, Health and Long Term Care, Community Safety and Correctional Services, Children and Youth Services, and Community and Social Services.
The division is working collaboratively with colleagues in the Criminal Law Division and other ministries to ensure timelier and better-coordinated access to mental health assessments for accused persons across the province.
The Criminal/Provincial Offences Act Policy and Programs Branch reviews and assesses the impact of federal bills amending the Criminal Code on court administration as well as other federal legislation in the area of criminal law. In 2015-16, the branch supported the implementation of the following bills:
- C-26 The Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act
- C-32 The Victims Bill of Rights Act
- C-35 The Justice for Animals in Service Act
- C-51 The Anti-Terrorism Act
- S-7 The Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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 Small Claims Court. Associate Chief Justice Alexandra Hoy is the Chair of the Civil Rules Committee.
Effective September 1, 2015, the administrative dismissal rules for the Small Claims Court were amended to extend timelines for automatic dismissal orders.
Rule changes effective January 1, 2016 established uniform procedures to be followed in estates matters that had not previously been addressed by the rules, such as:
- Contested passing of accounts
- Obtaining certain non-prescribed “certificates” that confirm an estate trustee’s status, and
- Court-ordered mediation outside Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor
The rule changes also established a requirement to submit proof of death on an application for a certificate of appointment as estate trustee.
Rule changes effective March 31, 2016 expanded the availability of electronic filing beyond liquidated claims to all claims in the Small Claims Court. The rules were also changed to allow plaintiffs to obtain default judgment electronically or to file an amended claim electronically.
Family Law Rules
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 Mary Lou Benotto of the Court of Appeal for Ontario.
In May 2015, the Family Rules Committee made the following amendments to the rules:
- Rules 1, 17 and 23 have been amended to provide the court with the ability to make certain procedural orders at any point in a case
- Amendments to rule 16 (summary judgment) such that its provisions track the summary judgment provisions of the Rules of Civil Procedure and reflect the principles enunciated by the Supreme Court of Canada in Hryniak v. Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7.
- Amendments to rules 13, 17 and 19 clarifying parties’ obligations to provide financial disclosure to one another in support and property cases. In particular, the rules have been amended to provide financial disclosure at a very early stage in a family law case and make explicit what types of information must be disclosed in relation to property and support claims. Two new forms were developed alongside these amendments to the rules: a Comparison of Net Family Property Statements form and a Certificate of Disclosure
- Amendments to rule 6 (service) to include the ability, for parties who provide consent, to be able to serve court documents by e-mail. Additionally, the service rule was also amended to allow service through an electronic document exchange and the maximum number of pages served via fax increased from 16 to 20 pages
Family Court Services
Since fall 2011, families across the province have had access to:
- A mandatory information program
- Both on-site and off-site family mediation to help families work out solutions outside the courtroom, and
- Information and referral coordinators who help direct and connect potential litigants to services in the community that assist with family breakdown, including counselling and support services and alternatives to litigation
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. The term of the current service contracts is three years, from April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2017, with two one-year extension options on the same terms and conditions.
Dispute Resolution Office (DRO) Program
The Superior Court of Justice launched the Dispute Resolution Officer (DRO) program in Toronto in 1996. The DRO program has now expanded to eight other locations: Barrie, Brampton, Durham, Hamilton, Milton and Newmarket, London, and St. Catherine’s. London and St. Catherine’s are currently operating as pilot sites.
DROs are private sector lawyers who have been selected by the regional senior justice to hear first case conferences, primarily in motions to change cases but in other cases as well if they have been specifically referred to them by a judge.
On September 9, 2014, the Attorney General of Ontario entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice regarding the DRO program. The Attorney General has agreed to pay a honourarium in the amount of $250 per session to the DROs at all existing locations except London and St. Catherine’s which continue to operate on a pilot basis.
The MOU also sets out the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in the selection of DROs and the delivery of the program.
In fall 2014, the ministry ran a competitive process to create a panel of DROs. The ministry worked closely with the Superior Court of Justice to create the panel. The ministry will be working with the Superior Court of Justice to develop tools to evaluate the program.
Attorney General’s Justice Roundtable
The Attorney General’s Justice Roundtable provides a forum for the judiciary and senior level representatives of stakeholder organizations to discuss potential ways to promote access to criminal and family justice. The Justice Roundtable is supported by separate Criminal and Family Justice Tables, comprised of subject matter experts. These tables consider specific issues referred to them by the Attorney General, and report back to the Justice Roundtable on those issues.
The first Justice Roundtable was held on June 22, 2015, where the Family and Criminal Justice Tables were introduced to the issues they will be reporting back. The Criminal Justice Table was led by Criminal Law Division and focused on improving access to justice for persons with mental health issues.
The Family Justice Table was co-chaired by Senior Family Justice Czutrin, Senior Advisory Family Justice Paulseth, Lynne Wagner, former Assistant Deputy Attorney General, Court Services Division (2015 meetings) and Irwin Glasberg, Assistant Deputy Attorney General of Policy Division (2016 meetings). The Table was asked to focus on the following three priorities:
- Whether a triage process can be implemented in family court
- the use of technology for family cases, and
- Whether the Family Law Rules and forms can be improved
The first two meetings of the Family Justice Table were held on October 1 and 29, 2015, and focused on the issue of triage. The Family Justice Table considered what an effective triage program might resemble, and discussed two potential pilot project ideas: A pre-application triage pilot and an enhanced first appearance court/dispute resolution office initial case conference triage pilot.
The second Justice Roundtable was held on November 27, 2015, at which time both Tables reported back on their discussions.
The next two Family Justice Roundtables are scheduled for April 14 and 27, 2016. The
Two Family Justice Roundtables are scheduled for April 14 and 27, 2016. The April 14, 2016 meeting will focus on the use of technology for family cases. The April 27, 2016 meeting will focus on the Family Law Rules and forms.
The third Justice Roundtable will be held on May 12, 2016, at which time both the Family and Criminal Justice Tables will report back on their further discussions.
Legal Information vs. Legal Advice Pilot
The legal information vs. legal advice pilot was launched in November 2015 to help court staff and court users better understand the distinction between legal information and legal advice. Windsor and Kitchener were selected as the pilot sites for this project, and the pilot included both the family and Small Claims Court business lines in these locations. A working group comprised of staff from both the Windsor and Kitchener courts was established to provide input and direction on the development of the pilot and its materials.
The pilot involved:
- Training court staff on guidelines, and then asking staff to follow these guidelines for a period of up to six months
- Posting a public-facing poster outlining the services that court staff can and cannot provide in a prominent area within both pilot locations, and
- Surveying court staff before and after the pilot to determine whether the guidelines helped them to better understand the distinction between legal information and legal advice
An evaluation of the pilot is currently being conducted; however initial feedback indicates that the training went well and the materials were well received.
Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities
The division continues to be committed to providing accessible court services in Ontario. New requirements under the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) came into effect on January 1, 2016, which required all ministry internet sites to meet accessibility standards as outlined in the IASR. These new requirements under the IASR build on previously existing ministry policies and practices. Court Services Division staff and management worked diligently to ensure that its public websites, such as the Ontario Court Forms website, met the standards outlined in the IASR by January 1, 2016.
The division continues to train management and staff on accessible formats and communications support. Court Services Division responded to several individual requests for accessible formats of documents and communication supports when requested, at no additional charge.
Courthouse accessibility coordinators are available at each court location and are fundamental to the delivery of accessible services and have supported a range of disability-related accommodation requests, such as the provision of sign language interpretation, assistive listening devices, real-time captioning, document filing, and mobility around the courthouses. Wheelchairs and assistive listening devices are also available in all courthouses to support persons with disabilities.
In 2015, the division worked with its municipal partners to ensure that each municipal Provincial Offences Act (POA) courthouse identified a Municipal Courthouse Accessibility Coordinator and made this contact information available to the public. The Municipal Courthouse Accessibility Coordinator will address accessibility questions and requests for disability-related accommodation in a manner similar to the service in ministry courthouses.
Court Services Division is committed to providing ongoing training and support to the ministry’s accessibility coordinators. Many of the division’s accessibility coordinators participated in the training sessions on Understanding the Needs of People who are Deaf, Deafened, or Hard of Hearing in fall 2015. This training featured speakers from the Deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing community, including a counsellor from the Canadian Hearing Society and the Executive Director of the Ontario Association for the Deaf. The session was very well received. Participants commented that they gained practical insights and tips, and learned more about providing accessible and responsive services to this community.
The division continues to be committed to the goal of improving the availability of qualified sign language interpreters in court for people who are Deaf. In 2015, a visual language interpreter strategy was proposed and received approval. The strategy addresses the difficulties of securing sign language interpreters in the courts and the need for educational sessions for staff who work in the courts. It is expected that this strategy will be implemented in the 2016/17 fiscal year.
The Courts Accessibility Subcommittee continued to meet regularly to provide advice about accessibility priorities and plans for the division. This committee is chaired by a regional director and includes representatives from divisional branches, regions, Victims and Vulnerable Persons Division, Criminal Law Division, and Provincial Offences Act (POA) municipal court partners. In 2015, the subcommittee provided input on a variety of initiatives including the Accessible Built Environment Implementation Policy, wheelchair and assistive listening device procurement, Accessibility Coordinator and Lead training, and a brochure being developed to help share information in the community about the courthouse Accessibility Coordinator Service.
Several facilities projects focused on increasing accessibility for courthouse users by removing barriers in courthouses. In 2015, a number of projects were initiated to solely address accessibility concerns in ministry buildings. Some examples include: automatic doors at the 47 Sheppard Ave. Courthouse in Toronto and St. Catharines Courthouse; height adjustable tables at the Brampton Courthouse; accessible washroom fixtures at the L’Orignal Courthouse; and accessible paths at the Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse.
The ministry is working on a strategy to prioritize improvements to existing ministry buildings to improve accessibility by 2025. To assist the ministry in meeting the requirements of the act and going beyond minimum requirements, the ministry has retained the services of a consultant to complete an audit of all ministry buildings to identify where we currently meet and do not meet the requirements of the act and identify opportunities to make major improvements in areas of high impact. In 2015, 102 MAG facilities were audited. Upon completion of this audit, the results will be used by the ministry to develop a list of priority accessibility projects. The division continues to work closely with Facilities Management Branch, who has the lead for this work.
French Language Services
Court Services Division co-chaired and led the work of the French Language Services (FLS) Bench and Bar Response Steering Committee, established in spring 2013 with a two-year mandate to review and advise on the recommendations of the 2012 Access to Justice in French report. In 2015-16, the division drafted and translated the committee’s extensive final report, Enhancing Access to Justice in French: A Response to the Access to Justice in French Report, which was delivered to the Attorney General in June 2015 and is posted on the ministry’s public web site. This report outlined the many initiatives that have been undertaken to enhance justice in French in Ontario.
The Steering Committee reviewed recommendations for establishing a framework for addressing regional FLS issues, and in 2015, Court Services Division finalized the terms of reference and assisted with the coordination of initial meetings of new FLS Regional Committees, including representation from the judiciary, Legal Aid Ontario, and various ministry divisions.
A Seamless Access to Justice in French Pilot Project was initiated by the Ministry of the Attorney General in partnership with Ontario’s chief justices and launched in May 2015 at the Ottawa Courthouse. The ministry lead for this project is from the Court Services Division. The pilot project highlights the active offer of service and raising awareness of language rights, as well as other means of enhancing access to justice in French. This pilot will run until December 2016.
Court Services Division continues to participate in the Annual Justice Sector Francophone Stakeholders’ Meetings and on the related advisory committee, to better understand the needs of French-speaking clients. The division has been focusing on raising staff awareness of language rights and French language services obligations to assist them in in providing high-quality service in French. In 2015-16, a training session on FLS strategies and language rights was developed and delivered to all regional management teams.
Court interpreting is a highly skilled profession and Court Services Division continues to foster relationships in order to support the profession and share information and best practices. In 2015-16, the division continued to focus on the recruitment and testing of high demand and rare languages, adding 36 new interpreter listings to its Registry of Accredited Freelance Court Interpreters in these languages. The division also continued to offer test preparation classes to supplement online test preparation materials.
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.
Revisions to the court interpreter section of the ministry’s public website were undertaken, with new content expected online by May 2016. These revisions will update the website content, and will be more user-friendly for members of the public seeking information on interpretation services in the courts.
In 2015, the division finalized its strategy for improving access to American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters. Work is currently underway to determine the best approach to implement the strategy.
In 2015, an improved juror questionnaire to determine eligibility for jury service was developed and implemented for the 2016 jury roll. The new questionnaire is the product of community engagement sessions that were led by the Debwewin Jury Review Implementation Committee. The changes to the juror questionnaire have helped to address key recommendations stemming from the Honourable Frank Iacobucci’s report First Nations Representation on Ontario Juries, which can be found online at www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/about/pubs/default.asp#iacobucci.
Debwewin continues to work on recommendations relating to the jury questionnaire and the Juries Act.
In addition, improved juror information has been added to the ministry’s jury duty website to support the public during the jury process.
Accessible Court Forms
In partnership with Ontario Shared Services, Court Services Division completed the conversion of over 500 court forms and documents posted on the Ontario court forms website to an accessible PDF compliant format for both English and French versions of the forms.
In addition to the PDF accessible versions, the ministry continues to extend an active offer for alternative formats to ensure accessibility for all Ontarians in compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act, 2005.
Access to Court Records
The Court Services Division worked with the judiciary to review the policies and procedures on public access to court records, which were first compiled in 2006, and are posted on the ministry’s website.
A number of sections were updated and clarified, including access to search warrants, production orders, and sealed records. The revisions simplified the language, clarified the use of technological devices, and enhanced public information about various court processes. The revisions promote openness and transparency by providing greater access for media and members of the public.
Digital Recording Devices
The division continues to manage all aspects required to maintain its extensive fleet of digital recording devices (DRDs), including system enhancements such as the electronic uploading of docket information into the annotated digital recording. In 2015, the docket extraction initiative was implemented across court sites, allowing staff to quickly upload docket information such as the case name, information, and indictment number into the digital recording annotations. The automatic uploading of docket information supports accurate transcription and creates efficiencies for courtroom staff.
Electronic Delivery of Recordings to Authorized Court Transcriptionists
In 2015, the division commenced the development of an electronic delivery system (“e-Delivery”) which will allow staff to instantaneously send digital court recordings and any related documents to authorized court transcriptionists for the purpose of transcript production. This new system will modernize how recordings are provided to authorized court transcriptionists. E-Delivery will also improve the service delivery to Ontarians who rely on the court record for the preparation of their transcripts as the recordings will be securely delivered in a timely manner.
Court Transcription Curriculum
As of June 2014, individuals wishing to become an authorized court transcriptionist are required to complete qualification training and testing through an Ontario educational institution recognized by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU). Training and qualifications are administered by the educational institutions. The Ministry of the Attorney General supports colleges recognized by MTCU in developing their curriculum by providing access to transcript standards as set by legislation, regulation, policy, and practice direction. Previously, Durham College was the only college offering the court transcription course.
In 2015-16, the ministry worked with the following four colleges to develop their court transcription curriculums:
- Ontario College of Law in Etobicoke (course offered online)
- Centennial College in Scarborough
- Algonquin College in Ottawa
- Sault College in Sault Ste. Marie
Establishing a court transcription course in colleges across the province provides more opportunity for individuals who are interested in becoming authorized court transcriptionists, and ensures there are a sufficient number of authorized court transcriptionists available to meet Ontario’s transcript production volume of work.
Training Initiatives for Court Staff and Managers
Court Services Division is committed to providing effective training to all divisional employees 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 professional, skilled, and engaged workforce.
In 2015, the division completed the delivery of half-day training sessions to court staff on customer service in a court environment, in support of the division’s commitment to provide quality customer service. New court staff can complete this mandatory training by watching a recorded version from their desktop or in a group setting facilitated by a supervisor.
The division launched a new management and leadership development program for supervisors and managers as a part of the division’s succession management strategy. The Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) program provides supervisors and managers with the skills and competencies they need to be able to lead the division through the implementation of the division’s Strategic Plan by providing ongoing learning opportunities.
The LEAD program is comprised of several different components, including the delivery of classroom learning with a focus on being a leader-manager in the division. For example, in November 2015, the division launched a one-day course entitled, “Fostering a Culture of Customer Service in Courts.” The course complements the staff training on customer service and provides participants with skills and tools to effectively build and manage a client-focused team. Court managers will continue to have the opportunity to participate in various LEAD program classroom learning over the coming years.
The division’s management team also attended an annual two-day learning event in May and June 2015. The learning events gave managers the opportunity to provide input into the division’s modernization strategy and share best practices with colleagues.
Court Services Division continues to demonstrate its commitment to supporting a professional and respectful workplace. All staff are required to complete training on supporting a professional and respectful workplace as part of their orientation. All new managers are also required to complete a Management Awareness Session within the first six months of employment. During this session, new managers learn strategies to effectively support the division’s professional and respectful workplace initiative.
Each year, the Operational 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.
Specialized Court Support Services Certificate Program
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 include training on pre-court, in-court, and post-court related functions, as well as ethics, courtroom procedures and legal terminology.
In 2015-16, the division also entered an agreement with Collège Boréal in support of their new online French Court Support Services Certificate Program, which will launch in fall 2016.
Client Satisfaction Surveys
In January and February 2016, the division conducted its annual Client Satisfaction Survey. The survey was conducted online and in person at 18 court locations across the province and focused on client satisfaction with court counter services for the civil, family, criminal, and Small Claims Court practice areas. The survey measures organizational performance, not personal performance of staff members.
In total, 1, 558 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, 89 percent of clients agreed or strongly agreed they were satisfied with the court counter service they received. In addition, 92 percent of respondents indicated that, during their court visit, they were treated in a courteous, professional, and respectful manner by court counter staff.
The survey also assessed client satisfaction with the division’s French language and accessibility services. 89 per cent of clients who requested French language services (FLS) indicated that they were satisfied with the FLS received. 84 per cent of clients who requested disability-related services indicated that they were satisfied with the accessibility services received.
A new question was introduced in the 2015-16 Client Satisfaction Survey to determine if clients were made aware that counter service was offered in French at the courthouse they visited. The addition of this question will assist the division in assessing whether French counter service is being proactively offered in areas that are designated under the French Language Service Act to provide services to the public in French. The new question was added in response to recommendations from the 2012 Access to Justice in French report that the ministry recommit to delivering FLS based on the concept of active offer. Within the designated FLS court locations surveyed, 47 percent of those who responded to the survey indicated that they were made aware that counter service was offered in French. The division will use these benchmark results to determine what staff training and/or additional visual aids may be necessary to promote the active offer of service in French.
Municipal Administration of Provincial Offences Courts
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 2015-16, 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:
- Working with the Ministries of Transportation, Finance, and Municipal Affairs and Housing, as well as municipal stakeholder associations to improve the municipal enforcement of defaulted POA fines
- Working with the ministry’s Modernization Division as well as municipal and justice stakeholders on a key project to modernize and improve POA processes and service delivery
- Pursing amendments to regulations to give municipalities greater flexibility to establish local parking enforcement systems
- Working with municipal partners to enhance municipal court accessibility, including the identification of municipal courthouse accessibility coordinators for every municipal courthouse across the province
- Increasing the administrative fee added when a POA fine goes into default from $20 to $40 to encourage timely fine payment, increasing municipal POA revenues by more than $21M per year
- Hosting regular meetings between senior divisional representatives and municipal partner representatives to facilitate communication, collaboration, and consultation
- Working with municipal partners and Francophone stakeholders to enhance the delivery of French Language Services in municipally-administered courts, including focused work through a dedicated French Language Services subcommittee of the POA Table
Legal Appointments Office
Through the Legal Appointments Office, the division is responsible for processing applications from members of the public for appointments as commissioners for taking affidavits and non-lawyer notaries public.
In 2015-16, the legal appointments office received 9, 228 requests for commissioner appointments and 523 requests for notary public appointments.
Judicial Appointments Office
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. It also supports the appointment of case management masters and Small Claims Court deputy judges, both of whom preside in the Superior Court of Justice.
Judicial appointments for the Ontario Court of Justice are made by the Lieutenant Governor in Council upon the recommendation of the Attorney General. The Attorney General will recommend for appointment as a provincial judge or justice of the peace only a candidate who has been recommended by the independent Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee. More information about these committees is available on their websites at www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/jaac and www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/jpaac.
In 2015-16, 50 judicial appointments were processed: 17 provincial judges, two regional senior justices, two regional senior justices of the peace, one chief justice, one associate chief justice, two case management masters, and 25 deputy judges.
Judicial Library Services
Judicial Library Services provides support to 85 judicial libraries across the province, as well as to the library committees for each court. 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. In addition to the library functions, Judicial Library Services maintains the websites for 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.
The division continues to work with its partners at the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS), the Ontario Provincial Police, and municipal police services to ensure the safety and security of all court facilities and those who work or visit these facilities. Throughout 2014, the division worked closely with our justice partners such as the judiciary, MCSCS, and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police to ensure that local court security committees continue to play an important role in addressing court security at the local level. The division developed a regular monitoring process to track the progress of these committees to verify that they continue to meet regularly and ensure court security plans are in place.
Within the Ministry of the Attorney General, the Corporate Services Management Division (CSMD) has the lead responsibility for capital planning and strategic oversight of the ministry’s real estate portfolio through its Facilities Management Branch (FMB). 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 (IO) and the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure to implement capital courthouse improvements.
Asset Management Planning
In summer 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 response, FMB initiated a multi-phase initiative to properly measure and document its major facilities and to undertake audits of their physical condition. In fall 2011, FMB, in collaboration with IO, undertook phase one, 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, phase two of the inventory and asset description was initiated. This phase involved a comprehensive inventory asset description and space measurement of the entire ministry’s clustered agencies and related office space, including hearing/tribunal spaces and related offices. This work was completed in February 2014.
Phase three of the work includes an audit of building conditions. To date, 45 facility audits have been completed on government-owned base courts. The Ministry of the Attorney General is continuing with 56 more facility audits over the next two fiscal years including leased base courts and support offices, and agency/tribunal hearing spaces. Results of the audits will be placed into a computer program which will provide a report each year by building to allow the ministry to identify where life cycle maintenance investment is required. This project will be complete in 2018-19.
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.
Renovations and Expansions
The ministry is committed to investing in courthouse renovation and expansion projects to address facility performance matters. Examples of projects recently underway at court locations include: Expansion of the Brampton Courthouse and major holding cell renovations at the St. Catharines Courthouse.
In July 2015, SMC approved a list of 114 new project opportunities that would be used for two fiscal years (2015-16 and 2016-17). The status of those opportunities include 19 completed projects; 74 currently in progress; and 21 in business case development & under review.
Currently, the ministry has 131 active facility projects.
New Courthouse Construction
Through the Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) delivery methodology, FMB in partnership with the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure and Infrastructure Ontario, are developing the new Toronto Courthouse on behalf of the ministry. The AFP model uses private sector expertise and financing to build vital infrastructure, such as courthouses.
Zero-based Budgeting (ZBB)
2015-16 was the first full year that regional resource allocations were based on the Zero-Based Budgeting (ZBB) model. In the past, budgets were allocated on an incremental basis built on prior years’ expenditures and adjusted for changes in the business. Starting in 2013-14, this team began developing a ground up approach to regional budgets that looked at what was actually needed to run a courthouse based on workload metrics by practice area. The ZBB model takes an informed, metric-based approach to financial and staff resource allocation that combines workload, FTE (staff), and expenditure information. It is comprised of benchmarks, ratios, trends, and organizational models to drive resource allocation. This process will be instrumental in helping CSD manage its fiscal pressures and foster a culture change where resources are allowed to shift to where the work is.
The CSD Financial Administration Manual was launched on March 1, 2016. The manual provides an authoritative source and training tool for all CSD managers and staff in performing financial tasks in the courts. The tools and processes contained within the manual will help CSD introduce a standard policy framework to align with recommendations made by the Ontario Internal Audit Division (OIAD).
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 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 pages.
Director: Sarina Kashak
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 eight 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 a high growth rate.
There have been many facility projects at the Barrie Courthouse this past year. They are undergoing a major parking lot reconstruction which will include a new layout. A roofing project in Barrie is expected to be completed late spring 2017 and an elevator project, which will include barrier-free access, commenced in the fall of 2016.
The Bracebridge Courthouse is in the planning stage for phase one of its renovations. Phase one includes the construction of a larger courtroom which will be to AODA standards. These renovations will also include a judicial chamber and three new interview rooms. Phase two includes office space for the Victim Witness Office which will include four offices and two interview rooms.
The Lindsay Courthouse was pleased to provide office space for the Canadian Mental Health Association in February 2016. This now provides the CMHA and other community partners a private place to meet with clients when they have matters before the courts. This change allows us to continue to assist in the delivery of accessible court services and work collaboratively with our justice partners in providing more service options.
A Court Security Study is taking place at the Lindsay Courthouse that involves input from all court stakeholders. Court Security Plans have been developed for all court locations in the region and all locations have also had the lockdown, hold and secure and shelter in place training.
The electronic telewarrant initiative continues in Durham and Newmarket. This pilot began in cooperation with Waterloo and Peel Regional Police Services. The pilot evolved out of the judiciary and police services wanting to enhance the current telewarrant system in Ontario to support electronic filing of warrant applications. The process allows police to scan the warrant and e-mail it to the justice of the peace. The pilot was successful and, to date, there has been 28 justices of the peace from Central East Region trained on e-telewarrants. This initiative is now being rolled out to all police services in the province. As of May 2016, there have been 1, 930 police officers trained in the use of the electronic telewarrant.
In order to modernize and improve efficiencies, the region has reviewed many of its practices and processes. Efficiencies were found in the enforcement, and Trust and Finance areas. Some of the changes include the mailing of eviction notices and landlord eviction confirmations.
A centralized enforcement schedule to assist in realizing greater efficiencies and savings in scheduling enforcement officers throughout the region is being developed. Trust and Finance offices for Peterborough, Lindsay and Cobourg were amalgamated. Trust and Finance for all three centres is now processed from the Lindsay court office.
Central East Region has seen a large number of recruitment competitions this past year. The region is in the process of implementing a new staffing model which includes the position of court and client representative. This new position provides the court office with scheduling flexibility depending on the requirements of the day. To date the region has hired 130 court and client representatives.
The region has also implemented a regional trainer position. This position travels throughout the region providing initial and refresher training to all Ontario Court of Justice courtroom clerks to ensure consistent procedures are followed in all courthouses throughout the region.
Director: Pauline Moustacalis
Central West Region is the most populous of the seven Court Services Division regions, serving a diverse and multicultural population of over three million people through 14 court locations. The region is home to Niagara Falls, Lester B. Pearson International Airport and Ontario’s largest First Nations reserve – the Six Nations of the Grand River.
Across the region, courthouses continue to be upgraded and renovated to respond to the growing needs of local communities. In Brampton, consultations regarding the permanent addition to the A. Grenville and William Davis Courthouse have been completed; the project is targeted for completion in fall 2018.
Planning for the St. Catharines Holding Cell Expansion Project at the Robert S.K. Welch Courthouse is underway. The project will provide a new prisoner transport elevator, replace existing prisoner transport elevators, and expand holding cell space.
In March 2016 at the Unified Family Courthouse in Hamilton, renovations improving accessibility to the judicial dais and facility upgrades were completed in Courtroom 3.
At the Milton Courthouse, Courtroom 10 has been outfitted with an accessible jury box, a larger prisoner box, a voice uplift system, and distinct prisoner access. Mechanical upgrades have also improved air quality, and the adjacent retiring room and jury room were refreshed. Exterior directional signage has also been installed to assist the public.
Courthouses within the region have implemented initiatives to improve customer service and streamline processes. An express service option has been implemented at the Superior Court of Justice in Brampton. Once an order has been signed, counsel or self-represented parties who have an order prepared prior to court are directed to the information desk where the clerk provides them with an express service ticket.
This streamlined process has reduced congestion at the Superior Court of Justice trial office window and improved communication at this window between clients and court staff.
At the Milton Courthouse, installation of a central bulletin board containing all daily court dockets has resulted in more efficient customer service.
Civil and family court orders requiring signatures in Brampton and Record Suspension Court Information forms/US Waiver requests in Hamilton are now being processed at the counter, resulting in improved service efficiency.
The Indigenous Persons Court in Brantford, introduced in January 2014, has increased its sittings from twice a month to three times per month. The specialized court now hears both adult and youth guilty pleas.
The Dispute Resolution Officer (DRO) project has been implemented in St. Catharines as of May 2015. Family litigants at this court location are now provided with a neutral third party who performs an early evaluation of their case in order to narrow the issues in dispute and facilitate settlement.
Modernization continues to be a priority in the region. The scanning and saving of criminal court documents and family court orders onto shared drives has been implemented region-wide. This initiative has resulted in time savings for stakeholders and court staff.
As of January 9, 2016, accused persons in custody are now able to attend Weekend and Statutory Hearing (WASH) court in St. Catharines via video from the Niagara Regional Police Service central holding facility. Once release paperwork is processed, it is scanned and emailed directly to the holding facility. The modernization of this process has resulted in the efficient use of court time and cost savings for prisoner transport.
Also in St. Catharines, conference phones are now available at the Superior Court of Justice assignment court to allow counsel to attend via teleconference for set-date appearances.
In bail court at the Halton Courthouse, a computer monitor has been installed on the dais to allow the justices of the peace to view release papers as they are being produced by the courtroom clerk. Modernizing this bail court process has resulted in improved accuracy, timely paperwork, and the realization of cost efficiencies as a result of average overall print reduction.
The region continues to support staff training and development. Staff have attended various training opportunities including Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) courses, “Resumes that Rock” and “Management Is It for Me” sessions, as well as Estates and Search Warrant Tracking System training. Staff also continue to participate in cross training, all mandatory training, and local training opportunities.
Director: Danielle Manton
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.
A number of facility projects were initiated and completed in several court locations in the East Region. The Ottawa Courthouse completed a significant portion of the enhanced surveillance and security project. This phase included the installation of magnetometers, x-ray screening devices, optical portals, and a new queuing area at the Ottawa Courthouse entrance. Major renovations to the holding cells space of the Ontario Court of Justice in Kingston commenced and are ongoing. Enhancements to the audio system in three courtrooms in the Pembroke Courthouse were completed.
As an important access to justice initiative, Ontario implemented a pilot project where Ontario’s Chief Justices partnered with the ministry to provide timely and seamless access to justice in French at the Ottawa Courthouse. The pilot project was launched in May 2015. The project has a strong emphasis on the concept of active offer and aims to reduce challenges for French-speaking litigants, lawyers, and others using the Ontario court system in Ottawa. Numerous innovative measures and practices have been implemented including the installation of additional signs indicating that French language services (FLS) are offered; the provision of active offer of FLS training and tip sheets to over 200 Ottawa Courthouse staff and other building tenants; the installation of large screens and brochure cases displaying French language rights information in criminal, family, civil and small claims matters; and, the addition of French-language rights information to police release forms. This project will help identify best practices for improving access to justice in French for Ontarians.
Technological upgrades were made in the Ottawa Courthouse to allow for automated means of communication and to accommodate larger than usual attendance for high profile matters. A video link was installed between a courtroom and the jury assembly room, which allowed for live viewing of courtroom proceedings for an additional 100 members of the public and media. Q-matic stations were installed near the criminal counter and Family Law Information Centre, which will enable the public to view their queuing status and other general courthouse information, once activated.
CSD staff connected with their ministry colleagues from other divisions during the Regional Roundtable that was hosted by ministry senior officials in Ottawa. Management and staff engaged in Courtside Chats, which were held in most base court locations in the region.
The chats gave management and staff an opportunity to discuss and share ideas on modernization and employee engagement initiatives implemented across the division, regionally, and locally.
Staff members were offered the opportunity to attend career development training sessions held in person in Ottawa. The training focused on developing a resumé and covering letter. Those staff who attended unanimously agreed that the material presented and tools provided would greatly assist them in exploring professional opportunities.
Courts continue to remain connected to their local communities by sponsoring school tours, hosting mock trials, and participating in local fundraising activities.
Director: Cathy Kulos
Seventy percent of the population for northern Ontario resides in the Northeast Region. There are significant Francophone and Indigenous populations in the region and court services are regularly provided in French, Cree and Ojibway. The Northeast Region encompasses nine base court locations and 26 satellite courts. Five satellite court locations are located on First Nations reserves. Five of the satellite courts in the region are remote and can only be reached by aircraft.
A new site was secured in March 2015 to hold court in Hearst. The new site combined two facilities in Hearst and reduced the ministry’s footprint by 1, 152 square feet. Court was heard for the first time at the site in September 2015.
As a result of the recommendations made by the Ontario Court of Justice, Ministry of the Attorney General Joint Fly-In Court Working Group, a process was developed to standardize payments to Indigenous communities for the use of their facilities. A Working Group was also established in collaboration with Infrastructure Ontario to secure rental agreements in these communities. In July 2015, a licensing agreement in the community of Kashechewan was formalized. The committee continues its work on formalizing the leasing of court space in Indigenous communities.
A pilot project was initiated at the North Bay Courthouse in February 2015 to comply with recommendations from independent engineers for additional reinforcing to ensure the long-term integrity of the facility. The pilot project was completed in May 2015 and findings were presented to the ministry. It was determined that a structural retrofit of the building was required and the design and development phase began in June 2015. Interior work of the building began in September 2015 and exterior work is scheduled to begin in summer 2016. The project is expected to be completed in September 2017.
An audio amplification system was installed in Haileybury’s main courtroom in March 2016. This addition has significantly improved the court experience for all users as judiciary, counsel, staff, and members of the public can now clearly hear and understand the full court proceedings. Additionally, video equipment was installed in Haileybury facilitating video remands, remote witness testimony, and remote meetings. This will greatly improve access to justice for court users.
A project was approved in March 2016 to upgrade videoconferencing, audio conferencing, electronic evidence presentation sharing, and install closed circuit AV technology in Sault Ste. Marie. The project commenced in March and is expected to be complete in 2016.
Remote remands (the process of remanding in custody accused persons via telephone) are currently conducted in Hearst, Kapuskasing, Smooth Rock Falls, Cochrane and communities along the James Bay Coast. In April 2015 the remote remand court initiative was expanded to include Kirkland Lake and Haileybury increasing access to justice. This initiative was also implemented in November 2015 between Manitoulin Island and Sudbury resulting in a decrease in prisoner transportation.
In June 2015, the Parry Sound Courthouse was gifted with an eagle feather as an option for Indigenous people to swear an oath in a court proceeding.
In January 2016 WASH court in the Northeast Region was centralized in Sudbury in an effort to improve efficiencies. The region has seen an increase in release rates (32% as of February 2016) compared to previous years (3% in 2014).
In September 2015 the “Video Bail Roll Call” initiative was launched in North Bay. The first bail appearance is conducted via video significantly reducing the number of in-custody transfers. As of May 30, 2016, “Video Bail Roll Call” eliminated the need to transport 285 of 431 (66%) inmates to and from the North Bay Courthouse/jail and on 84 of 178 (47%) days police did not have to transport any inmates to and from the courthouse/jail. This initiative was implemented in Sault Ste. Marie in June 2016.
In 2015-16, French Language Services Lunch and Learn sessions were offered via video conference to staff in the Northeast Region in an effort to improve their French language skills. The facilitator, located in Sudbury, was able to connect via video with participants throughout the region to converse in French.
Courtroom staff members of the Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse were recognized with the Regional Team Excellence in Courts Administration award, Julie Vachon in Sault Ste. Marie was the recipient of the Staff Excellence Award while Josie Demarco in Sault Ste. Marie was given the Management Excellence 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. Additionally, Diane Robitaille from the Haileybury Courthouse was awarded CSD’s Lifetime Achievement Award; she worked a total of 39 years at the Haileybury Courthouse.
Courtside Chats continued in the Northeast Region in 2015-16. The director of court operations hosted a Courtside Chat at each base site in the region. The chats were largely focused on modernization and staff were eager to provide feedback.
Director: Jo Dee Kamm
The Northwest Region includes four base courts and 36 satellite court locations, 22 of which are in Indigenous 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.
The Aboriginal Settlement Conference Suite (ASCS) at the Thunder Bay Courthouse continues to support community-based justice programming, including the Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre and Nishnawbe Aski Legal Services diversion and restorative justice services. The Aboriginal Community Council Program provides diversion programming for youth and adult offenders who are approved for diversion: Talking Together, an alternative justice process focused on child welfare cases, and Maa-Mii-Nah-Chi-Ke-Win, a restorative justice program focused on youth and adult pre- and post-charge reconciliation.
The Thunder Bay Law Association’s Law Day program was held at the Thunder Bay Courthouse on April 14-15, 2016. This annual educational event includes courthouse tours that are open to the public and mock trials for high school students facilitated by the judiciary from the Superior Court of Justice, courtroom staff, and local lawyers.
The Thunder Bay Courthouse was also the recipient of the “Clean and Green Award” from the City of Thunder Bay. Local and regional management from the ministry and Infrastructure Ontario attended a city council meeting to accept this prestigious award.
The spring of 2016 marked the completion of security project at the Fort Frances Courthouse. The infrastructure project included the addition of secure judicial access throughout the courthouse, private access to the jury room, a washroom renewal project that included the renovation of the staff and public washrooms as well as the addition of a universal accessible washroom. These security and accessibility enhancements were a welcomed addition to the courthouse.
The Kenora Courthouse also completed infrastructure projects this year. A new public announcement system is fully operational and being used to page counsel and the public in order to maximize the use of court time. The Ontario Provincial Police also provided staff and stakeholders with emergency training, which included using the paging system in the event of an emergency. A security project is also underway to replace the prisoner box in courtroom 250 to meet current safety, security, and accessibility requirements.
2015-16 also saw an expansion of the court and client representative job specification in the region. The position allows for maximum flexibility in the courtroom in addition to the counter service provided in our court locations. This job position is a great fit in the smaller court sites where staff move in-and-out of court on a regular basis.
Finally, the region is now able to make multi-point video conference calls through the use of an internal video bridge, similar to a conference call system. This is welcomed addition in the Northwest Region, as we now have the ability to connect to several court locations on the Justice Video Network instantly and simultaneously. Dryden piloted the internal bridge system for several months before further implementation in the region.
Director: Beverly Leonard
The Toronto Region serves the City of Toronto. With a population of over 2.6 million, the region has the highest population density in 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 for Ontario, 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, Ontario’s first guns and gangs courtrooms as well as a number of specialty courts.
Improvements to existing courthouses continued throughout 2013-14. In September 2015, the Ontario Court of Justice at 1000 Finch Avenue retrofitted courtroom 308 into a child friendly and vulnerable witness courtroom, which includes the necessary equipment to allow children and vulnerable witnesses to testify via CCTV. This further supports the administration of justice and minimizes the delay of trials with child and vulnerable witnesses.
In October 2015, a monitor was installed at the criminal intake counter in room 241 at 361 University Avenue allowing justice participants to electronically scroll through the daily court docket. This monitor displays the exact same information as “ontariocourtdates.ca” and eliminates the need for counter staff to provide hard copy dockets to clients.
In January 2016, six security cameras with recording capabilities were installed at several facility entrances to enhance security needs at Old City Hall.
The multi-year HVAC project at Old City Hall, which was led by the City of Toronto and focused on the replacement and upgrading of the heating, air conditioning and ventilation, was completed in March 2016. Over 100 window air conditioning units were removed from windows and replaced with glass in March 2016. This improved the overall aesthetics of the building and enhanced the security of the courthouse.
In March 2016, enhancements were made to the justice of the peace intake facilities at College Park to address security-related concerns raised by judicial officials.
Also in March 2016, the courthouse at 311 Jarvis Street was equipped with a new accessibility lift, resulting in further compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requirements, and ultimately eliminated identified deficiencies with accessibility at this location.
In September 2015, the College Park Courthouse implemented video bail for prisoners at the Vanier Detention Centre and in April 2016, it was expanded to prisoners at the Toronto South Detention Centre. Prisoners are given the option of attending bail hearings via video or in person, which will reduce delays and minimize costs associated with prisoner transportation.
In March 2016, the Superior Court of Justice at 361 University Avenue completed a facility project that created eight new judicial chambers. Within the same project scope, courtroom 3-2 was modernized with technology improvements, a new dais and proper counsel tables to allow for a fully functional, judge only criminal courtroom.
In November 2015, Superior Court of Justice civil court registrars began updating civil motions, excluding those heard by masters, in the courtroom, which has reduced the backlog in this area and allowed staff resources to be allocated to other areas.
In December 2015, the electronic scheduling tool was implemented to schedule Superior Court of Justice civil and family staff to their respective assignments at 393, 361 and 330 University Avenue as well as Osgoode Hall. This tool has created a more modern and efficient process for in-court staff scheduling.
In the May 2014 budget, the government announced a new, modern, and accessible courthouse for Toronto. The new courthouse will bring together many of Toronto’s courts operating across the city. While precise timelines on the completion of the new courthouse are still being determined, other new courthouses have taken up to seven years to build.
Director: Samantha Poisson
The West Region has an estimated population of 2, 259, 725. Geographically, the region spans approximately 33, 000 square kilometres and contains major border crossings between Canada and the United States in Sarnia and Windsor.
From 2001 to 2011, the Regional Municipality of Waterloo and Wellington County have experienced some of the highest growth rates in the West Region.
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, five satellite courts are located in the region.
The Ontario Court of Justice schedules a court sitting in the First Nation Community of Walpole Island. The sitting deals with criminal court matters focusing on resolution, diversion and direct accountability, and has been expanded in 2014 to hear child protection matters.
Staff in the region worked collaboratively with our Facilities Management Branch staff and local justice participants to successfully support the completion of facility projects including: creation of a dedicated bail courtroom in Walkerton, a secure interview room for legal aid and counsel in Goderich, and by ensuring continuity of operations during industry-required elevator upgrades at a number of locations across the region.
The region has a strong focus on modernizing its services and implemented a number of initiatives, including bandwidth upgrades at several sites, expanded digital recording device docket extraction, the Search Warrants Tracking System and software tools to assist with exhibit management, and expansion of Small Claims Court online. On January 5, 2015, a dispute resolution officer (DRO) pilot was commenced in the London family court. DROs are lawyers whose primary role is to hear all first case conferences for motions under Rule 15 of the Family Law Rules. It is anticipated that this pilot will provide a more efficient processing of matters through the family court system in London. Additional DRO dates have been added to the weekly schedule to accommodate the cases.
Kitchener and Windsor worked with Civil/Family Policy and Program Branch on a pilot project to develop educational materials on the distinction between providing Legal Advice vs. Legal Information: A Guide for CSD Staff – Family and Small Claims Court.
Windsor and London are two early sites in the province to implement the new OCJ Judicial Criminal Pre-Trial Best Practices developed by the Ontario Court of Justice Criminal Justice Modernization Committee, co-chaired by Chief Justice Maisonneuve and Deputy Attorney General Patrick Monahan.
As part of the division’s modernization initiatives, a significant investment in courtroom technology was made at the Superior Court of Justice in Windsor that allows for electronic evidence presentation and remote video appearances with, but not limited to, the South West Detention Centre.
Investments were made in a number of other court locations to enhance or add to their existing digital courtroom technology and included evidence display screens or courtroom audio improvements. Technology improvements also included the successful repurposing of refreshed hardware components to enhance remote and/or vulnerable witness testimony and evidence presentation.
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 West Region has one of the highest eligibility rates for potential retirements within Court Services Division. With the pending turnover of our highly skilled, diverse, and knowledgeable workforce, the management team is focused on succession planning and developed a recruitment strategy to attract and retain new and highly qualified employees while engaging our existing staff and investing in their ongoing learning and development. In support of our commitment to develop staff skills, onboarding and orientation sessions are held for new staff, while all staff participate in training related to professionalism and respect in the workplace, accessibility, customer service, and change management training. Opportunities and events for staff to engage with senior leaders were provided through forums such as the Deputy Regional Roundtable events, TOPs, and Courtside Chats.
In support of staff career progression, managers were involved in formalized coaching and mentoring initiatives, including the Mentorship for Career and Inclusion Program. Darcy Lampkin from the West Region participated in two Deputy Regional Roundtable events with the deputy attorney general across the province, delivering a staff presentation on “Resumes that Rock” in addition to holding nine additional sessions in six locations across the province.
- Data Source: FTE Tracker Tool - Human Resources Strategic Business Unit
- FTE (Full Time Equivalent) numbers are a “point in time” count of active employees as of the last business day in March each year.
- FTE numbers convert all part-time employees to an equivalent full-time number. For example, a regular part-time employee working 21.75 hours per week is counted as 0.6 FTE, while a full-time emple is counted as one FTE.
- Human resources do not include judiciary or judicial support staff.
- There are a total of 2, 774 FTEs in Court Services Division.
|"Head-Office||Central East||Central West||East||Northeast||Northwest||Toronto||West||Total|
|Government of Canada||5,250,879||5,250,879|
This year's report has been updated to reflect actual revenue by cost centres which also includes the new category of head office (POA reimbursements and Defaulted Fines Control Centre).
* The negative head-office balance is due to Estates Tax transferred to the Ministry of Finance.
** $4.6 million Fine Remittance from the East region to the Federal Government on account of a prior year.
*** Reimbursement of Provincial Offences expenditures on behalf of municipalities.
**** The negative amounts are due to past years' adjustments charging Recovery of Prior Year's Expenditures.
|ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE|
|Salaries and Wages||$157,785,973|
|Transportation and Communication||$9,324,319|
|Supplies and Equipment||$5,474,367|
|Salaries and Wages||$137,926,360|
|Transportation and Communication||$2,813,811|
|Supplies and Equipment||$605,092|
|BAD DEBT EXPENSE||$11,554,999|
|TOTAL OPERATING EXPENDITURES||$435,107,062|
|TOTAL OPERATING ALLOCATION||$439,679,400|