Access Plan - Ontario Mandatory Mediation Program

I. Purpose

  • This access Plan will be adopted by each Local Mediation Committee to ensure that litigants with limited financial resources are not denied access to mediation services under the Mandatory Mediation Program because of an inability to pay a mediator’s fees

II. Definition of "pro bono"

  • A pro bono mediation for the purposes of the MMP is defined as one in which the mediator’s fee is waived or reduced because a litigant is unable to pay for the mediator’s fee and the litigant has:
  1. obtained a legal aid certificate, or
  2. not obtained a legal aid certificate but otherwise meets the MMP financial eligibility test.
  • If the litigant has obtained a legal aid certificate, the fee for pro bono mediations will be in accordance with the applicable legal aid tariff.

III. Responsibilities

The Mediator

  • Mediators have a professional responsibility to provide competent services to persons seeking their assistance, including those unable to pay for such services. As a means of meeting the needs of the financially disadvantaged, a mediator should provide mediation services at a pro bono or a reduced rate of compensation whenever appropriate.
  • As a condition precedent to acceptance and placement on the roster, mediators under the MMP will undertake to conduct up to twelve hours of pro bono mediations pr year (12-month period starting from the time of admission to the roster).
  • If a litigant requests a pro bono mediation directly from a mediator, the mediator will inform the litigant of this Access Plan. The mediator will advise the litigant to obtain a legal aid certificate and/or refer the litigant to the Local Mediation Coordinator to conduct a financial eligibility test.
  • It is the mediator’s obligation to inform the Local Mediation Coordinator of any pro bono mediations he or she has conducted.
  • If a mediation is assigned to a mediator who has already conducted twelve hours of pro bono mediations in a 12-month period, the mediator may refer the case back to the Local Mediation Coordinator for assignment to another mediator.
  • The mediator will not disclose that mediation services are being conducted on a pro bono basis to anyone other than the Local Mediation Coordinator.

The Litigants

  • A litigant who is unable to pay for the mediator’s fee may seek pr bono mediation services by:
  1. obtaining a legal aid certificate prior to the commencement of the mediation session, or
  2. meeting the MPP financial eligibility test.
  • A litigant with a legal aid certificate will provide a copy upon request to the mediator or the Local Mediation Coordinator.
  • A litigant seeking pro bono mediation services and who does not have a legal aid certificate will apply to the Local Mediation Coordinator to determine financial eligibility.
  • In accordance with the financial eligibility test, a litigant will be required to provide financial information to the Local Mediation Coordinator and to complete a Financial Eligibility Form. A litigant who is unwilling to undergo the financial eligibility test will not qualify for pro bono mediation services.

The Local Mediation Coordinator

  • If a litigant seeking pro bono mediation services has not been able to obtain a legal aid certificate, the Local Mediation Coordinator will conduct a financial eligibility test and make a determination as to whether the litigant qualifies for pro bono mediation.
  • Where a litigant qualifies for a pro bono mediation under the Access Plan, the Local Mediation Coordinator will direct the mediator to conduct a mediation without charging a fee for the litigant who has qualified under this Access Plan.
  • The Local Mediation Coordinator will not knowingly assign a pro bono mediation to a mediator who has informed the Coordinator that he or she has conducted twelve hours of pro bono mediations in a 12-month period.
  • The Local Mediation Coordinator will not disclose that mediation services are being conducted on a pro bono basis to anyone other than the assigned mediator. Details of the litigant’s financial circumstances will be kept private and confidential.

DETERMINING FINANCIAL ELIGIBILITY

In accordance with the MMP Access Plan, pro bono mediation services will be provided to a litigant who is unable to pay for the mediator’s fee if the litigant has either:

  1. obtained a legal aid certificate, or
  2. not obtained a legal aid certificate but otherwise meets the MPP financial eligibility test.

A litigant who has not obtained a legal aid certificate and who wishes to apply for pro bono mediation services will apply to the Local Mediation Coordinator to determine financial eligibility. The Local Mediation Coordinator will conduct a financial assessment in a short interview and the litigant will be required to complete the Financial Eligibility Form.

The financial eligibility test for mediation services is based on an income, liquidity and net worth test. Mediation services will not be provided on a pro bono basis if the litigant has income, liquid assets or a net worth above the income, liquidity and net worth measures as stipulated below.

A litigant seeking pro bono mediation services will be required to disclose financial information for all members of the family unit. The family unit includes the litigant, a spouse and any dependent children of the litigant, but does not include any other family members.

DEFINITIONS

A " dependent child" is a child who is unmarried, under age 18 or enrolled in a full-time program of education, and if age 16 or older has not withdrawn from parental control. A dependent child includes an adopted child.

" Gross income" is defined to include all payments of any kind received by or on behalf of the litigant, the spouse and any dependent children. This includes but is not limited to income from:

  • employment, including salaries, wages, commissions and bonuses;
  • social assistance, Canada pension, Old Age pension, other pensions and disability benefits;
  • employment insurance benefits;
  • workers compensation;
  • rental income;
  • support received;
  • investment income or income from annuities and income funds;
  • income from a business.

" Liquid assets" are defined as all assets owned by the litigant, the spouse or dependent children that can be readily converted to cash. This includes, but is not limited to: cash, Canada Savings Bonds, bonds, stocks, debentures, RRSPs (not locked in), Guaranteed Investment Certificates, mutual funds and any interest in assets held in trust. Liquid assets do not include vehicles, household furnishings, tools or equipment necessary for employment.

" Net worth" is defined as the difference between a) the value of all of a litigant’s assets and property holdings and b) the value of all his or her financial liabilities and debts.

" Spouse" is defined in accordance with the Family Law Act as:

  • a person who is legally married to the litigant who is either living with the litigant or apart from the litigant for reasons of employment, schooling, incarceration, institutionalization,
  • a person of the opposite sex who is living with the litigant and although not legally married to the litigant,
  • has cohabited continuously with the litigant for a period of not less than three three years; or
  • has cohabited with the litigant in a relationship of some permanence and is together with the litigant, the natural or adoptive parent of a child;
  • a person of the opposite sex who is living with the litigant and although not legally married to the litigant, self declares an equivalent to married status.

PART 1: INCOME TEST

If the primary source of family income is income from one of the sources listed below, pro bono mediation services will be provided without applying the eligibility test:

  • Welfare
  • Family Benefits
  • Old Age Pension with guaranteed income supplement
  • War Veterans Allowance
  • Canada Pension Plan (only if primary source of income)
  • Workers’ Compensation Benefits which are temporary and threatened.

If the primary source of family income is not from one of the above sources, a litigant seeking pro bono mediation services will record his or her total gross income from all sources (annual or monthly) on the Financial Eligibility Form by selecting the applicable income range. Those litigants with an income above the gross income cutoffs will not qualify for pro bono mediation services.

Gross Income Cutoffs:

The following chart outlines the gross income cutoffs according to family size:

Family Size Monthly Gross Income Annual Gross Income
1 $1,500.00 $18,000.00
2 $2,250.00 $27,000.00
3 $2,583.00 $31,000.00
4 $3,083.00 $37,000.00
5+ $3,583.00 $43,000.00

PART II: LIQUIDITY TEST

Liquid Assets

Where the total value of the litigant’s liquid assets exceed the liquidity measure of $1,500, the litigant does not qualify for pro bono mediation services.

PART III. NET WORTH TEST

Net Worth

Where the litigant’s net worth exceeds $6,000, the litigant does not qualify for pro bono mediation services.

PART IV: MISCELLANEOUS

Litigant Non-Cooperation

A litigant who is unwilling to undergo the financial assessment or refuses to provide financial information, including making the declaration on the Financial Eligibility Form, will not qualify for pro bono mediation services.

Verification of Financial Information

A litigant will provide financial information verbally to the Local Mediation Coordinator during the financial assessment interview. The litigant will be required to complete the Financial Eligibility Form and make the declaration. There is no requirement for the litigant to provide any other verification of financial information.

Confidentiality and Freedom of Information

In accordance with the MMP Access Plan, the Local Mediation Coordinator will not disclose that mediation services are being conducted on a pro bono basis to anyone other than the assigned mediator. Details of the litigant’s financial circumstances will be kept private and confidential.

A litigant will be entitled to a copy of the financial Eligibility Form if requested.

To be completed by litigants seeking pro bono mediation services under the MMP Access Plan.

Date: _____________ Location (county): ______________________________

yy mm dd

Name: __________________________________

First Last

 
  1. How many people are in your family unit, including you, your spouse and any dependent children?

1 2 3 4 5+

  1. What is the total gross income of your family unit annually (or monthly)?

o No income o Under $18,000 ($1,500) o $18,000-26,999 ($1,500-2,249)

o $27,000-30,999 ($2,250-2,582) o $31,000-36,999 ($2,582-3,082)

o $37,000-43,000 ($3,083-3,583) o Over $43,000 ($3,583)

  1. Does the total amount of your liquid assets exceed $1,500 including all bank accounts, bonds, stocks, RRSPs, GICs, mutual funds and similar assets? (Do not include vehicles, real property and household effects)

o yes o no

  1. Does your net worth exceed $6,000?

o yes o no


Declaration:

I, _____________________, of the ______________ of _____________, declare that the above information is true and correct and I make this statement conscientiously believing it to be true and knowing that it is of the same force and effect as if made under oath.

Declare before me at the __________ of __________ in the province of Ontario this

_____ day of ______________ 19 ___.

________________________ ____________________________

Local Mediation Coordinator Signature   Litigant Signature Counsel Signature

(if applicable)