Public consultation: Exploring a new approach to providing civil enforcement services

Comment period

The comment period for this consultation is now closed.

Background information

Read the consultation document.

During this consultation, the ministry sought public input on a new approach to providing civil enforcement services to court and tribunal users in Ontario. The information collected will help the ministry decide if it will move forward with changing the civil enforcement process, and how it would do so.

For more information, email us at CSD.CivilFamilyPP@ontario.ca. Please use the subject line: Civil Enforcement Service Delivery Review.

Civil enforcement in Ontario

A civil case is a type of lawsuit that usually deals with contracts, or with torts (harmful acts that cause damage or injury to another person or group of people). Civil cases may be heard in court or at a tribunal, such as the Landlord and Tenant Board.

If you are the successful party in a civil lawsuit (a court or tribunal has decided in your favour), you may be entitled to a payment, an award, the return of property, or have someone evicted from your property. In many cases, you now have to take steps to have this decision enforced.

Enforcement of court or tribunal orders is carried out by enforcement officers who have been given the authority to exercise the powers and carry out the duties of sheriffs. Enforcement services are available at courthouses.

Public enforcement officers:

  • identify property that can be seized and sold
  • enforce written orders of seizure and sale of property
  • evict tenants from residential or commercial properties
  • serve enforcement documents

A different way to provide civil enforcement services

Ontario is committed to improving access to justice by providing court clients with different service delivery options.

Currently, civil enforcement orders can be carried out only by public enforcement officers who are employed by the Government of Ontario.

The ministry is seeking public input on a proposal to deliver 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.

A delegated administrative authority is a private, not-for-profit corporation that has been given the authority to carry out services on behalf of the government. There are nine of these corporations currently operating in Ontario and delivering services to the public. They include:

Under a delegated administrative authority model, laws are created to establish its powers and duties, including how it will be accountable to the government and how it will perform its services.

A delegated administrative authority would be funded by fees charged to the users of the services and would:

  • directly deliver enforcement services through its staff and/or licensed enforcement officers
  • take in and review applications by people who would like to be licensed enforcement officers
  • train, test and issue licences for the delivery of enforcement services by other persons or agencies
  • investigate and handle complaints with respect to the delivery of court order enforcement services
  • conduct inspections, investigations, discipline and other activities related to the delivery of enforcement services

A delegated administrative authority would operate out of a central location and could contract with local service providers on an as-needed basis.

In the local service provider model, the ministry would accept applications from local agencies and individuals who want to provide civil enforcement services within specific areas of the province for a limited period of time.

These local service providers would be self-funded through fees charged to the users of the services. The government would be responsible for setting the training and qualification standards for local service providers and for investigating and responding to complaints with respect to the service providers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How would a different civil enforcement service model affect court users?

At the end of a civil dispute, successful parties may need the help of an enforcement service to collect awards they are entitled to under the judgment (decision). These enforcement services are available at every courthouse across the province. However, these enforcement offices are often dealing with a high volume of demand, which can delay service delivery.

The ministry is proposing an approach to civil enforcement service that would create access to more enforcement officers, in more locations, with the objective of speeding up the enforcement of court orders across the province.

Q. Will users have to pay more for a different delivery system?

The ministry is currently consulting on two possible approaches. Under both possible options, people using the services would pay a fee for service. It’s not possible at this point to say whether services would cost more or less than they do today.

The government would oversee and regulate any new delivery system to ensure that agencies are accountable, including controls over service fees.

Q. Will current civil enforcement office staff lose their jobs if the ministry chooses a different service delivery method?

At this time, the ministry is only conducting consultations on two possible options. No decisions have been made so it would be premature to speculate on any possible impact on staff.

Q. When will we learn more about the outcome of the consultation?

It is anticipated that the consultations will be completed in early 2016. The ministry will then review the results and determine next steps.