Ministry of the Attorney General
ISSN # 1718-6099
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The Ministry of the Attorney General is responsible for providing a fair and accessible justice system that reflects the needs of diverse communities across the province. The ministry employs approximately 8,000 staff who work in criminal, civil, family and small claims courts, and the ministry's agencies. They prosecute crime, deliver services to victims, support vulnerable people and provide legal services to government.
The ministry administers criminal, civil, family and small claims courts and has an oversight responsibility for the administration of municipally administered Provincial Offences Act courts.
Ministry court employees:
The ministry also works with the judiciary and justice partners on measures to improve access to justice in both official languages of the Courts of Ontario and to encourage alternatives to litigation in appropriate cases.
The ministry is committed to enhancing access to justice and measures the percentage of court clients with single filings who were served in 30 minutes or less. In 2013, the standard was reached over 91% of the time.
Ontario’s criminal courts receive over 230,000 new criminal proceedings a year. The ministry is committed to improving the effectiveness of our courts and has implemented initiatives to reduce delays and move criminal cases through the justice system faster and more effectively. The ministry’s Justice on Target strategy is one initiative that seeks to achieve a more effective and efficient criminal justice system by reducing criminal court delay.
The ministry supports the role of the Attorney General as Chief Law Officer of the Crown. It provides the government with expert legal services, advocacy and representation before tribunals and at all levels of court.
The ministry provides support services for victims of crime through initiatives such as the Victim/Witness Assistance Program, and through community-based victim services. An advisory agency, the Office for Victims of Crime, works to strengthen victims' services by consulting with victims and advising the Attorney General on ways to improve services to victims. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board awards compensation to victims of certain Criminal Code offences.
The ministry provides and supports a wide array of services for vulnerable people through community, agency and court-based initiatives, including decision-making by the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee for mentally incapable adults with no one else to act on their behalf.
The ministry also delivers or supports special services for Ontario's children, including:
The ministry is responsible for the Ontario Human Rights Code and for the arm's-length agencies that administer the Code. Ontario's human rights system is made up of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Legal Support Centre. The system reinforces Ontario's leadership in human rights and addresses systemic discrimination.
The ministry administers approximately 142 statutes or parts of statutes and maintains public accountability for the administration of:
In 2014-15, the ministry will implement a five-year strategic plan and will identify strategies to achieve its long-term goals. The strategic plan will help 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.
The strategic plan contains a vision statement, a mission statement and three key priorities to guide the ministry’s work over the next five years. These priorities focus on promoting modernization and innovation, a skilled and engaged workforce, and accountability that ensures value for money from the ministry’s front lines to its corporate offices.
The ministry is changing the way it does business to respond to the evolving needs of stakeholders and the public it serves. Over the coming year, the ministry will work to modernize and streamline its processes to become more efficient and deliver the best possible value to Ontarians. Such modernization will require improving technology to ensure the right infrastructure is in place to support desired reforms. A main focus of this priority will be enhancing electronic access to justice services and electronic interactions within the justice system.
To support this priority, the ministry will work on a number of fronts in 2014-15:
The ministry is committed to building a modern justice system that reflects the public’s expectation of a responsive, accessible and user-friendly public service. This is a central part of the ministry’s strategic vision.
Under the leadership of a dedicated Associate Deputy Minister, the ministry’s Innovation Office is leading a coordinated, incremental approach to justice system modernization. Enhancements will be made through a series of tested, targeted initiatives. Projects expected to move forward in 2014-15 include:
In addition, the ministry’s Court Services Division has supported the Ontario Court of Justice in introducing criminal court e-orders. E-orders speed up the production and distribution of the three most common criminal court orders to parties before the courts, as well as to justice sector participants, such as police, victim services and probation. Criminal court e-orders were piloted in six locations in 2013-14 and will be implemented across the province by July 2014. Electronic templates for common family court orders have also been developed and are being piloted in both the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice.
In June 2014, the ministry will implement a new model for court transcript production that will result in:
The ministry will also update the fee structure for transcripts that better reflect industry standards and current technology, including expedited and next day service, and transcripts in electronic format.
In 2014-15, the ministry will continue to focus on its Justice on Target (JOT) strategy, fulfilling its commitment to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the criminal justice system, while ensuring protection of the public and providing service excellence. The strategy is achieving this by supporting innovation and collaboration among criminal court leaders and justice system participants to streamline and modernize processes while better focusing existing justice system resources.
Recognizing the success of the strategy’s evidence-based approach, use of data continues to be a focus for achieving better outcomes. Transparency and accountability are among the hallmarks of the strategy, which uses a benchmark approach to measure progress and promote continuous improvement in the criminal justice system.
In 2014-15, the ministry will continue to report twice annually on the progress of Ontario’s criminal justice system both in case processing times and in meeting goals for improvement using provincial benchmarks as a measuring tool.
The strategy continues to establish specific goals to improve the percentage of cases meeting the benchmarks for days and appearances for both less complex and more complex cases. "Case complexity" is a term developed and used by JOT for this purpose. Information about the goals and the progress for all Ontario Court of Justice criminal court locations continues to be available to the public upon request.
In 2014-15, all Ontario Court of Justice criminal courthouses in the province (including satellite offices) will continue to monitor initiatives and implement new solutions to address local court delay and ensure sustained improvement.
Regional committees, comprised of key justice sector leaders, including the ministry’s regional directors of Crown and court operations, will continue to monitor progress and establish goals and priorities for sites within their regions. Together, the JOT team and dedicated regional coordinators will work with these leaders to achieve the regional priorities.
While this work is conducted at the regional and local level, JOT will continue to focus on identified priority areas in 2014-15, including case progression, trial readiness, increased use of technology and implementation of the recommendations of the Bail Experts Table, which were finalized in November 2013.
In addition, JOT will continue to support positive change in Ontario’s criminal courts by:
Through JOT, all justice participants – judges, justices of the peace, defence counsel, police, corrections staff, duty counsel, Legal Aid Ontario and other organizations, in addition to ministry leaders such as Crown attorneys and court services staff – will continue working in a way that respects their independent roles and encourages collaboration, innovation and continuous improvement in the criminal justice system.
In 2014-15, the ministry’s Ontario Victim Services program will focus on modernizing existing services to continue to provide high quality and timely supports and services to victims of crime.
The Victim/Witness Assistance Program (V/WAP), delivered by ministry staff, continues to provide support and information to victims and witnesses of crime. Services are provided on a priority basis to the most vulnerable victims and witnesses of violent crimes including domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and sexual assault, hate crimes and to families of homicide or traffic fatality victims. Services begin once police have laid a charge and continue throughout the criminal court process until the disposition of the case. The program is available in all 52 judicial districts across the province.
The performance of this program is measured in the time it takes to contact clients referred to the program. The established delivery standard requires that V/WAP make efforts to contact clients referred to the program within three business days. In 2013-14, the standard was met for over 96% of clients.
Improvements are helping to make this long-standing program even more successful by:
This work will continue in 2014-15.
The ministry recognizes the importance of addressing the unique needs of clients living in northern Ontario, particularly Aboriginal clients. The ministry has established new, integrated victim services in eight Aboriginal communities on the James Bay/Hudson Bay coast.
The Victim Quick Response Program provides immediate assistance to victims of violent crime who need help to access short-term counselling, crime scene cleanup, emergency expenses or funeral expenses for family members who are victims of homicide. Eligible victims would have no other financial means available.
The performance of this program is measured in the time it takes to approve requests for services. The established service standard requires that 90% of requests for emergency and funeral expenses are approved within three business days of receipt of the request, and that 90% of requests for short-term counselling are approved within five business days.
In 2013-14, 79% of counselling requests were approved within five business days and 90% of funeral and emergency requests were approved within three business days.
In 2014-15, the ministry will continue to fund time-limited programs aimed at helping victims of specific crimes or with exceptional needs. The ministry is currently evaluating the effectiveness of these programs.
For example, a community-based Family Court Support Worker Program will continue to help victims of domestic violence involved in the family court process navigate the court system.
Services for male survivors of sexual abuse will continue to be provided across Ontario through a network of agencies that deliver counselling and peer support. A 24-hour toll-free crisis and referral telephone service is also available.
The ministry provides and supports a wide array of services for vulnerable people through community, agency and court-based initiatives. This includes decision-making by the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee for mentally incapable people with no one else to act on their behalf. Processes and procedures are continuously being reviewed to ensure maximum efficiency.
The ministry delivers and supports special services for Ontario’s children. The Office of the Children’s Lawyer represents children in child protection proceedings, litigation and custody and access disputes.
The ministry also supports children through the Supervised Access Program, through which non-profit organizations provide safe settings for visits and exchanges between a child and non-custodial parents or other persons, where there are concerns about safety.
In 2013-14, settlement agreements were approved by the court to give former residents of the Huronia, Rideau and Southwestern regional centres who suffered harm while living at the facilities, access to compensation. These were provincially-run residential facilities for people with developmental disabilities.
The settlements apply to those who suffered harm while living at:
The claims process for money is expected to start in 2014. Those wishing to apply for compensation will be able to do so in writing.
In February 2013, the Honourable Frank Iacobucci released his report to the Attorney General entitled, First Nations Representation on Ontario Juries. The report proposed a number of recommendations to increase First Nations representation on juries and enhance the experience of Aboriginal Peoples with the Ontario justice system. On the same day that the report was released, the Attorney General committed to implement the first two recommendations: to establish an Implementation Committee to address the report’s recommendations and to form an Advisory Group to provide advice to the Attorney General on broader justice issues affecting Aboriginal Peoples.
Since February 2013, the ministry has conducted extensive consultations with Aboriginal partners and justice sector stakeholders on the composition of the committees and their mandates. In June 2013, Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, and Assistant Deputy Attorney General Irwin Glasberg, were appointed as co-chairs of the Implementation Committee. The committee is an 11 member group, consisting of a majority of First Nation representatives and members of the public service and the judiciary. The committee held its first meeting in September 2013 and is focused on developing advice for the Deputy Attorney General on the report’s recommendations. In March 2014, the committee provided implementation advice on the establishment of a dedicated Assistant Deputy Attorney General (ADAG) for Aboriginal Justice. In 2014, the ministry will create this new leadership position to lead the government's work on Aboriginal justice issues. The new ADAG will be recruited through an open, merit-based process.
In response to Mr. Iacobucci’s second recommendation, in December 2013, the ministry appointed Ogichidaa Warren White of Treaty #3 and former Deputy Attorney General Murray Segal to serve as the co-chairs of the Aboriginal Justice Advisory Group. The advisory group will serve as an important forum for the Attorney General to collaborate with Aboriginal leaders and communities, and others with knowledge and experience with Aboriginal justice issues. The group will consider ways to improve the manner in which the Ontario justice system impacts Aboriginal Peoples, and to provide appropriate advice to the Attorney General with a view towards implementing lasting, positive change. Since their appointment, the co-chairs have focused their efforts on developing membership recommendations for the consideration of the Attorney General, as well as determining the early subject matter for the group’s discussion. The advisory group’s full membership is expected to be announced in summer 2014.
The addition of an ADAG for Aboriginal Justice to the ministry is a critical step in improving the experience of Aboriginal Peoples within the justice system. The creation of the ADAG, and the associated divisional structure to support this position, is the ministry’s response to recommendation number five of the Honourable Frank Iacobucci’s report. This was the first recommendation from the report to be implemented in consultation with the Jury Review Implementation Committee, formed in September 2013. The position will help to strengthen relationships between Aboriginal communities and government and build Aboriginal Peoples’ trust in the justice system.
The ADAG will be supported by a dedicated divisional staff consisting of policy, legal, courts and victims services experts drawn from across the ministry. The new division will provide justice policy, legal and program advice to the Attorney General and lead the development of new programs and services to support Aboriginal Peoples in the justice system. The division will also be responsible for coordinating the ministry’s response to the remaining recommendations contained in the report, including providing Aboriginal cultural awareness training to ministry staff.Public Inquiry into Algo Centre Mall collapse in Elliot Lake
In 2014-15, work will continue on Commissioner Paul R. Bélanger’s independent public inquiry into the events surrounding the collapse of the Algo Centre Mall in June 2012, as well as the emergency response.
It is anticipated that Commissioner Bélanger will deliver a final report to the Attorney General in the fall of 2014. Once the government receives the final report, it will be tabled in the Legislature and made available to the public.
Since 2003, Ontario has built and significantly renovated or expanded 24 courthouses across the province. This includes five new consolidated courthouses, developed using the Alternative Financing and Procurement infrastructure delivery model, which are providing more modern, efficient, and accessible justice services and boosting regional economies by creating and supporting hundreds of jobs.
The Durham Region Courthouse, which opened in 2009, was the first of these new, state-of-the-art, consolidated facilities. In 2013, new courthouses in Quinte and Waterloo Region were completed. The Elgin County Courthouse in St. Thomas opened in March 2014, and incorporates many of the heritage features of the original courthouse, including its east, north and west elevations, dome and copper roof, and masonry and sculptural detailing.
The new Thunder Bay Courthouse, will open in April 2014, and will consolidate Superior Court of Justice and Ontario Court of Justice facilities currently operating in separate locations. A prominent feature of the new Thunder Bay Courthouse is Ontario’s first Aboriginal Conference Settlement Suite, designed to give a stronger voice in the justice process to First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.
As part of the 2014 Budget, Ontario is proposing to build a new courthouse for Ontario Court of Justice criminal matters in downtown Toronto. The funding is subject to approval of the Budget by the Legislature and by Treasury Board and Management Board of Cabinet. The new courthouse would bring together most of Toronto’s Ontario Court of Justice criminal courts, which currently operate out of several locations across Toronto. Bringing together several Toronto Ontario Court of Justice criminal courts under one roof would reduce operational and facilities costs and make the administration of our courts more efficient. The construction is part of Ontario’s 2014-15 Infrastructure Plan.
In 2014-15 the ministry will continue to upgrade existing court facilities:
In January 2014, the ministry met with members of the family law bar to discuss ways to modernize and improve services in Ontario’s family justice system, building on the recommendations in the recent report of the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters. In 2014-15, the ministry will continue to work on family justice reform proposals.
Through its Legal Services Division, the ministry supports the role of the Attorney General as Chief Law Officer of the Crown. The division provides the government with expert legal services, advocacy and representation before tribunals and at all levels of court. The percentage of government clients satisfied with services provided by the Legal Service Division was assessed through the 2013-14 survey. The satisfaction rate was 95%.
The Office of Legislative Counsel (OLC) is responsible for drafting all provincial bills in both English and French (including private members’ public bills) as well as drafting all regulations, motions and proclamations and translating them to French. OLC also provides legal advice to the Legislative Assembly and Government with respect to the legislative process, bills and regulations. OLC provides editing and publishing services to the Legislative Assembly and Government, oversees the official e-Laws website and supplies all legislative data, including consolidations of statutes and regulations.
In 2013-14, 100% of source laws were posted on the e-Laws website within two business days.
The ministry is committed to further developing a highly-skilled and engaged workforce. In 2014-15 the ministry will focus on improving staff flexibility and professional development opportunities while striving to become an employer of choice within the Ontario Public Service.
In 2014-15, the ministry will continue its Career Mentorship Program, which allows staff to develop networks of people to help them prepare for changes or advances in their careers. The program is an eight month voluntary commitment open to staff in all compensation groups and levels. Through the program, staff learn new skills, acquire and share knowledge, inspire others and broaden career perspectives.
The ministry will also continue its Diversity Mentorship program, a formal two-way mentorship program where senior management mentors are paired with employee partners from specific under-represented groups within the OPS. The program provides senior management members with an opportunity to understand organizational culture from the perspective of employees under-represented in senior management, and also provides employees with an opportunity to increase their understanding of how to navigate a large public sector organization.
The ministry will continue its Flex Counsel program, which allows lawyers in the ministry’s Legal Services Division to be targeted to specific areas of need.
In addition, the ministry will explore a project to revise certain job descriptions to allow front line court staff the flexibility to move to where services are most in demand.
The ministry will also analyze results from the annual government-wide Employee Engagement Survey. The survey measures how staff feel about the ministry’s senior leadership, as well as workplace morale, employee recognition, innovation, work-life balance, health and safety, and inclusion. Appropriate strategies will be put into place, based on survey results.
In 2013-14, the ministry launched its Ideas and Innovation Fund (IF), which allowed all ministry staff, including agencies, boards and commissions, to submit new ideas for improving practices and procedures in their workplaces. In 2014-15, a number of employee-driven ideas submitted to the IF will be selected for implementation. The IF will help the ministry to achieve the goals of its five-year strategic plan, and deliver a justice system that is innovative, responsive and sustainable.
The ministry will also continue its highly-successful Excelsior Awards Program, one of the longest running employee recognition programs in the Ontario Public Service. Since 1996, the program has demonstrated that highly-skilled, dedicated employees are valued and appreciated, and that their outstanding commitment and contributions to the ministry are recognized. The program continues to build on those successes and to preserve the ministry's culture of recognition.
The provincial government continues to face fiscal challenges as it looks to eliminate the provincial deficit by 2017-18. The ministry will respond to these challenges by promoting accountability and value for money across its operations. Improving the ministry’s ability to evaluate programs and make evidence-based decisions will ensure limited resources are invested in the right activities with the right outcomes for Ontarians.
In October 2013, Ontario launched a new Open Government initiative focused on increasing accountability and transparency. There are three action areas in the government’s approach to Open Government:
In 2014-15, the ministry will implement a number of tactics which demonstrate accountability and transparency in the spirit of the Open Government initiative. These include posting at least 10 data sets to the government’s Open Data catalogue and submitting a larger list to the public, to allow them to vote on which data sets they want to have released. This inventory will continue to grow as more data sets are identified and added.
In 2014-15, the ministry will continue to support and work with Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) as it continues to modernize its services to provide the best possible value for money.
LAO is an arm’s-length agency funded largely by the Province. LAO is responsible for the delivery of legal aid services to low-income Ontarians. LAO’s authority for providing these services is the Legal Aid Services Act, 1998.
LAO’s mandate includes promoting access to justice throughout Ontario for low-income people by providing consistently high quality legal aid services in a cost-effective and efficient manner. Legal aid protects constitutional and legal rights and ensures fair and equal treatment for low-income people, such as those facing criminal charges, parents involved in child protection proceedings or seeking custody, access or financial support for themselves or their children, and refugee claimants.
In September 2009, Ontario announced a Legal Aid transformation plan which included an investment of an additional $150 million over four years. This new investment has helped LAO to:
In the 2013-14 Ontario Budget, the government also announced a $30 million investment over three years in the legal aid system to improve access to justice and enhance outcomes for low-income people, victims of domestic violence and other vulnerable groups. The investment focuses on family law with the goal of strengthening the capacity of family law service centres and other community and legal clinics across Ontario to respond to evolving needs, and ensure direct services are sustainable over the long-term.
Funding is being allocated to initiatives that meet the objectives of increased access and enhanced frontline services. In February 2014, LAO implemented a new pilot project aimed at reducing unrepresented family litigants and improving outcomes. LAO will cover the cost of a family lawyer to support clients who choose mediation, and to transform those agreements into legally-binding documents. The pilot is available in 14 locations. LAO will be evaluating this pilot and will consider the possibility of rolling out this service province-wide in 2014.
As part of the 2014 Budget, Ontario is introducing a strategy to expand access to legal aid by raising the income eligibility threshold to qualify for legal aid assistance. The threshold has not increased since the 1990’s. As a result, more and more low-income Ontarians are unable to afford legal representation in the court system. When fully implemented, raising the threshold would allow an additional one million low income Ontarians to be eligible for legal aid services, more than doubling the number of eligible Ontarians. Increasing the legal aid eligibility threshold is part of Ontario’s five-year Poverty Reduction Strategy, and would build on Ontario’s commitment to ensuring access to justice for the people of Ontario.
Fraud affects all Ontarians in almost every aspect of daily life and its impact is seen in increased costs for insurance and health services, compromised credit ratings, and undermined confidence in government institutions and capital markets.
In March 2014, the government announced it is working to establish a special investigation and prosecution unit for fraud, including automobile insurance fraud. The initiative is intended to reduce costs in the auto industry and enable reduced auto insurance premiums paid by consumers. While it is difficult to determine exactly how much fraud costs the Ontario economy, it is significant. Investing in prosecuting major fraud could reap substantial monetary savings for Ontarians.
In 2014-15, the ministries of the Attorney General and Community Safety and Correctional Services will work together on establishing a project team to provide recommendations for a viable serious fraud strategy, and a long-term implementation plan for effective investigation and prosecution of fraud in Ontario.
For more information on the ministry’s programs and services, please contact the Ministry of the Attorney General at 1-800-518-7901 or visit http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/
|Description||Accrual 2014-15 Estimates||2013-14 Interim Actual|
|Expenditure $||Revenue $||Expenditure $||Revenue $|
|Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario||30,113,900||27,223,900||28,018,900||26,108,800|
|Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario||18,017,000||950,000||17,929,500||3,928,200|
|Criminal Injuries Compensation Board||32,092,700||31,364,300|
|Ontario Human Rights Commission||5,830,600||5,744,100|
|Human Rights Legal Support Centre||5,336,200||5,736,200|
|Office of the Independent Police Review Director||7,335,100||6,080,900|
|Legal Aid Ontario||369,869,100||51,000,000||355,799,100||51,336,900|
|Social Justice Tribunals||46,775,300||12,390,700||47,214,300||12,047,000|
|Safety, Licensing Appeals and Standards Tribunals Ontario||7,384,800||80,000||6,705,400||71,700|
*Interim actuals reflect the numbers presented in the Ontario Budget
|Vote||Estimates 2014-15||Change from 2013-14 Estimates||Estimates 2013-14 *||Interim Actuals 2013-14 *||Actuals 2012-13 *|
|Operating and Capital Expense|
|Policy, Justice Programs and Agencies||552,906,500||12,446,000||2.3||540,460,500||543,515,200||548,025,522|
|Victims and Vulnerable Persons||177,972,000||3,258,100||1.9||174,713,900||170,174,700||166,629,843|
|Political Contribution Tax Credit||9,973,000||3,798,100||61.5||6,174,900||8,212,600||5,754,995|
|Total Including Special Warrants||1,733,765,100||27,892,100||1.6||1,705,873,000||1,708,215,500||1,652,440,195|
|Less: Special Warrants||766,492,800||766,492,800 -||-||-||-|
|Total Operating and Capital Expense to be Voted||967,272,300||(738,600,700)||(43.3)||1,705,873,000||1,708,215,500||1,652,440,195|
|Ministry Total Operating and Capital Expense||1,740,508,714||27,929,600||1.6||1,712,579,114||1,798,659,414||1,666,552,378|
|Consolidation & Other Adjustments||33,650,000||(5,091,900)||(13.1)||38,741,900||30,861,500||16,785,900|
|Total Including Consolidation & Other Adjustments||1,774,158,714||22,837,700||1.3||1,751,321,014||1,829,520,914||1,683,338,278|
|Operating and Capital Assets|
|Policy, Justice Programs and Agencies||7,960,700||3,512,300||79.0||4,448,400||1,483,600||247,129|
|Victims and Vulnerable Persons||84,500||(3,300)||(3.8)||87,800||87,800||-|
|Total Including Special Warrants||46,201,200||(98,609,100)||(68.1)||144,810,300||102,764,400||267,266,829|
|Less: Special Warrants||19,250,500||19,250,500||-||-||-||-|
|Total Operating and Capital Assets To be Voted||26,950,700||(117,859,600)||(81.4)||144,810,300||102,764,400||267,266,829|
|Ministry Total Operating and Capital Assets||46,201,200||(98,609,100)||(68.1)||144,810,300||102,764,400||267,266,829|
*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 presented in the 2014 Ontario Budget
The Ministry of the Attorney General is responsible for providing a fair and accessible justice system that reflects the needs of diverse communities across the province. The ministry employs approximately 8,000 staff who deliver services in:
In 2013-14, the Province continued to support a strong justice system with the appointment of 10 judges to the Ontario Court of Justice, four regional senior judges to the Ontario Court of Justice, and 21 justices of the peace.
In the 2013 Ontario Budget, the government invested $30 million over three years in frontline legal aid services to enhance fairness and improve access to justice for low-income families and vulnerable Ontarians. In the first year, 70% of the new funding is being used to expand the reach of Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) Family Law Service Centres, making it possible for more low-income families to access legal advice, duty counsel and mediation services. 30% of the new funding will increase the capacity of community and legal clinics to better respond to the needs of vulnerable people. This investment could include new or enhanced services that help clients with poverty law, housing, mental health and domestic violence. The funding is in addition to the province’s $150 million investment in LAO over four years, announced in 2009.
LAO has been working in partnership with the ministry to deliver better family law services, including enhanced duty counsel and triage and mediation programs. The enhanced services are delivered through 17 LAO Family Law Service Centres across Ontario.
Legislation to modernize regulation of the legal profession was passed in December 2013. The new law allows the Law Society of Upper Canada to strengthen its hearing and appeals process for alleged cases of professional misconduct involving lawyers and paralegals, making it more transparent, fair and cost-effective. It also provides for more equitable representation of paralegals by increasing the number of paralegals who sit on the Law Society’s governing body from two to five. Improving the regulation of the legal profession is part of the government’s plan to invest in people, build modern infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate.
In November 2013, legislation was passed to clarify the rules governing Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) housing allowances. The new rules contained in the Members' Accommodation Allowances Act clarify that if an MPP’s entire riding is located 50 kilometres or less from the legislature, that MPP may not receive a housing allowance, regardless of where their principal residence is located. Establishing clear, fair MPP housing allowance rules is part of the government’s commitment to promoting financial accountability and transparency among members of the legislature, as well as its commitment to working collaboratively with all parties.
In June 2013, the Attorney General introduced the Protection of Public Participation Act. Bill 83 aims to help protect public participation in matters of public interest by giving Ontario’s courts a fast and efficient way to identify and deal with strategic lawsuits. If passed, this landmark bill would make Ontario the second province to successfully implement this type of law.
The Civil Remedies Act, 2001, enforced by the ministry’s Civil Remedies for Illicit Activities Office (CRIA), allows the Attorney General to ask the civil court for an order to freeze, take possession of, and forfeit to the Crown, property that is determined to be a proceed or an instrument of unlawful activity.
In 2013-14, $22.9 million in property was forfeited to the Crown. One of these forfeitures was for $19.8 million, the largest ever recovery under Ontario's civil forfeiture law. In September 2013, the ministry obtained a court order to recover these funds for victims of an international investment fraud. The money was linked to an international Ponzi scheme, under which returns to investors were paid from their own money or the money of other investors, rather than from profit. The Ponzi scheme resulted in $5.9 billion of investor losses worldwide. There are an estimated 28,000 victims.
Since November 2003, a total of $42.4 million in property has been forfeited to the Crown. Ontario has approximately $19.1 million in frozen property, pending completion of civil forfeiture proceedings.Ontario’s CRIA office is recognized nationally and internationally for its precedent-setting work.
The Attorney General uses funds forfeited under the Civil Remedies Act to compensate victims, recover the Crown's costs and disburse grants to designated institutions to support programs and initiatives that assist victims of unlawful activity or prevent unlawful activity that leads to victimization.
Since November 2003, a total of $21.2 million has been distributed to victims and $8.4 million has been distributed in grants.
In 2013, $1.4 million was awarded in civil remedies grants to 22 police services across the province for projects that prevent unlawful activities and help victims.
In September 2013, Ontario appointed a new director to oversee the province's Special Investigations Unit (SIU). Tony Loparco has more than 23 years of experience in the justice system and played a key role in reducing the number of youth in the criminal justice system. Mr. Loparco replaced outgoing SIU director Ian Scott whose five-year term made him the longest-serving director since the SIU was established in 1990.
The SIU is an independent oversight body responsible for conducting criminal investigations into serious injuries and deaths arising in the course of police work throughout the province. Ontario was the first province in Canada, and one of the few jurisdictions in the world, to establish an independent, civilian-led agency with the power to both investigate and charge police officers with a criminal offence.
The ministry maintained its commitment to the provision of court-connected family justice services in Ontario. In 2013, the ministry’s Court Services Division undertook a procurement process for the continuation of family mediation and information services province-wide. The ministry has now entered into 46 contracts with service providers to allow these services to continue for up to five years. The availability of family mediation and information services provides families experiencing a relationship breakdown with more opportunities to reach meaningful resolutions and move forward with their lives.
Throughout 2013-14, the ministry and its justice participants continued efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system and reduce delay through the Justice on Target (JOT) strategy.
Bail, case progression and effective use of technology continue to be key areas of focus. In 2013-14, a multi-stakeholder Bail Experts Table established by JOT made recommendations to improve local and systemic bail practices in Ontario. A collaborative effort to implement change continued throughout 2013-14.
JOT applies an evidence-based approach to the criminal justice system, fostering collaboration and innovation to improve processes while monitoring and measuring results. The strategy works with local and regional leaders to set goals to improve the percentage of cases meeting established benchmarks – a general number of appearances and days for most adult criminal cases in the system, taking into account that not every case can or should meet benchmarks 100% of the time.
Between January 1 and December 31, 2013 the province’s criminal justice system completed:
In 2013-14, the JOT-led Direct Accountability Program continued to be highly effective in removing low-level offences from the formal court system, while holding offenders accountable to their community. Between January 1 and December 31, 2013, the program resulted in $1,151,980 in restitution to victims and 104,143 hours of community service performed.
The Victim/Witness Assistance Program (V/WAP) provides information, assistance and support to victims and witnesses of crime to increase their understanding of, and participation in, the criminal court process.
Services are provided on a priority basis to the most vulnerable victims and witnesses of violent crimes including: domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and sexual assault, and hate crimes as well as to families of homicide or traffic fatality victims. Services begin once police have laid a charge and continue until disposition of the court case.
A measure that demonstrates the performance of this program is its service delivery standard, which requires that V/WAP make efforts to contact clients referred to the program within three business days. In 2013-14, the standard was met for over 96% of clients.
The Victim Quick Response Program (VQRP) provides immediate assistance to victims of violent crime. Through this program, eligible victims who have no other financial means are able to access short-term counselling, financial support for crime scene cleanup, emergency expenses or funeral expenses for family members who are victims of homicide.
Measures that demonstrate the performance of this program involve the time it takes to approve requests for services. The established service standard requires that 90% of requests for emergency and funeral expenses are approved within three business days of receipt of the request, and that 90% of requests for short-term counselling are approved within five business days.
In 2013-14, 79% of counselling requests were approved within five business days and 90% of funeral and emergency requests approved within three business days.
Through this program, eligible victims who have no other financial means can access the following services:
In April 2013, 11 individuals and six organizations received the Attorney General's Victim Services Awards of Distinction. The annual awards recognize victims of crime whose courage and dedication have raised awareness of victims' issues in Ontario, and organizations, professionals and volunteers that advocate on their behalf. The awards ceremony was held during National Victims of Crime Awareness Week, April 21-27, 2013.
The ministry supports a wide array of services for vulnerable people through community, agency and court-based initiatives. This includes decision-making provided by the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) for mentally incapable adults with no one else to act on their behalf.
In 2013-14, OPGT acted as guardian for approximately 11,340 mentally incapable people. In addition, OPGT received approximately 4,630 treatment referrals and performed 240 screening and field investigations into allegations of harm, self-neglect or abuse.Over the past four years OPGT has responded to:
The ministry delivers and supports special services for Ontario’s children. The Office of the Children’s Lawyer (OCL) represents children in child protection proceedings, litigation and custody and access disputes. The office helps over 20,000 children at any given time with the assistance of approximately 80 staff and 750 fee-for-service legal and clinical agents across the province.
In December 2013, the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario released a follow-up report on its 2011 Value for Money audit of the OCL. The Auditor General confirmed the value of OCL’s services and noted the organization’s progress in implementing the recommendations made by the Auditor.
The ministry also supports children through the Supervised Access Program, through which non-profit organizations across Ontario provide safe settings for visits and exchanges between a child and non-custodial parents or other persons, where there are concerns about safety.
For the past five years, more than 99% of Supervised Access Program visits and exchanges were completed without incident. Each year, the program provides over 70,000 supervised visits and exchanges.
In 2013-14, funding was provided through the Victims Justice Fund for an independent organization, Multilingual Community Interpreter Services, to develop and host a free online training program in English and French. The training is for service providers who support victims of human trafficking across Ontario, including people in the legal and law enforcement communities, as well as the labour, licensing enforcement, child support, health, welfare, social and victim services sectors.
Created in consultation with subject area experts, service providers, government staff, police and survivors of human trafficking, the program includes resources, tools and tips for professionals, volunteers and students. Training modules focus on topics such as human trafficking in Canada and Ontario, service needs of trafficked persons, the unique needs of Aboriginal and Francophone clients, and first response best practices. The training program is available online at helpingtraffickedpersons.org or http://aiderlesvictimesdelatraitedepersonnes.org/.
In December 2013, a $35 million settlement was approved to settle the class action lawsuit brought by former residents of the Huronia Regional Centre. In February 2014, settlements amounting to $32.7 million were approved for the class action lawsuits brought by former residents of the Rideau Regional Centre and Southwestern Regional Centre.
If there are still funds remaining after payment of all claims and plaintiffs’ legal fees, Ontario will invest in programs that benefit people with a developmental disability, to a maximum of $2.7 million for the Rideau and Southwestern settlements, and up to a maximum of $5 million under the Huronia Regional Centre settlement.
The institutions were residential facilities for people with developmental disabilities. Huronia and Rideau Regional Centres closed in 2009 and Southwestern Regional Centre closed in 2008, in accordance with a government decision to move residents to homes in the community, with appropriate supports and services.
These settlements provide compensation to those people who were residents of Huronia between 1945-2009, of Rideau from 1963-2008, and of Southwestern from 1963-2009, and who suffered harm while living at the facilities.
Premier Kathleen Wynne delivered a formal apology to the former residents of Huronia, Rideau and Southwestern Regional Centres in the Ontario Legislature on December 9, 2013.
The ministry’s focus on modernization to help meet its goal of continuous improvement in providing a fair, effective and accessible justice system was accelerated during 2013-14. Efforts to modernize and automate court services include the initiation of four remote appearance pilot projects. In family and criminal courts, electronic orders were developed to enable staff to more quickly produce final court orders both inside and outside of the courtroom. The ministry supported the Ontario Court of Justice goal of implementing e-orders for bail and probation/conditional sentence orders in courts across the province by July 2014.
The ministry’s SCOPE initiative continued to provide electronic scheduling, disclosure and data to front line prosecutors. The program was successfully launched in six Crown officesin the Toronto region, with a further rollout planned for the remaining 48 Crown offices across Ontario.
The newly-established Innovation Office is leading, or providing support to, the ministry’s modernization projects, which will move the ministry toward more efficient technology-enabled business processes and increase channels of service to the public.
In addition, the office has taken a leading role in preparing the ministry for change, including seeking innovative ideas from staff through the Ideas and Innovation Fund and other initiatives that will identify opportunities for, and support, change in the future.
In 2013-14, the ministry continued to focus on building a justice system that reflects the public’s expectations of a modern public service: fast, accessible, user-friendly and paper-free. In January 2014, the ministry met with members of the family law bar to discuss ideas for ways to modernize and improve services in Ontario’s family justice system, building on the recommendations in the recent report of the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters. In 2014-15, the ministry will continue to work on family justice reform proposals.
The Ministry’s Aboriginal Family Law Information Program continues to provide information for Aboriginal families on legal issues that arise upon separation and divorce, as well as on Ontario’s court system, and alternative dispute resolution. Written materials are available in English, French, Cree, Ojibway and Oji-Cree. A DVD recording of the mandatory information program, adapted to reflect Aboriginal values and approaches to resolving family conflict, was distributed to urban and remote Aboriginal communities across Ontario. Program materials are also available online on the Ministry’s website.
In February 2013, the Honourable Frank Iacobucci released his report, First Nations Representation on Ontario Juries. The report proposed a number of recommendations to increase First Nations representation on juries, and enhance the experience of Aboriginal Peoples with the Ontario justice system. On the day the report was released, the Attorney General committed to implement the first two recommendations: to establish an Implementation Committee to address the report’s recommendations, and, to form an Advisory Group to provide advice to the Attorney General on broader justice issues affecting Aboriginal Peoples.
Since February 2013, the ministry has conducted consultations with Aboriginal partners and justice sector stakeholders on the composition of the committees and their mandates.
In June 2013, the Attorney General appointed Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, and Assistant Deputy Attorney General Irwin Glasberg, as Implementation Committee co-chairs.
In September 2013, the 11-member committee consisting of First Nations, public service and judiciary representatives was officially appointed and held its inaugural meeting. The committee provides advice to the Deputy Attorney General on priority recommendations. In December 2013, the ministry appointed Ogichidaa Warren White of Treaty #3 and former Deputy Attorney General, Murray Segal, to serve as co-chairs of the Aboriginal Justice Advisory Group. The group provides a forum for the Attorney General to collaborate with Aboriginal leaders and communities, and others with knowledge and experience with Aboriginal justice issues.The inaugural meeting of the group is expected to be held in summer 2014.
In 2013-14, the ministry continued work on its courthouse signage initiative to make it easier for courthouse users to find the services they need.
In 2013, improvements to signs in the Ottawa, Hamilton, Windsor and Sarnia courthouses made these buildings easier to navigate. The improvements feature simple, accessible and bilingual signage with consistent, easy to understand terms, pictograms to clearly illustrate instructions, such as accessible parking, and braille and tactile signage for the visually impaired.
Similar signage projects will be completed in Brampton and Sault Ste. Marie in 2014.
Since 2009, courthouse accessibility coordinators across Ontario have been helping to arrange accommodation for users with disabilities, such as sign language interpretation, real-time captioning, and assistive listening devices. Other accessibility features at many Ontario courthouses include barrier-free main entrances, lower service counters for people using wheelchairs or scooters, and elevator buttons in braille.
The ministry continues to upgrade and renew existing facilities throughout the province.
Throughout 2013-14, Ontario continued to fund its new courthouse construction program and invest in existing courthouses. New courthouses are providing more modern, efficient and accessible justice services and are boosting regional economies by creating and supporting hundreds of jobs. All new courthouses are being designed and built to meet the Canada Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver standards, incorporating environmentally sustainable construction practices and energy-efficient design.
In July 2013, construction of the Quinte Courthouse was completed, with court operations beginning in late August.
The six-storey building in Belleville increases the number of courtrooms in the County of Hastings, provides better technology and security and improves access for people with disabilities.
The new courthouse also improves access to justice by consolidating Superior Court of Justice and Ontario Court of Justice services.
For the first time, a green roof was incorporated into the design of a new provincial courthouse to improve energy conservation and storm water runoff.
Another important design feature of the new courthouse is its ability to adapt to future needs. Areas of the courthouse can be modified to accommodate changing caseload volumes and the latest court technology, including courtrooms with moveable and removable public rails and seating, moveable and modular prisoner boxes, and portable interpretation booths which allow for a variety of courtroom setups.
In March 2014, a construction completion event was held at the new Elgin County Courthouse. The restoration and expansion of this heritage courthouse provides more modern, efficient and accessible justice services to meet the community’s needs for years to come.
Many of the heritage features of the courthouse, including its east, north and west elevations, dome and copper roof, and masonry and sculptural detailing, were conserved and restored.
A new, modern addition connects the restored heritage courthouse with the former Land Registry Office creating a modern courthouse complex with state-of-the-art technology, security, energy efficiency and barrier-free accessibility.
The newly consolidated courthouse brings the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice together into one building.
In 2014, the ministry looks forward to completing another modern courthouse in Thunder Bay, which will feature Ontario’s first Aboriginal Conference Settlement Suite.
The work of the independent inquiry into the events surrounding the collapse of the Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake continued in 2013-14, with public hearings taking place beginning in March 2013.
Led by Commissioner Paul R. Bélanger, the public inquiry is focusing on three key aspects of the Algo Centre Mall tragedy:
The Commission completed public evidentiary hearings in Elliot Lake in October 2013 and heard closing submissions from participants in November 2013. The Commission also held policy roundtables in Ottawa in November and December 2013 to canvas expert advice and opinion on the policy issues raised by the inquiry, as well as possible recommendations to government. The Commission will devote its attention to writing and producing the inquiry’s final report, which will be tabled in fall 2014.
In 2009, Ontario launched a $50 billion action against 14 tobacco companies, in an effort to recover past and ongoing health care costs for the treatment of tobacco-related illness.
Several of the companies being sued brought motions challenging the court’s jurisdiction over Ontario’s action, specifically because the companies are not located in this province.
The Superior Court dismissed the motions and the companies appealed. The Court of Appeal dismissed their appeal. In August 2013, the foreign defendants challenging jurisdiction served applications seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
In December 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision and did not grant leave to appeal to the foreign defendants.
Smoking is the number one cause of premature death and illness in Ontario, and costs the health-care systems $1.6 billion per year.
The ministry’s team of Crown Counsel will continue to vigorously pursue this action on behalf of taxpayers and all Ontarians who have been impacted by tobacco-related illness.
|Ministry Actual Expenditures ($)
|Staff Strength (as of March 31, 2014) *||8,068.15|
Interim Outlook 2013-14, the Ministry of the Attorney General (Excludes Consolidations) (Re-stated).
* Human Resources - MAG