Ministry of the Attorney General
ISSN # 2369-2235
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The Ministry of the Attorney General administers the justice system to protect the public and ensure legality in government. To accomplish this, the ministry works to foster an inclusive environment that values service excellence, access to justice, accountability, innovation, and responsiveness to the diverse needs of Ontarians.
The ministry’s five-year strategic plan sets out the goals and priorities that guide the ministry’s actions in 2016/2017 as it works to deliver on its mandate. The strategic plan helps ensure that all staff are working toward common long-term goals, no matter what division they work in, where they are located, or what jobs they do.
In 2016-17, the ministry will continue to implement the priorities set out in the strategic plan:
In 2016-17, the ministry will move ahead with a number of initiatives that reflect its strategic plan priorities and will help the ministry deliver on its mandated commitments.
To help the ministry grow and evolve with the times and build the strong and efficient justice system we envision for all Ontarians, we are exploring ways to make our services more affordable, convenient and modern.
One key way the ministry is modernizing is by adapting available technologies to help improve processes and services.
In spring/summer 2016, the ministry will move forward with four key initiatives:
Collaboration is fundamental to achieving the ministry’s vision of a better justice system. Our progress to date is a testament to how the most innovative, useful and practical ideas arise when people talk about shared challenges, and then identify opportunities and create solutions together.
Justice Roundtables – The 2015 roundtable meetings brought together key leaders and experts from across the justice sector to focus on improving access to justice in the family and criminal law systems. Building on their success the Attorney General’s Justice Roundtable is set to resume in the spring. It is anticipated that the focus of these discussions will be on improving access to justice for persons with mental health issues in the criminal justice system. They will focus on leveraging the use of technology to modernize and simplify court processes in the family justice system, including a discussion on family law rules and forms.
Ontario Court of Justice Criminal Justice Modernization Committee – co-chaired by Chief Justice Lise Maisonneuve and Deputy Attorney General Patrick Monahan, the committee continues to move forward on initiatives that will:
Work on these initiatives is already underway and the committee anticipates they will be rolled out in early 2016.
In 2016, Ontario will raise the threshold at which a person may qualify for legal aid by six per cent. This increase will be the third threshold increase in three years, and a $48.81 million investment in the legal aid system for the 2016-17 fiscal year. Taken together, these three threshold increases are expected to allow an additional 385,310 low-income Ontarians to become eligible for legal aid.
The ministry continues to work to strengthen the family justice system and help make it easier to use, less confrontational and more affordable.
Family Law Consultation and Report – Ontario and the Law Society of Upper Canada are sponsoring a public consultation on whether family legal services could be delivered by people who are not lawyers (e.g., paralegals, law clerks and law students). This consultation is expected to draw to a close in April 2016. The Honourable Justice Annemarie E. Bonkalo, who is leading the consultation and subsequent review, is expected to deliver her final report to the Attorney General and Law Society by September 15, 2016.
Unified Family Court – The ministry remains committed to working with the federal government to increase the number of Unified Family Courts in Ontario. Unified Family Courts allow all family law issues, whether under provincial or federal legislation, to be dealt with in one court.
The ministry continues to support the government’s Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan. The plan outlines concrete steps the government will take to help prevent sexual harassment and sexual violence, while also making the justice system more responsive to the needs of survivors.
In spring 2016, the ministry will launch a pilot program that will provide free, confidential legal advice to victims of sexual assault. In addition to comprehensive services already available province wide through the Victim/Witness Assistance Program, victims in the pilot locations (Toronto, Ottawa and Thunder Bay) will have access to free legal advice any time after the incident has occurred.
Walking Together: Strategy to End Violence against Indigenous Women: In early 2016, the Ontario government launched a strategy that outlines actions to prevent violence against Indigenous women and reduce its impact on youth, families and communities. In 2016-17, the ministry will work to support this strategy by training crown attorneys, enhancing existing Indigenous victim services and developing new Indigenous-specific programs for domestic violence offenders.
National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG): The second National Roundtable on MMIWG took place in March 2016 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Ontario will coordinate the development of the work related to the second National Roundtable, including coordination of the national public awareness campaign.
Hand-in-hand with efforts to make the justice system more accessible, the ministry must also work to address the growing demand for services in a challenging fiscal climate, such as adjusting internal processes to be more efficient and effective.
In 2016-17, the ministry will continue to explore new models for delivering certain court services. For example:
Civil enforcement services – Following the close of public consultations in winter 2016, as part of the ongoing review, the ministry will consider all submissions received in determining the feasibility of delivering civil enforcement services using a delegated administrative authority or local service providers instead of public enforcement officers. The objective is to have a faster, more efficient process of enforcing court orders that provides access to more enforcement officers and reduces costs.
The ministry is also working with Infrastructure Ontario on several key projects to ensure Ontario’s justice infrastructure is modern and efficient. For example:
Adjudicative Cluster Co-location Project – Beginning in September 2016, the ministry’s Toronto-based tribunal and cluster offices will be moving to a single location at 25 Grosvenor Street in Toronto. Social Justice Tribunals Ontario, with the exception of the Landlord and Tenant Board (Toronto South), will be the first to move in September 2016. The Safety, Licensing Appeals and Standards Tribunals Ontario will move in December 2017.
Toronto Courthouse – The new Toronto courthouse project continues to move forward. Once the planning, design and compliance aspects are completed, the Ministry of the Attorney General and Infrastructure Ontario will issue a request for qualifications for a team to design, build, finance and maintain the project. The request for qualifications is expected to be issued in spring 2016.
Establishing a Serious Fraud Office - In an effort to combat fraud and help reduce insurance rates for consumers, the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services continue to work to create a Serious Fraud Office. On the recommendation of a special task force headed by the Honourable Stephen Goudge, the Serious Fraud Office will provide effective investigation and prosecution of fraud in Ontario, with a special focus on auto insurance fraud.
Motherisk Hair Analysis Review and the Motherisk Commission - Work is underway at the Motherisk Commission. Over the next two years, Commissioner Judith C. Beaman will lead a review and establish a resource centre that will provide legal, counselling and other support to individuals involved in child protection matters that may have been impacted by a flawed Motherisk test.
Construction Lien Act Review - Bruce Reynolds, the external legal counsel leading the Construction Lien Act Review, is expected to deliver his final report in April 2016. This report will identify ways to address payment issues in the construction sector.
In 2016-17 the ministry will continue to roll out the MAG Talent Strategy. It will forecast work requirements and competencies needed to support employees in linking their career goals to workplace needs, and help managers to identify positions that will require internal skills development.
Each division is analyzing its unique career paths, and how its employees’ skill sets can be developed so they are ready for positions at the next level. Initiatives include talent discussions, career talks, learning plans, mentoring, coaching, leadership training and developmental assignments.
In 2016-17, the ministry continues to move forward on its Open Government commitments, as outlined in its 2015 action plan, Open Justice.
By fall 2016, the ministry aims to create a protocol and mechanism for identifying and posting high-demand data for public use, as well as other measures for promoting a culture of openness and transparency across the ministry and broader justice sector.
This is a text version of an organizational chart for the Ministry of the Attorney General as of February 22, 2016. The chart shows the following hierarchical structure with the top level assigned to the Attorney General.
† Denotes an arms-length organization.
* Denotes positions which provide service to Justice Cluster.
Justice Technology Services provides support to MAG and MCSCS.
|Description||Accrual 2015/16 estimates||2014/15 interim actual|
|Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario||28,680,600||26,294,300||30,403,000||25,761,400|
|Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario||17,294,000||6,032,500||17,127,200||837,500|
|Ontario Human Rights Commission||5,652,200||5,5,256,200|
|Human Rights Legal Support Centre||5,336,200||5,936,200|
|Office of the Independent Police Review Director||7,070,000||6,625,000|
|Legal Aid Ontario||393,359,100||50,800,000||389,219,100||50,800,000|
|Social Justice Tribunals||76,763,400||13,000,200||79,180,000||12,000,800|
|Safety, Licensing Appeals and Standards Tribunals Ontario||20,349,900||14,838,000||6,513,200||80,000|
*Interim Actuals reflect the numbers presented in the Ontario Budget
|Vote||Estimates 2016-17||Change from 2015-16 estimates||Estimates 2015-16*||Interim actuals 2015-16*||Actuals 2014-15*|
|OPERATING AND CAPITAL EXPENSE|
|Policy, Justice Programs and Agencies||589,833,600||24,950,300||4.4||564,883,300||575,190,200||545,331,505|
|Victims and Vulnerable Persons||174,650,600||3,031,400||1.8||171,619,200||170,398,800||168,994,745|
|Political Contribution Tax Credit||5,652,400||(1,277,200)||(18.4)||6,929,600||2,669,600||13,456,500|
|Total Including Special Warrants||1,821,322,100||92,249,400||5.3||1,729,072,700||1,743,536,300||1,716,118,360|
|Less: Special Warrants||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Total Operating and Capital Expense to be Voted||1,821,322,100||92,249,400||5.3||1,729,072,700||1,743,536,300||1,716,118,360|
|Ministry Total Operating and Capital Expense||1,827,514,214||92,032,500||5.3||1,735,481,714||1,774,640,668||1,742,198,916|
|Consolidation & Other Adjustments||40,250,000||(3,188,000)||(7.3)||43,438,000||41,884,000||40,093,142|
|Total Including Consolidation & Other Adjustments||1,867,764,214||88,844,500||5.0||1,778,919,714||1,816,524,668||1,782,292,058|
|OPERATING AND CAPITAL ASSETS|
|Policy, Justice Programs and Agencies||4,274,900||801,500||23.1||3,473,400||3,450,500||1,566,551|
|Victims and Vulnerable Persons||1,000||(87,200)||(98.9)||88,200||88,200||87,294|
|Total Including Special Warrants||11,750,100||(25,834,800)||(68.7)||37,584,900||14,522,100||13,398,035|
|Less: Special Warrants||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Total Operating and Capital Assets To be Voted||11,750,100||(25,834,800)||(68.7)||37,584,900||14,522,100||13,398,035|
|Ministry Total Operating and Capital Assets||11,750,100||(25,834,800)||(68.7)||37,584,900||14,522,100||13,398,035|
*Estimates for the previous fiscal year are re-stated to reflect any changes in ministry organization and/or program structure. Interim actuals for Operating and Capital Expense reflect the numbers preseted in the 2015 Ontario Budget
In 2015-16, the Ministry of the Attorney General made significant progress towards its goal of building an innovative, sustainable and responsive justice system that inspires public confidence and upholds the rule of law.
Following through on its commitment to make justice services simpler, more affordable and convenient, the ministry pursued an ambitious modernization agenda in 2015-16. Highlights for the year include:
Greater protection of public expression and participation – On November 3, 2015, the Protection of Public Participation Act came into force. The legislation aims to reduce the risk of citizens being threatened with legal action when speaking out on matters of public interest. It contains a fast-track review process that will allow the courts to quickly identify and deal with these types of strategic lawsuits.
Small claims court e-filing service expanded – following the success of its eight month pilot in several regions across the province, in April 2015 the ministry rolled out its award-winning small claims court e-filing service for fixed (liquidated) claims province wide.
Access to legal aid increased - As of April 1, 2015, Ontario raised the income level at which people qualify for legal aid by six per cent — the second of three planned annual increases of six per cent. Already, these first two increases have given an estimated 250,000 more low-income Ontarians access to legal aid.
Justice Roundtables begin – Established in spring 2015, the Attorney General’s Justice Roundtable serves as a forum to promote communications and collaboration among ministry and justice system stakeholders on issues related to access to justice. The roundtable met twice in 2015 to discuss two key family and criminal access to justice issues: how to streamline the family court process and how to better support the mentally ill in our criminal justice system. This input will be invaluable as the ministry decides what solutions to implement and how to move forward.
Family law consultation begins – In February 2016, the ministry, in partnership with the Law Society of Upper Canada, proposed stakeholder and public consultations to determine whether the delivery of family legal services should be expanded to include people who are not lawyers, such as paralegals, law clerks and law students. The Honourable Justice Annemarie E. Bonkalo, of the Ontario Court of Justice, was appointed to lead the consultation and subsequent review.
Improved access to justice in French - In May 2015, the ministry and Ontario’s Chief Justices launched a pilot project which will last at least one year. This project will ensure court users receive timely and seamless services in French from the moment they enter the Ottawa courthouse, and it will reduce any challenges for French-speaking litigants, lawyers and others using the Ontario court system in Ottawa. The pilot will also help identify best practices for improving access to justice in French for Ontarians.
New division to lead modernization efforts – In February 2016, the Modernization Division was created to lead the strategic development, operation and integration of ministry modernization initiatives, focusing on the delivery of services to the public. In order to facilitate the work of this new division, three existing ministry program areas that currently work very closely will be transferred to the new division, including the Innovation Office, Ontario Court of Justice Criminal Justice Modernization unit, and the Analytics Branch.
In 2015-16, the ministry worked with justice sector partners to develop programs and initiatives to make Ontario's justice system more responsive to survivors, and to encourage more survivors to report sexual assaults.
Independent legal advice pilot - The ministry is developing a pilot program to give survivors of sexual assault access to free legal advice. The pilot will launch in spring 2016 and will run for two years. In March 2016 the ministry began recruiting lawyers to be a part of a roster of independent legal advisors.
New funding for sexual assault centres – In September, Ontario increased the base funding for all 42 sexual assault centres across Ontario by $1.75 million per year so they can enhance their services for survivors of sexual violence.
Enhanced training for prosecutors – To help ensure that sexual assault prosecutions are handled as fairly, effectively and consistently as possible, the ministry created a Sexual Violence Advisory Group of experts in the fall of 2015. The experts were invited to share best practices and develop training and education tools for the prosecution of sexual violence offences.
Eliminating limitation period for civil and compensation claims – In 2015-16, the ministry also led two legislative amendments that were passed into law on March 8, 2016:
In April 2015, the ministry created an Aboriginal Justice Division, led by Assistant Deputy Attorney General Kimberly Murray. This new division was recommended by former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci in his report, First Nations Representation on Ontario Juries.
In 2015-16, the ministry continued efforts to make the justice system as effective and efficient as possible, while continuing to deliver high quality services to the public.
Serious Fraud Task Force and Report - In 2015, the Attorney General received the final report from the Serious Fraud Task Force, led by the Honourable Stephen Goudge, which provided recommendations for a long-term model for the effective investigation and prosecution of fraud in the form of a Serious Fraud Office. The ministry is reviewing the report to determine next steps in the implementation of a Serious Fraud Office. It is anticipated that next steps will be announced in 2016.
Civil Enforcement Consultation - Ontario began reviewing the feasibility of delivering civil enforcement services using a delegated administrative authority or local service providers instead of public enforcement officers. The objective is to have a faster, more efficient process of enforcing court orders that provides access to more enforcement officers and reduces costs.
Adjudicative Tribunal Cluster Transformation - In an effort to facilitate better, more streamlined client services and promote collaboration among its 18 tribunals, the ministry has been working towards moving its Toronto-based tribunal and cluster offices to one government-owned location at 25 Grosvenor Street in Toronto. The co-location would make it easier for MAG’s tribunals and clusters to work together and share resources and expertise.
Strengthening and Improving the Government Act - In December 2015, the Strengthening and Improving Government Act was passed. The legislation included a number of small, but important changes to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of government, including updates to the Family Law Act, and 14 other statutes. Taken together, these amendments will make things easier for families and businesses by modernizing government processes and creating systems that are simpler to navigate.
Building up our courthouse infrastructure – In 2015-16, the ministry is forecasting to spend $80.25 million in capital projects to strengthen the justice system. A number of major courthouse construction and renovation projects achieved key milestones in 2015-16, including the expansion of the A. Grenville and William Davis Courthouse in Brampton, which kicked off in January 2015. Planning work also continued on a new modern and accessible courthouse for downtown Toronto, which will bring together several courts operating across the city. Amalgamation of justice programs and services is expected to reduce operational and facilities costs, make court administration more efficient, and better respond to the needs of the community.
In support of the ministry’s strategic priority of growing the skilled and engaged workforce needed to deliver on its mandate, the ministry is working to develop employees’ leadership, management and professional skills. In 2015, the MAG Talent Strategy was established to help address employee career growth, support groups that are under-represented in leadership positions and meet advancement needs at all levels in the organization by enhancing the development of current incumbents and potential successors.
Open Government - To support the province’s Open Government initiative, in 2015 the ministry developed an action plan aimed at fostering more transparent and accessible processes and information, while providing greater opportunities for the public to engage the ministry on issues that matter to them.
Highlights of these successes include:
Motherisk Hair Analysis Review and the Motherisk Commission - In November 2014, the Attorney General appointed former Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Susan Lang to lead an independent review of the Motherisk hair analysis program. In December 2015 Justice Lang reported back to the ministry with findings that the immunoassay biochemical hair-testing method used by the Motherisk Drug Testing Laboratory between 2005 and 2015 was inadequate and unreliable for use in child protection and criminal proceedings, and that the laboratory did not meet internationally recognized forensic standards. On her recommendation, the Attorney General created a second review of the use of the laboratory’s hair-testing evidence in child protection matters. Justice Judith Beaman was appointed to lead this review in December 2015.
Construction Lien Act Review - In February 2015, the ministry launched an expert review of the Construction Lien Act that will include the examination of payment issues within the construction sector. Ontario selected Bruce Reynolds as counsel to lead the review, which was commissioned in response to stakeholder concerns related to prompt payment and effective dispute resolution in Ontario's construction industry, such as encouraging timely payment for services and materials, and making sure payment risk is distributed fairly.
|Ministry Expenditures ($) 2015-16|
|Staff Strength (as of February 29. 2016) *||7,873.17|
Interim Outlook 2015-16, The Ministry of the Attorney General (Excludes Consolidations) (Restated)
* Human Resources - MAG