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Biennial Report 2008-2009

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Foreword

It is my pleasure to present the 2008-2009 Ontario Court of Justice Biennial Report which covers the activity of the Court for the two-year period from January 1, 2008  to December 31, 2009.

The Ontario Court of Justice remains the largest court in Canada. Our Court’s judges and justices of the peace preside in courtrooms across this vast province, from its biggest cities to remote communities without road access. Over 600,000 criminal charges, 27,000 family law matters and millions of provincial offences matters are handled by the Ontario Court of Justice each year. Many can be resolved quickly; some are complex, lengthy proceedings. Every one of them is important to the community and those directly affected by any given case.

During the period of this report, the Ontario Court of Justice continued to focus on initiatives designed to improve accessibility, timeliness and service to the public. Much of that work is reflected in the content of this report. The assignment of additional backlog resources, participation in the government’s Justice on Target Strategy and a focus on expansion of family law services are just a few of the initiatives that demonstrate the Court’s commitment to improved public service.

Many of our judges and justices of the peace also sit on local or regional committees, working with other justice participants to improve the administration of justice in Ontario and so better serve the public. I take great pride in the Ontario Court of Justice and in the work of our judges and justices of the peace as they serve the public with proficiency, diligence and dedication.

Along with Associate Chief Justice Peter Griffiths and Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace John Payne, I thank all those who share responsibility for delivering justice in Ontario. Efficient and effective justice is a highly complex creation and the cooperation of many justice system partners is critical to its success.

The Honourable Annemarie E. Bonkalo
Chief Justice Ontario Court of Justice

March 2011


Section 1

The Ontario Court of Justice

Introduction

The Ontario Court of Justice is the largest court in Canada. It is a trial court with broad jurisdiction in criminal, youth criminal justice and family law as well as provincial offences. The Court has a complement of 284 judges and 345 full-time equivalent justices of the peace, along with a body of retired judges and justices of the peace who sit on a part-time (per diem) basis. The large volume of cases with which the Court deals each year and the large number of people who appear in varying capacities before the Ontario Court of Justice mean that, for many of the citizens of Ontario,  the Ontario Court of Justice represents the face of justice within the province.

In an average year, the judges of the Court will deal with approximately 600,000 adult and youth criminal charges and over 25,000 new family  proceedings. Within the same period of time,  justices of the peace of the Court will deal with millions of charges under the Provincial Offences Act, preside over thousands of bail hearings, and review thousands of search warrant applications. On a typical day, the justices of the peace in intake or criminal remand courts will meet with hundreds of people while judges deal with hundreds more in trial and plea courts.

The Court holds sittings on a regular basis at close to 200 locations throughout Ontario. These locations include courthouses shared with the judges of the Superior Court of Justice, largely in county towns, courthouses occupied solely by the Ontario Court of Justice, and courtrooms used on a regular but periodic basis in facilities owned or rented by the province of Ontario, a number of which are accessible only by air. Included among the 200 court locations are municipally owned and administered courthouses where justices of the peace sit to deal exclusively with offences under the Provincial Offences Act.

Many citizens of Ontario are aware of the Ontario Court of Justice locations in large metropolitan centres, such as Thunder Bay, Sudbury, London, Brampton, Toronto, Oshawa, and Ottawa. However, they may be less familiar with some of the more remote communities regularly served by the Court, such as Fort Albany, Wapakeka, Bearskin Lake, Attawapiskat, and Sachigo in the northern regions of the province. Wherever the Court is found, its goal remains the provision of the highest quality of judicial services.

A full list of court locations organized by region and municipal address, including jurisdiction, appears in Appendix 1.

Jurisdiction

The Ontario Court of Justice is one of two trial courts in Ontario that make up the Court of Ontario. The Ontario Court of Justice is composed of provincially appointed judges and justices of the peace. The other trial court, the Superior Court of Justice, is composed of federally appointed judges.

As a “statutory” court (a court created by statute), the Ontario Court of Justice’s jurisdiction is specifically given to it by the laws of Ontario and of Canada. This jurisdiction will be set out in greater detail below, but includes offences committed under provincial statutes, family law cases, and the overwhelming majority of criminal cases.

The Superior Court of Justice has two types of jurisdiction: “inherent” jurisdiction over those matters that are not expressly assigned by law to a particular court, and “statutory” jurisdiction, which it has been specifically given by statute. The Superior Court of Justice has jurisdiction over  all civil matters in the province. In family law, it has exclusive jurisdiction in the area of divorce and the division of property, as well as jurisdiction over matters of spousal/partner support and  custody, access, and support relating to children. In those parts of the province where the Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice has been established, the Family Court Branch has  exclusive jurisdiction in all family law matters, including child protection matters under the  Child and Family Services Act. In criminal law and youth criminal justice matters, the Superior Court hears all jury trials as well as trials before a judge sitting alone after a preliminary hearing has been held. It also sits on appeal from summary conviction trials heard before a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice.

The Ontario Court of Appeal hears appeals from decisions of both the Ontario Court of Justice and of the Superior Court of Justice.

The Supreme Court of Canada sits in appeal from decisions of the Ontario Court of Appeal and from all provincial and territorial Courts of Appeal across Canada.

The Framework for an Independent Court-An Overview of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Chief Justice and the Attorney General

The Ontario Court of Justice has a high degree of administrative independence and autonomy. In large part, this is due to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Chief Justice and the Attorney General, first signed on June 21, 1993. The MOU is not a formal contract, but an agreement between both parties. It establishes clear and distinct divisions of responsibility between the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Office of the Chief Justice for the purpose of administering the Ontario Court of Justice.

The opportunity to draft the MOU arose in 1990, when the Criminal and Family Divisions of the former Provincial Court were merged to create what is now the Ontario Court of Justice. The Honourable Sidney B. Linden, the first Chief Judge of the new Court, recognized the need for and benefits of increased administrative autonomy and used the opportunity created by the establishment of the Court to develop the MOU.

Executive Coordinator

The MOU created the position of Executive Coordinator. This position is a public service  position responsible for exercising the financial and administrative duties of the Office of the Chief Justice. The Executive Coordinator takes direction from the Chief Justice and meets regularly with the Assistant Deputy Attorney General, Court Services Division to discuss issues of mutual concern.

The Executive Coordinator is responsible for  managing the operations of the Office of the Chief Justice and all related human resource functions for a staff of 60 employees. These duties extend to both the Office of the Chief Justice in Toronto and to each of the offices of the regional senior judges and regional senior justices of the peace within the seven regions of the Court.

Through the MOU, the Court is able to control its internal administrative structure within its budget and within the parameters and constraints identified.

Funding and Budget

The operations of the Office of the Chief Justice are funded by the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the province of Ontario through the annual  estimates process.

The Office of the Chief Justice prepares an operating budget in accordance with the Ministry of the Attorney General’s budget planning cycle for inclusion in the Ministry’s estimates. A summary version of this budget forms part of the Judicial Services budget of the Ministry’s estimates.

The Minister is responsible for presenting the budget of the Office of the Chief Justice as part of the Ministry’s estimates. Over 90% of the budget of the Office of the Chief Justice relates to judicial and administrative salaries and benefits, and less than 10% to operating expenses.

Financial and Administrative Policies and Procedures

The MOU provides that the financial and administrative policies and procedures of the Office of the Chief Justice are to be consistent with the policies and procedures of Management Board Directives and Guidelines and with the Ministry of the Attorney General’s support services policies and procedures. The Office of the Chief Justice is responsible for verifying and processing all judicial accounts.

Provincial Auditor

The Provincial Auditor may audit the financial and administrative affairs of the Office of the Chief Justice as part of any audit conducted regarding the Ministry. Audits occur approximately once every seven years. The Office of the Chief Justice was last audited by the Ministry’s internal audit services in 2005.

Staffing

The staff members of the Office of the Chief Justice are public servants appointed under the Public Service Act. The Office of the Chief Justice is a relatively small operation, and staff benefits include public service conditions of employment and pension plans.

Exclusive Responsibilities of the Office of the Chief Justice

Out of its annual budget, the Office of the Chief Justice has the exclusive responsibility to fund:

  • judicial (judge and justice of the peace) education;
  • the per diem judge program;
  • the per diem justice of the peace program;
  • judicial expense allowances;
  • judicial salaries and benefits;
  • operational travel;
  • relocation expenses;
  • ceremonial expenses;
  • furniture, furnishings, supplies, and equipment for the Office of the Chief Justice; and
  • support staff in the Office of the Chief Justice, regional senior judges, and regional senior justices of the peace, including salaries and benefits, training and education, transportation and communications, furniture, furnishings, supplies, and equipment.

Support Services Provided  by the Ministry

Under the terms of the MOU, the Ministry provides the Office of the Chief Justice with financial and administrative support services, including:

  • specialized human resources expertise;
  • specialized advice and regional support for information technology and telecommunications;
  • internal audit services;
  • accommodation and facilities planning;
  • statistical information and services; and
  • some financial and administrative services.

Trial Coordination

While trial coordinators remain employees of the Court Services Division of the Ministry of the Attorney General and are not employees of the Office of the Chief Justice, the MOU provides that they are subject to the day-to-day direction of the office of the regional senior judge in each region.

Appointment of Associate Chief Justices, Regional Senior Judges, and Regional Senior Justices of the Peace

When the position of Associate Chief Justice, regional senior judge, or regional senior justice of the peace becomes vacant, the MOU provides for an extensive process of consultation by the Chief Justice. Following this process, the Chief Justice recommends names to the Attorney General for consideration for appointment to each vacant position.

Implementation Committee

The MOU provides for the creation of an Implementation Committee as the need arises. The Committee is intended to be comprised of  co-chairs who are nominated by the Deputy Attorney General and the Chief Justice. The co-chairs then select other committee members, upon whom they must both agree. The Committee may review and make recommendations to the Minister and the Chief Justice regarding:

  • policies, structures, and procedures necessary to give effect to the MOU;
  • reviews of additional support services that are more appropriately the responsibility of the Office of the Chief Justice and for which budgetary allocations should be transferred to the Office of the Chief Justice;
  • standards for support services that will  continue to be supplied by the Ministry;
  •  duties and responsibilities of the Executive Coordinator; and
  • other relevant matters, determined by the Deputy Attorney General and the Chief Justice.

The Implementation Committee has not been active. Although there have been amendments to the original MOU, those changes have been made incrementally and on the basis of consensus  and agreement.

2008 and 2009 Report Highlights

This report of the Ontario Court of Justice covers the period from January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2009. While the Court’s primary focus is on due process, fair trials and just outcomes, in 2008 and 2009 the Ontario Court of Justice also focused its attention on the related issues of accessibility, timeliness and service. The Court’s service approach to the delivery of justice led to a number of initiatives with others in the justice sector, to improve service to the public.

In the area of family law, various judges of the Court sat on a number of internal and external committees devoted to improving family law. Some of the internal projects that the Ontario Court of Justice engaged in included: developing a survey to determine the services and resources available at each of the family court sites; developing best practices for family programmes and services; and, setting out guiding principles and best practices for the scheduling of family matters.

The Court also initiated a committee to develop more integrated communication between the criminal and family courts for proceedings involving the same family. In addition, the Ontario Court  of Justice participated in a number of events,  supported by the Law Foundation, to encourage law students to consider a career in child protection.

With respect to the Court’s criminal law jurisdiction, the Ontario Court of Justice has been deeply engaged in the collaborative process of developing and implementing local solutions for the Justice on Target initiative. Justice on Target is a strategy to reduce delay in Ontario’s criminal courts. It was launched by the Attorney General on June 3, 2008.

The Court continued to assign judges to respond to criminal backlog situations at various court locations throughout the province. In 2008 and 2009  additional resources were assigned to Brampton, Chatham, Cornwall, Guelph, Halton, Newmarket, Oshawa, Ottawa, Toronto region and Windsor.

The Court also commenced a review of its criminal rules to make them simpler, more accessible to self represented accused parties and to respond to some of the recommendations of the Report of the Review of Large and Complex Criminal Case Procedures, published in 2008.

In 2009 the Ontario Court of Justice held the first province-wide symposium of the Court’s trial coordinators. The symposium provided an opportunity for trial coordinators to discuss  how technology could be used to improve their processes and to share best practices in delivering this essential service.

Members of the judiciary, together with staff at the Ministry of the Attorney General invested significant time in planning for a pandemic. Collaboration between the judiciary and the ministry in this process resulted in enhanced protocols and communications for delivering justice during emergency situations.

In 2007, the Access to Justice Act, 2006 made important amendments to the Justices of the Peace Act. The amendments included the ability of justices of the peace to sit on a per diem basis, improving the ability of the Court to serve the public and enhance access to justice of the peace services. By the end of 2009, the Ontario Court of Justice had a complement of 44 justices of the peace serving on a per diem basis. Access  to justice of the peace services was further enhanced in 2008, with the successful application by the Association of Justices of the Peace of Ontario to change the mandatory retirement age of justices of the peace to 75 years of age.

During the period of this report, the Court saw the appointment of two new regional senior judges, five new regional senior justices of the peace,  31 new judges and 17 new justices of the peace. A new position, the Senior Justice of the Peace, was also created in the Office of the Chief Justice.

Section 2

Organization of the Court

Administrative Structure

The Chief Justice is responsible for directing and supervising the sittings of the Court throughout the province and for assigning its judicial duties. The Associate Chief Justice and the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace provide support to the Chief Justice and have specific delegated responsibilities as well as those set out in statute.

For the purposes of judicial administration of the Ontario Court of Justice, the province is divided into seven geographic regions, each of which has a regional senior judge and a regional senior justice of the peace. Each regional senior judge is responsible for exercising the powers and performing the duties of the Chief Justice within his or her region, subject to the authority of the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice. The regional senior judge also assists in the supervision of the justices of the peace within that region in consultation with the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace and the regional senior justice of the peace. Across the province, local administrative judges and local administrative justices of the peace assist the regional senior judges and regional senior justices of the peace, respectively.

Chief Justice

The Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice is appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, based on the recommendation of the Attorney General. The term of office is eight years. Section 36(1) of the Courts of Justice Act provides that  the Chief Justice shall direct and supervise the  sittings of the Court and the assignment of its judicial duties.

The Chief Justice’s responsibilities include:

  • administering judicial resources throughout the province;
  • formulating and implementing policy  regarding case management and delay-reduction initiatives;
  • policy directives for all Court functions  (judicial, administrative, and financial);
  • assigning the duties and responsibilities of  the Associate Chief Justice, the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace, the regional senior judges, the Chief Justice’s Executive Committee and its  subcommittees, the Centre for Judicial Research and Education, and the Executive Coordinator of the Office of the Chief Justice, as well as the administrative staff;
  • acting as the Court’s liaison with the Attorney General regarding initiatives that will affect the administration of justice in the province;
  • consulting with the Attorney General and the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee regarding the appointment of new or  replacement judges;
  • approving and authorizing the annual extension of the terms of judges and justices of the peace who have reached age 65 or older;
  • serving on various committees, including:
    • chair, Chief Justice’s Executive Committee,
    • co-chair (with the Chief Justice of Ontario), Ontario Judicial Council,
    • chair, Justices of the Peace Review Council, and
    • member, Canadian Council of Chief Judges;
  • appointing judges to the Education Secretariat; and
  • working with other Courts, and being the Court’s representative at judges’ and Bar Association functions, formal ceremonies, retirement dinners, and funerals. The Chief Justice also presides at swearing-in ceremonies for the judges of the Ontario Court of Justice.

As set out by statute, the Chief Justice may act as the Provincial Administrator during the absence of the Lieutenant Governor of the province.

Associate Chief Justice

The Associate Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice is appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, based on the recommendation of the Attorney General, for a term of six years. The Chief Justice may assign duties and responsibilities to the Associate Chief Justice, including:

  • assisting the Chief Justice and regional senior judges with judicial management and judicial administration;
  • working closely with the Chief Justice and senior ministry officials in connection with various criminal-case management initiatives;
  • acting as chair of the Education Secretariat, which coordinates education for the judges  of the Court and collaborates with the  National Judicial Institute on judicial education programming;
  • providing judicial supervision to the counsel and staff of the Centre for Judicial Research and Education;
  • sitting as the alternate presiding member  of the Ontario Judicial Council, which  investigates complaints made by the public against provincial judges;
  • chairing the Ontario Court of Justice Library Committee and providing judicial leadership concerning the collective needs of judicial libraries and the judicial chambers collections;
  • attending educational conferences and  programs, and participating as a panellist  or speaker;
  • acting as the Chief Justice’s delegate on the Chief Justices’ Information Technology Committee;
  • ex-officio member of the Ontario Court of Justice Advisory Committee on Family Law, which provides leadership on issues relating to practice and procedure in the family law jurisdiction of the Ontario Court of Justice; and
  • serving as a member of the Canadian Council of Chief Judges.

Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace

The Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace is appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, based on the recommendation of the Attorney General, for a term of six years.

The Chief Justice may assign duties and responsibilities to the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of the Justices of the Peace, including:

  • developing policies that affect justices of  the peace;
  • providing direction to the regional senior judges regarding their direction and supervision of the sittings of the justices of the peace and the assignment of their judicial duties;
  • seeing to inter-regional issues, including transfers of justices of the peace between regions in consultation with the regional senior judges and regional senior justices  of the peace;
  • developing, presenting, and evaluating  education programs, workshops, and conferences, including post-appointment orientation  programs and core education programs, in consultation with the Justices of the Peace Advisory Committee on Education and  the Centre for Judicial Research and Education;
  • implementing regional and local justice of the peace mentoring programs;
  • overseeing the province-wide  personnel record management for justices of the peace, including all records of salaries and expenses, records of Orders in Council, and assignments of duties;
  • assigning duties to a justice of  the peace;
  • designating justices of the peace who can consider telewarrants, pursuant to section 487.1 of the Criminal Code;
  • overseeing the management and assignment of per diem justices of the peace;
  • supervising the judicial aspects of the Native Justice of the Peace Program, including the provision of support to the administration and development of the program;
  • chairing all meetings of the Justice of the Peace Executive Committee; and
  • serving as a member of the Canadian Council of Chief Judges.

Under the provisions of the Justices of the Peace Act, the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace:

  • advises and assists the Chief Justice on all matters related to justices of the peace under the direction of the Chief Justice;
  • may establish standards of conduct for justices of the peace, including a plan for bringing the standards into effect, and shall implement the standards and plan when they have been reviewed and approved by the Justices of the Peace Review Council;
  • shall establish a plan for the continuing  education of justices of the peace, and shall implement the plan when it has been reviewed and approved by the Justices of the Peace Review Council;
  • is a member of the Justices of the Peace Review Council and shall chair all meetings  of the Review Council in the absence of the Chief Justice;
  • determines the workload of part-time justices of the peace; and
  • exercises a number of functions as authorized in the regulations made pursuant to the Justices of the Peace Act.

In addition to duties related to the justices of the peace bench, the Associate Chief Justice Coordinator of Justices of the Peace is responsible for:

  • assisting the Chief Justice and regional senior judges with judicial management and judicial administration; and
  • overseeing the management and assignment of per diem judges in consultation with the regional senior judges.

Regional Senior Judges

Under the provisions of the Courts of Justice Act, the Lieutenant Governor in Council appoints the regional senior judge for a term of three years, renewable for a further three years upon the  recommendation of the Chief Justice.

The Courts of Justice Act also sets out the general powers of the senior administrative judges of the Ontario Court of Justice, outlined below.

  • The Chief Justice is authorized to direct and supervise the sittings of the Court and the assignment of its judicial duties.
  • A regional senior judge is authorized, subject to the authority of the Chief Justice, to exercise the powers and perform the duties of the Chief Justice in his or her region.

Under the provisions of the Justices of the Peace Act, the regional senior judge, under the direction of the Chief Justice, shall direct and supervise the sittings of the justices of the peace in his or her region and the assignment of their judicial duties. The regional senior judge may delegate this authority to the regional senior justice of the peace and to one or more justices of the peace from the same region.

A number of administrative tasks can be assigned by the Chief Justice to regional senior judges, including:

  • assigning and scheduling judicial resources within the region, and exchanging judges from other regions;
  • designating and delegating duties to local administrative judges in locations with more than one judge;
  • acting as liaison for the regional senior justice of the peace, in conjunction with the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace;
  • arranging and conducting swearing-in  ceremonies for newly appointed judges and justices of the peace, and the training and  orientation of new appointees;
  • administering the judicial budget (including approving travel expenses, judicial allowance expense claims, and conference and seminar attendance and associated expenses);
  • organizing and conducting the annual regional judges’ meeting;
  • approving set fines for bylaws of municipalities within the region;
  • performing judicial personnel services  (including tracking sick leave and vacation days, compiling and maintaining personal information, and noting retirement dates);
  • acting as local spokesperson and representative of the Ontario Court of Justice at ceremonial functions and educational seminars;
  • acting as a liaison among judges within the region, the Office of the Chief Justice, and  the Chief Justice’s Executive Committee; and
  • administering the regional office, and overseeing the regional staff.

Senior Advisory Justice of the Peace

The position of Senior Advisory Justice of the Peace was created by the Court to assist the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace, primarily in the field of education. The senior advisory justice of the peace is responsible for assisting in the planning, development, and implementation of education programs for  justices of the peace. With the assistance of the Senior Justice of the Peace and legal counsel from the Centre for Judicial Research and Education, he or she takes the lead in formulating and delivering the orientation and education for new justices of the peace.

Historically, this position has been filled by  persons who have been justices of the peace for a considerable time and who possess leadership and management skills and experience. This person provides a critical link between the Coordinator and the justices of the peace bench at large.

The senior advisory justice of the peace chairs most of the justice of the peace standing committees, such as the Advisory Committee on Education and the Provincial Offences Act Subcommittee, and sometimes chairs or participates in various ad hoc committees formed with other justice partners. Other daily duties include dealing with inquiries from the public, the police, members of the Bar, and other  judicial officials.

Senior Justice of the Peace

The Senior Justice of the Peace is a new position created in the Office of the Chief Justice, effective September 1, 2008. The position was created to advise and assist the Senior Advisory Justice of the Peace and the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace on all issues pertaining to the education of justices of the peace. Other duties are also assigned as required by the Senior Advisory Justice of the Peace or the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace.

The appointment to this position is made by the Chief Justice and has a three year term which is renewable at the discretion of the Chief Justice.

Senior Justice of the Peace/Administrator of the Native Justice of the Peace Program

The Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace and the Ministry of the Attorney General jointly administer the Native Justice of the Peace Program. Within the Court, the principal responsibility for this program falls to the Senior Justice of the Peace/Administrator of the Native Justice of the Peace Program. The program’s  mandate is to encourage and enable Aboriginal persons to play a larger decision-making role in the administration of justice by serving as justices of the peace, especially in areas of the province where large numbers of Aboriginal people reside. The program presents a pre-appointment qualifying training program for candidates interested in a position as a Native justice of the peace. Candidates for these programs are determined in consultation with First Nations councils, Native organizations, and justice officials.

Native justices of the peace perform the same duties as other justices of the peace presiding over courts in which both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal persons appear.

The role of the Senior Justice of the Peace/Administrator for this program was created to be responsible for:

  • consulting with the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace on policy, initiatives, and operational activities regarding Native justices of the peace;
  • consulting with Native justices of the peace and liaising with the regional senior justice of the peace and others to resolve problems when requested;
  • attending regular meetings of the Justices of the Peace Executive Committee and the Advisory Committee on Education;
  • approving in advance all community justice development activities by Native justices of the peace, and approving appropriate expenditures;
  • liaising with the regional senior justice of the peace concerning the planning and scheduling of community justice development activities by Native justices of the peace;
  • developing and coordinating special education programs for Native justices of the peace;
  • organizing community swearing-in ceremonies for newly appointed Native justices of the peace;
  • receiving and reviewing appropriate statistics on the judicial and community activities of all Native justices of the peace;
  • referring any conflicts about the assignment of judicial duties associated with the program to the regional senior judge or regional senior justice of the peace; and
  • providing assistance, counsel, and support to all Native justices of the peace as required.

Regional Senior Justices of the Peace

Under the provisions of the Justices of the Peace Act, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may appoint a regional senior justice of the peace for each region, upon the recommendation of the Attorney General. Prior to making the recommendation for this appointment, the Attorney General consults with the Chief Justice. The term of office for a regional senior justice of the peace is  three years. A regional senior justice of the peace may be reappointed once, for a further term of three years, upon the recommendation of the Chief Justice.

The regional senior justice of the peace shall advise and assist the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace and regional senior judge on all matters pertaining to justices of the peace.

The regional senior judge may delegate the authority to exercise specified functions to the regional senior justice of the peace. Functions can include:

  • allocating justice of the peace resources for  the region;
  • scheduling and assigning duties, arranging coverage for attendance at education programs, and tracking judicial exchanges within and from other regions;
  • arranging and conducting swearing-in  ceremonies for newly appointed justices of  the peace and arranging the education and  orientation of new appointees;
  • acting as liaison between the justices of the peace in his or her region and the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace and the regional senior judge;
  • participating in regional and provincial  committees and work groups;
  • supervising the delivery of judicial personnel services (tracking sick leave and vacation days, compiling and maintaining personal information, and noting retirement dates);
  • supervising the judicial budget administration (approving travel expenses, justice of the peace allowance expense claims, and conference and seminar attendance expenses); and
  • coordinating with the regional office and assigning work to the regional senior justice  of the peace secretary.

Committees

Chief Justice’s Executive Committee  (CJEC)

Section 36(6) of the Courts of Justice Act provides that the Chief Justice may hold meetings with the regional senior judges to consider any matter  concerning sittings of the Ontario Court of Justice and the assignment of its judicial duties. Partly  in response to this provision, the Chief Justice  has established the Chief Justice’s Executive Committee (CJEC) to assist the Chief Justice with this work. CJEC is made up of the Chief Justice, the Associate Chief Justice, the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace, the seven regional senior judges, the President, President-Elect, and Vice-Presidents (Criminal and Family) of the Ontario Conference of Judges, and staff members from the Office of the Chief Justice.

CJEC meets on a quarterly basis to establish province-wide policies within the Court. Subcommittees of CJEC are established to examine current issues and to formulate draft policies, which are submitted to CJEC and, if endorsed, will become the policy of the Court. CJEC also serves as a forum for the exchange of information among the regions, the Ontario Conference of Judges, the Chief Justice’s Office, the regional senior judges, the provincial judiciary, and external organizations, such as the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Justice of the Peace Executive Committee (JPEC)

The Justice of the Peace Executive Committee (JPEC) is a subcommittee of CJEC. The role of JPEC is to advise and assist the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace in his/her work and to advise and assist the regional senior judges in their duties related to sections 15(1) and 15(2) of the Justices of the Peace Act.

JPEC membership is comprised of the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace, the Senior Advisory Justice of the Peace, the Senior Justice of the Peace, the seven regional senior  justices of the peace, the Senior Justice of the Peace/Administrator for the Native Justice of the Peace Program, and the President and Vice-President of the Association of Justices of the Peace of Ontario.

JPEC meets regularly (approximately six times per year) to propose province-wide policies on judicial and administrative matters as they pertain to  justices of the peace. Subcommittees of JPEC are established to formulate draft policies, which are submitted back to JPEC for discussion and  formalization. Draft policies are submitted to CJEC for review and endorsement prior to becoming a policy of the Court. The Justice of the Peace Executive Committee also serves as a forum for exchanging information about best-practices among the regions, the Association of Justices of the Peace of Ontario, the Chief Justice’s Office, CJEC, the provincial judiciary, and non-judicial stakeholders involved in the administration of justice.

Information about the subcommittees that report to JPEC can be found in Section 6.

Ontario Court of Justice Design Standards Committee

The Ontario Court of Justice Design Standards Committee is a subcommittee of CJEC. The  mandate of this Committee is to deal with courthouse facility issues as they relate to the Ontario Court of Justice, specifically:

  • to represent the Ontario Court of Justice as a liaison with the Ministry of the Attorney General and others to review design standards for courthouses;
  • to review proposals for new courthouses or alterations to existing courthouses;
  • to compare proposed drawings and designs to established guidelines in order to promote the uniform design of courthouses in Ontario; and
  • to maintain the relevance of the design standards. The Committee will review and suggest amendments to the standards as requirements change and different needs are identified.

The term “design standards” is a shorthand  reference to the Province of Ontario Architectural Design Standards for Courthouses (1999). The Committee is involved in revisiting all the standards with specific attention, at present, to multi-accused high security courtrooms and family law design issues. The Court’s Design Standards Committee is composed of:

  • the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace;
  • one regional senior judge;
  • two judges of the Ontario Court of Justice;
  • one regional senior justice of the peace; and
  • the senior advisory justice of the peace.

The Committee also meets as a broader committee with various persons from the Ministry of  the Attorney General and with the Facilities Committee of the Superior Court of Justice.

Ontario Court of Justice Library Committee

The Ontario Court of Justice Library Committee is a subcommittee of CJEC. The Committee is responsible for advising the Chief Justice regarding matters of the shared judicial base-court library collections and individual judicial chambers  collections within the province. This includes  formulating library policy, reviewing and revising the library and chambers standards, and establishing alternate ways of obtaining legal research and information through electronic sources.

The principal goal of the Committee is to ensure that all judges and justices of the peace, regardless of where they are located, have access to necessary library resources to assist them in carrying out their judicial duties. By establishing a centralized library acquisition process, the Committee has been able to reduce the cost of library acquisitions while maximizing the effective use of the library budget.

The Associate Chief Justice chairs the Library Committee, which is composed of five other judges of the Court, two justices of the peace, the Executive Coordinator, and the Ontario Court of Justice Library Technician. The Committee is assisted by the manager of Judicial Library Services. It may also address other library issues, including facilities, library personnel, budget,  and expenditures.

Education Secretariat

The Education Secretariat is a subcommittee of CJEC. This Committee coordinates education  policy and programming for all of the judges of the Ontario Court of Justice and is responsible for providing high quality judicial education in a timely and cost-effective manner. All education program plans are developed through or presented to the Secretariat, which allocates the funding for educational programming from within the Court’s education budget.

Further information about this Committee can be found in Section 7.

Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee

The mandate of the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee (JEAC) is to render confidential, non-binding opinions to judges and justices of the peace who inquire about potential ethical issues.

The JEAC consists of two judges (who are not members of the Chief Justice’s Executive Committee or the Ontario Judicial Council); one justice of the peace (who is not a member of the Justices of the Peace Review Council); one member of the Bar; and one layperson (who is not an  officer, public servant, or employee of any branch of government).

The JEAC conducts proceedings in private and does not release information that identifies the inquiring judge or justice of the peace. All  proceedings of the JEAC are conducted in an informal, expeditious, and completely confidential manner, and its opinions are considered to be advisory only.

Chiefs’ IT Steering Committee

The Chiefs’ IT Steering Committee is responsible for the governance and oversight of judicial IT where all three Courts of Ontario are impacted.  The Committee’s responsibilities include:

  • providing oversight to the Judicial Information Technology Office;
  • approving the multi-year IT strategic plan;
  • ongoing oversight of the security and  segregation of judicial information; and
  • approving judicial IT policies affecting  all Courts.

Members of the Steering Committee from each court are determined by their respective Chief Justice and the Judicial Information Technology Office performs a secretariat role for the Committee.

Further information about the mandate and  composition of other committees is outlined in later sections of this report.

Office of the Chief Justice Staff Resources

Executive Coordinator

The Executive Coordinator is the chief administrative and operations officer for the Office of the Chief Justice and is responsible to provide executive staff leadership to the Chief Justice, the Associate Chief Justice, and Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace, as well as to the Chief Justice’s Executive Committee and the Justices of the Peace Executive Committee.

Responsibilities include:

  • delivering a program of administrative and operational support services for all full-time judges and justices of the peace located throughout Ontario;
  • identifying, planning, and controlling resource requirements for staff of the Chief Justice’s Office as well as for the seven regional offices across the province;
  • providing financial management and  controllership over the annual budget;
  • acting as liaison between the judiciary and senior Ministry officials; and
  • ensuring that the Office of the Chief Justice operates in accordance with commonly accepted public sector management  principles and concepts.

Counsel

Counsel within the Office of the Chief Justice provide legal and policy advice and support to the Chief Justice and the two Associate Chief Justices. Counsel identify and develop proposals in response to emerging issues within the Court. They analyze the impact that changes in legislation, rules,  procedures, practices, and other factors have on the judiciary and court operations, and make  recommendations. Counsel also participate on behalf of the Office of the Chief Justice in various internal and external committees and initiatives.

Centre for Judicial Research and Education (CJRE)

The Centre for Judicial Research and Education (CJRE) is a law library and computer research facility that is accessible to the Ontario judiciary by telephone, e-mail, or fax. The CJRE responds to specific research requests from the judiciary,  provides legal advice and opinions; writes, edits, and updates reference materials, manuals, and newsletters on emerging case law and new legislation for the judiciary; and supports the Education Secretariat and Advisory Committee on Education in the development and presentation of educational programming for the judiciary.

Finance

The Financial Analyst provides financial planning, support, and advice to the Office of the Chief Justice, including financial estimates, allocations, planning, monitoring, reporting, and analysis. This position develops and prepares the Office of the Chief Justice’s budget plan submission and ongoing monthly forecast submissions to the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Information Technology

In February 2008, the three courts in Ontario established a new information technology  organization known as the Judicial Information Technology Office. The office was established to manage and deliver technology services to the judiciary and oversee technology services on the judiciary’s behalf. It is accountable to the executive leads of each of the Offices of the Chief Justice of the three courts in Ontario.

Judicial Support

The Senior Manager, Judicial Support and Education Planning is responsible for the implementation of education programs for both judges and justices of the peace. As directed by the chair of the Education Secretariat and the chair of the Advisory Committee on Education, staff organize the administrative and logistical details for educational programs, seminars, and conferences for the  judiciary throughout the province, including post-event support.

The Senior Manager, Judicial Support and Education Planning also supports the administration staff in the Centre for Judicial Research and Education.

Operational Support

The Senior Manager, Operational Support oversees the operations of the Office of the Chief Justice and the regions, provides support and advice on human resources and financial matters, and implements corporate programs and judicial policies. Staff process financial transactions and provide a range of administrative, secretarial, and reception support services to the Chief Justice, the two Associate Chief Justices, the Senior Advisory Justice of the Peace, the Senior Justice of the Peace and the Executive Coordinator.

Regional Operations

In each region, the Manager, Regional Judicial Support, directly supervises the administrative staff in the office of the regional senior judge and the regional senior justice of the peace. The Regional Manager and staff provide administrative support, including:

  • acting as a liaison between the regional senior judge’s office and the trial coordinators in the region;
  • responding to internal and external general inquiries from judges, justices of the peace, lawyers, Crown attorneys, policy, ministry staff and the public;
  • managing the scheduling for all courts in the region;
  • managing the annual regional meeting and the swearing-in ceremonies for newly appointed judges and justices of the peace; and
  • managing all financial administration within the budget allotted to each region.

The Regions of the Court

For judicial administration purposes within the Ontario Court of Justice, the province of Ontario is divided into seven regions. Each region has a regional senior judge who is responsible for  exercising the powers and performing the duties of the Chief Justice within that region, as well as a regional senior justice of the peace. The office of the regional senior judge is the central hub in each of the seven regions. The office of the regional senior justice of the peace is generally located close to that of the regional senior judge. Together, they coordinate the delivery of all judicial support services to the judges and justices of the peace of that region.

Central East

The Central East Region of the Ontario Court of Justice is located north and east of the Toronto Region. Its population at present stands at more than 2 million and continues to grow at one of the fastest rates in Canada.

The Central East Region has ten base court locations and seven satellite courts. As of December 31, 2009, 41 judges and 56 justices of the peace are assigned to the region. This  represents an increase in complement of one judge. The region is also regularly assisted by the work of five per diem judges and six per diem justices of the peace. Unlike other regions, Ontario Court judges of the Central East Region hear only criminal and youth criminal justice cases. The Ontario Court of Justice has no family law jurisdiction within the region. The Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice has exclusive family law jurisdiction within the region. Backlog-reduction initiatives took place in Oshawa, Newmarket and Simcoe/Muskoka in 2008 and in Oshawa and Tri County in 2009, to advance the Court’s commitment to hear criminal cases in a timely manner.

The Community Treatment Court in Newmarket and the Drug Treatment Court in Durham  continue to operate. These courts address the needs of accused persons with mental health issues and of adults and youth with drug addiction issues. Construction on the Cobourg consolidated courthouse was completed. The Durham consolidated courthouse is scheduled to open in early 2010.

In the Central East Region, the flow of criminal charges (including Criminal Code, youth, and  federal offences) and provincial offences charges in the Ontario Court of Justice in 2008 and 2009 is summarized below.

In 2008 the number of criminal charges received was 105,379, an increase of 1% from the previous year. The number of criminal charges disposed the same year was 104,085, 2% more than the previous year. At the end of the year, the total number of active criminal charges pending was 51, 447, a 1% increase from the end of the previous year. In 2009 the number of criminal charges received was 105,653, an increase of .2 % from the previous year. The number of criminal charges disposed the same year was 109, 265, 5% more than the previous year. At the end of the year, the total number of active criminal charges pending was 48,005, a 7% decrease from the end of the previous year.

In 2008 the number of provincial offences charges laid was 351,933, a decrease of 0.4% over the previous year. While the set fines for many provincial offences are simply paid, requiring no involvement of the court, in 2008 the court dealt with and  disposed of 213,730 provincial offences charges, a decrease of 1.0% over the previous year. In 2009 the number of provincial offences charges laid was 366,008, an increase of 4% over 2008. In 2009 the court dealt with and disposed of 211,570 provincial offences charges, a decrease of 1.0% over 2008.

The region is the home of the only telewarrant centre in the province, located in Newmarket. Justices of the peace receive applications for search warrants and other warrants from across the  province 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Central West

The Central West Region of the Ontario Court of Justice is roughly triangular-shaped. It stretches from Orangeville in the north and is bounded to the south by Lakes Erie and Ontario. Its ethnically diverse population currently stands at 2.8 million, making Central West the most populous region in Ontario. Central West includes Hamilton, Brant, Peel, Haldimand, Norfolk, Halton, Niagara, and Dufferin counties. Two of the province’s larger First Nations Reserves, the Six Nations Reserve and the New Credit Reserve, are located in the region.

The Central West Region has nine base court locations and two satellite courts. As of December 31, 2009, 53 full-time judges and 59 justices of the peace are assigned to hear criminal and other federal statute matters, provincial offences, and family matters in the region. The region is also regularly assisted by the work of six per diem judges and 16 per diem justices of the peace.

A large number of provincial highway traffic matters are heard by justices of the peace in the region. This is the result of vehicular traffic stemming from three border crossings into the United States and the heavy traffic stream along the Queen Elizabeth Way and the 400 series highways that run through the region.

In the Central West Region, the flow of criminal charges (including Criminal Code, youth, and federal offences), family proceedings, and provincial offences charges in the Ontario Court of Justice in 2008 and 2009 is summarized below.

In 2008 the number of criminal charges received was 97,564, a decrease of 1.6% from the previous year. The number of criminal charges disposed the same year was 93,758, a decrease of 4.4% from the previous year. At the end of the year, the total number of active criminal charges pending was 52,270, a 6.1% increase from the end of the previous year. In 2009 the number of criminal charges received was 95,177, a decrease of 2.5% from the previous year. The number of criminal charges disposed the same year was 95,169, 1.5% more than the previous year. At the end of the year, the total number of active criminal charges pending was 51,279, a 1.9% decrease from the end of the previous year.

In 2008 there were 6,136 family proceedings received and 4,983 disposed, and there were 11,862 active family proceedings pending at the end of the year. In 2009 there were 6,308 family proceedings received, an increase of 2.8% from the previous year. There were 5,572 disposed, 11.8% more than the previous year. At the end  of the year there were 12,566 active family  proceedings pending, 5.9% more than the end of the previous year.

In 2008 the number of provincial offences charges laid was 370,995, an increase of 0.4% over the previous year. While the set fines for many  provincial offences are simply paid, requiring no involvement of the court, in 2008 the court dealt with and disposed of 383,397 provincial offences charges, a decrease of 3.1% over the previous year. In 2009 the number of provincial offences charges laid was 400,375, an increase of 7.9% over 2008.   In 2009 the court dealt with and disposed of 391,554 provincial offences charges, an increase of 2.1% over 2008.

Backlog-reduction initiatives involving the assignment of more resources in the region have reduced delay and led to more efficient scheduling. In 2008 and 2009, these initiatives primarily took place in Halton (232 days), Brampton (153 days), and Orangeville (150 days).

Three weekend and statutory holiday (WASH) courts operate, with Halton and Brantford matters appearing in Hamilton via video technology. The region also has a Mental Health Court in Brampton.

East

The East Region of the Ontario Court of Justice stretches from Trenton in the west to the Ottawa River to the north and L’Orignal to the east. The region has a population of 1.6 million. The cultural and linguistic diversity of the region is reflected in its large Francophone population. Several Aboriginal communities are located in its western and eastern areas. The region is made up of nine counties, and includes the nation’s capital city  of Ottawa.

As of December 31, 2009, 30 full-time judges and 38 justices of the peace are assigned to the region, assisted by six per diem judges and three per diem justices of the peace. Ten base courts and ten satellite courts are located throughout the region. Of note are the bilingual courts, which operate to serve the region’s Francophone population.

With Canada’s capital city within its boundaries, it follows that there are some unique matters for adjudication in the region. Political demonstrations directed at Canadian and foreign governments sometimes result in criminal charges. As well, some of the courts in the region hear a significant number of cases involving criminal activity related to the smuggling of contraband and illegal immigration over the Cornwall/United States border crossing.

The Ontario Court of Justice hears adult and youth criminal justice matters throughout the region, as well as family law matters in Renfrew, Hastings, and Prince Edward counties. Within the rest of the region, the Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice has exclusive jurisdiction over family law matters.

The flow of criminal charges in the East Region (including Criminal Code, youth, and federal offences), family proceedings, and provincial offences charges in 2008 and 2009 is summarized below.

In 2008 the number of criminal charges received was 88,003, an increase of 9.6% from 2007. The number of criminal charges disposed was 84,209, 5% more than in 2007. At the end of 2008, the total number of active criminal charges pending was 37,388, an 8.1% increase from the end of 2007. In 2009 the number of criminal charges received was 86,969, a decrease of 1.3% from 2008. The number of criminal charges disposed was 87,212, 3.6% more than in 2008. At the end of the year the total number of active criminal charges pending was 35,560, a 4.9% decrease from the end of 2008.

In 2008 there were 1,706 family proceedings received and 1,687 disposed, and there were 1,258 active family proceedings pending at the end of the year. In 2009 there were 1,613 family proceedings received, a decrease of 5.5% from 2008. There were 1,650 disposed, 2.2% less than in 2008. At the end of the year there were 1,208 active family proceedings pending, 4% less than at the end of 2008.

In 2008 the number of provincial offences  charges received was 245,170, a decrease of 8.9% over the previous year.  In 2008 provincial offences charges disposed were 247,751, a decrease of 8.4% over the previous year. In 2009 the number of provincial offences charges received was 243,149, a decrease of .8% from 2008. In 2009 charges disposed were 240,500, a decrease of 2.9% from the previous year.

A Drug Treatment Court officially opened in Ottawa in 2006. This court operates in conjunction with its treatment providers, Rideauwood Addiction and Family Services. Both an adult and youth Mental Health Court are also operating in Ottawa. The creation of these courts were a result of the collaboration and strong commitment of the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, Crown Attorney’s Office, defence counsel, Legal Aid lawyers, and Court Services Division staff.

Northeast

The Northeast Region of the Ontario Court of Justice extends from Mattawa in the east to Wawa in the west and from Parry Sound in the south to Peawanuk on the coast of Hudson Bay in the north. It is made up of the districts of Nipissing, Parry Sound, Sudbury, Timiskaming, Algoma, Cochrane, and a portion of Kenora. The main urban centres are Sudbury, Timmins, North Bay, Parry Sound, and Sault Ste. Marie. The population of this region is 551,000 and includes approximately 70% of the people who live north of the Great Lakes.

The region covers a significant amount of land, occupying nearly 26% of the total landmass of Ontario. Because of the size of the region, judges and justices of the peace travel for many hours in all kinds of weather in order to serve the courts.

Within the region are ten base courts and 20 satellite courts, six of which are on First Nations Reserves. As of December 31, 2009, 22 full-time judges and 23 justices of the peace are assigned to work in these various locations. The region is also regularly assisted by the work of two per diem judges and five per diem justices of the peace.

In the Northeast Region, the flow of criminal charges (including Criminal Code, youth, and federal offences), family proceedings, and provincial offences charges in the Ontario Court of Justice in 2008 and 2009 is summarized below.

In 2008 the number of criminal charges received was 46,953, an increase of 3.6% from the previous year. The number of criminal charges disposed the same year was 45,821, 6.1% more than the previous year. At the end of the year the total number of active criminal charges pending was 16,896, a 2.6% increase from the end of the previous year. In 2009 the number of criminal charges received was 44,687, a decrease of 4.8% from the previous year. The number of criminal charges disposed the same year was 44,592, representing 2.7% less than the previous year. At the end of the year the total number of active criminal charges pending was 17,125, a 1.4% increase from the end of the previous year.

In 2008 there were 3,292 family proceedings received and 2,929 disposed, and there were 3,834 active family proceedings pending at the end  of the year. In 2009 there were 3,367 family  proceedings received, an increase of 2.3% from the previous year. There were 3,142 disposed of, equating to 7.3% more than the previous year. At the end of the year there were 3,975 active family proceedings pending, 3.7% more than the end of the previous year.

In 2008 the number of provincial offence charges laid was 87,347, a decrease of 11.1% over the previous year. While the set fines for many provincial offences are simply paid, requiring no involvement of the court, in 2008 the court dealt with and  disposed of 88,465 provincial offence charges which is a decrease of 9.9% over the previous year.  In 2009 the number of provincial offence charges laid was 89,582, an increase of 2.6% over 2008.  In 2009 the number of provincial offence charges disposed of was 89,252, an increase of 0.9%  over 2008.

Northwest

Geographically the Northwest Region is the largest region of the Ontario Court of Justice, although it contains less than 2% of the province’s population. This region occupies almost half of the province of Ontario, bounded by Hudson Bay to the north and by the Manitoba border to the west.

The population of the Northwest Region is growing very slowly. Towns dependant on the forestry industry are losing population, and Aboriginal communities are gaining population. The Aboriginal population in the Region’s two urban centres, Thunder Bay and Kenora, is increasing rapidly.

Over the last two years the criminal law workload of the court has increased by approximately 10%.  During the same period there has been a rise in the number of child protection cases in the city of Thunder Bay and a corresponding impact on workload.

As of December 31, 2009, 10 judges and 19 justices of the peace presided over criminal, family, and youth justice cases at four base court locations in Thunder Bay (the main urban centre for the eastern part of the region), Fort Frances, Kenora, and Dryden. The region is regularly assisted by the work of two  per diem judges and five per diem justices of the peace. Thirty-six satellite courts are located throughout the region. This means that judges and justices of the peace must routinely drive and fly great distances to provide regular access to the courts.

In the Northwest Region, the flow of criminal charges (including Criminal Code, youth, and federal offences), family proceedings, and provincial offences charges in the Ontario Court of Justice in 2008 and 2009 is summarized below.

In 2008 the number of criminal charges received was 21,678, an increase of 6.7% from the previous year. The number of criminal charges disposed the same year was 16,339, 19.5% less than the  previous year. At the end of the year the total number of active criminal charges pending was 7,155, a .7% increase from the end of the previous year. In 2009 the number of criminal charges received was 22,856, an increase of 5.4% from the previous year. The number of criminal charges disposed the same year was 17,456, 6.8% more than the previous year. At the end of the year the total number of active criminal charges pending was 6,946, a 3.0% decrease from the end of the previous year.

In 2008 there were 1,907 family proceedings received and 1,698 disposed, and there were 2,305 active family proceedings pending at the end of the year. In 2009 there were 1,803 family proceedings received, a decrease of 5.5% from the previous year. There were 1,648 disposed, 2.9% less than the previous year. At the end of the year there were 2,447 active family proceedings pending, 6.2% more than the end of the previous year.

In 2008 the number of provincial offences charges laid was 40,920, a decrease of 7.43% over the  previous year. While the set fines for many  provincial offences are simply paid, requiring no involvement of the court, in 2008 the court dealt with and disposed of 41,114 provincial offences charges, a decrease of 7.27% over the previous year. In 2009 the number of provincial offences charges laid was 43,704, an increase of 6.8% over 2008.  In 2009 the court dealt with and disposed of 42,928 provincial offences charges, an increase of 4.4% over 2008.

Courts in the Northwest Region actively encourage the use of video and telephone conferencing  technology to enhance access to justice. Lawyers will participate in settlement conferences and date-setting remands by telephone. Parties may participate in court proceedings by video  conference, and occasionally such technology will be used to permit one remote community to  participate in a court proceeding held in another community, usually a base court.

The Ontario Court of Justice in this region serves over 60 Aboriginal territories as well as Aboriginal persons who live in cities or towns. Interwoven throughout the judicial process is a recognition of and sensitivity to Aboriginal social and cultural realities, while the Court recognizes the need to apply the law equally to all. The integration of local community liaison committees, alternative dispute resolution programs, and sentencing circles, and the involvement of community elders in the trial process, all help to foster restorative justice in appropriate cases.

Toronto

The Toronto Region of the Ontario Court of Justice is the only region of the Court to contain just one municipality, the City of Toronto, the province’s largest urban centre with a population of 2.5  million. There are seven courthouses with a total of over 80 courtrooms. As of December 31, 2009, 82 full-time judges and 94 justices of the peace, regularly assisted by twelve per diem judges and five per diem justices of the peace, presided over criminal, youth and federal prosecutions, family law cases, and provincial offences proceedings.

Changes in the caseload of criminal charges (including Criminal Code, youth, drug and other federal offences), family proceedings, and provincial offences charges in the Toronto Region since the last biennial report are summarized below.

In 2009 the number of criminal charges received was 141,654, a decrease of 3.5% from 2007. The number of criminal charges disposed the same year was 136,910, a decrease of 1.2% from 2007.  At the end of 2009 the total number of active criminal charges pending was 82,147, a 0.7% decrease from the end of 2007.

In 2009 there were 7,323 family proceedings received, a decrease of 6.2% from 2007. There were 6,915 matters disposed, 5.1% less than 2007. At the end of the year there were 7,962 active family proceedings pending, 22.2% more than at the end of 2007.

In 2009 the number of provincial offences charges laid was 728,085, an increase of 4.5% from 2007.  In 2009 the court dealt with and disposed of 744,349 provincial offences charges, an increase of 14.76% over 2007.

Toronto Region is also home to a number of specialized courts: a Mental Health Court, which deals with individuals charged with criminal offences who suffer from mental illness; an Aboriginal Persons (Gladue) Court, which hears criminal matters involving Aboriginal people; a Child Witness Court where special accommodations are available to assist children giving evidence; a Drug Treatment Court, which deals with non-violent drug addicts who come before the court on a regular basis; and a Domestic Violence Court, which deals with criminal matters involving allegations of domestic abuse.

A number of facility renovations were completed within the region during 2008 and 2009.  Renovations to the Toronto East courthouse were completed in April 2008 resulting in additional cell space and courtrooms.  In 2009, renovations at the Old City Hall courthouse included the  relocation of the Centre for Judicial Research and Education, the creation of an additional courtroom and the completion of a major renovation to the bail court.

West

The West Region of the Ontario Court of Justice extends from Guelph in the east to Windsor in  the west and to Georgian Bay in the north. It is comprised of ten counties and two regional  municipalities, including ten Aboriginal communities, and has a total population of approximately 2.2 million. Kitchener-Waterloo, London, and Windsor are the major urban centres, and the West Region is home to two of the busiest border crossings in Canada-Windsor and Sarnia.

The region has 15 base court locations in the  counties’ major urban centres and 4 satellite courts. Courts in the West Region hear all criminal and family matters within the Court’s jurisdiction, with the exception of London, where the Family Court Branch of the Superior Court of Justice has jurisdiction over all family law matters. As of December 31, 2009, the West Region had a full-time complement of 44 judges and 47 justices of the peace. The region is regularly assisted by the work of six per diem judges and four per diem justices of the peace.

In the West Region, the flow  of criminal charges (including Criminal Code, youth, and federal offences), family proceedings, and provincial offences charges in the Ontario Court of Justice in 2008 and 2009 is summarized below.

In 2008 the number of criminal charges received was 104,568, an increase of 1.1% from the previous year. The number of criminal charges disposed the same year was 102,121, which was the same as the previous year. At the end of the year the total number of active criminal charges pending was 41,161, a 7.8% increase from the end of the previous year. In 2009 the number of criminal charges received was 102,454, a decrease of 2.0% from the previous year. The number of criminal charges disposed the same year was 102,174, 0.1% more than the previous year. At the end of the year the total number of active criminal charges pending was 41,117, a 0.1% decrease from the end of the previous year.

In 2008 there were 6,685 family proceedings received and 6,009 disposed, and there were 5,903 active family proceedings pending at the end of the year. In 2009 there were 7,216 family proceedings received, an increase of 7.9% from the previous year. There were 6,283 disposed, 4.6% more than the previous year. At the end of the year there were 6,769 active family proceedings pending, which was 14.7% more than the end of the previous year.

In 2008 the number of provincial offences charges received was 290,841, an increase of 1.8% over the previous year.  In 2008 provincial offences charges disposed were 292,954, an increase of 5.2% over the previous year. In 2009 the number of provincial offences charges received was 283,380, a decrease of 2.6% from 2008. In 2009 charges disposed were 281,717, a decrease of 3.8% from the  previous year.

Two weekend and statutory holiday (WASH) courts are scheduled in London on each day of weekends and statutory holidays. In 2008, a Gladue Court was commenced in Sarnia. In 2009, London added a weekly Youth Therapeutic Court, in addition to the weekly mental health court for adults, already established.

Section 3

Judges of the  Ontario Court of Justice

Complement

The Ontario Court of Justice currently has a funded complement of 284 full-time judges, including the Chief Justice and the Associate Chief Justices. In the course of any year and over differing periods of time, the number of judges actually available to preside in Court fluctuates as a result of vacancies, illness, vacations and leave.

In addition to the full-time judges of the Court, there are part-time, or per diem, judges. These are judges of the Court who have elected to sit on a part-time basis. The number of per diem judges  varies widely from year to year and from location to location and also has an impact on the actual number of judges sitting at any point in time. Per diem judges are typically assigned in cases of a vacancy or of the illness of a full-time judge and are also used extensively in dealing with backlog-reduction initiatives and special projects. The mandatory retirement age for judges of the Ontario Court of Justice is 75 years. Since September 2000, the assignment of per diem judges has largely been the responsibility of the regional senior judge, subject to the overall supervision of the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace.

A full list of the judges of the Court as of  December 31, 2009, including details of their dates of appointment and status as a full-time or per diem judge, appears in Appendix 2.

A list of the judges who fully retired or left the Court during 2008 and 2009 appears in Appendix 3.

In Memoriam

The Court honours the memory of three of  its judges.

The Honourable Hubert Campbell passed away on August 6, 2008. Justice Campbell presided in Oshawa in the Central East Region.

The Honourable Patrick White passed away on December 11, 2008. Justice White presided in Ottawa in the East Region.

Former regional senior judge (West Region), the Honourable Alexander Graham passed away on April 10, 2009. Justice Graham presided in Woodstock in the West Region.

Local Administrative Judges

The Courts of Justice Act gives to a regional senior judge the discretion to delegate the authority to exercise specific administrative functions to a judge of the Court in that region. Although no legislative guidelines are in place to govern this delegation of authority, the Chief Justice’s Executive Committee has formulated policy guidelines for this role.

The judge to whom this authority is delegated is called the local administrative judge, and he or she is appointed by the regional senior judge, in consultation with the Chief Justice. The term of office and the appropriate delegation of authority are determined by the regional senior judge in each case.

A local administrative judge may be assigned  specific duties such as:

  • assigning and scheduling trials and judicial resources for the local court location(s);
  • acting as a liaison between the local judges and the regional senior judge regarding scheduling issues or the assignment of cases;
  • assessing local judicial needs, and, if per diem assistance is required, advising the regional senior judge;
  • acting as the representative of the regional senior judge when dealing with other local judges, officials of the Ministry of the Attorney General, other ministries, the Bar, police  services, or the public;
  • advising the regional senior judge of issues  of local concern; and
  • establishing or participating in local court  liaison committees to address local issues where required, either on a permanent or ad hoc basis.

Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee (JAAC)

In 1989, Attorney General Ian Scott created the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee (JAAC) as a pilot project to recommend candidates for appointment as judges to the provincial court of Ontario. The appointment process was formalized and the Committee made permanent by virtue of amendments to the Courts of Justice Act in 1995. The Act now provides for a Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee composed of 13 members: three judges (one of whom is appointed by the Ontario Judicial Council), three lawyers (each one appointed by an independent law association), and seven persons, neither judges nor lawyers, appointed by the Attorney General. The dominance of lay members (seven of the 13 members of the Committee) was intended to remove the opportunity for political interference and to increase both public involvement and public confidence in the process.

Each judicial vacancy is advertised province-wide when it arises and is open to any lawyer with a minimum of ten years at the Bar. Members of JAAC review each application and conduct a broad consultation to determine which candidates are to be interviewed. Criteria for selection have been developed by the Committee and include professional achievement and excellence, respect, integrity, patience, fairness, sensitivity to social values, and a commitment to public service. Once the Committee identifies candidates for potential interviews, a more detailed series of  “discrete inquiries” is conducted for each candidate.

For each vacancy, the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee conducts a number of interviews. Upon completion of the interviews, the Committee prepares a short, ranked list of recommended candidates (at least two names) that is sent to the Attorney General. Only candidates who are on the Committee’s short list can be appointed to the Court. The Attorney General may request a new list if he or she is not satisfied with the names on the list, but this rarely occurs.

The net result of the changes originally introduced in 1989 has been the creation of an appointment process for judges of the Ontario Court of Justice that has received wide public support and has come to be seen as the Canadian model of a  transparent, independent, and objective process of judicial appointment. As of December 31, 2009, approximately 94% of the judges of the Court have been appointed through the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee process.

Further information concerning the structure, composition, policies, and procedures of the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee can be found at http://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/jaac/.

Ontario Conference of Judges

The Ontario Conference of Judges (the Conference) is the professional association that represents the judges of the Ontario Court of Justice. The members of the board of directors of the Conference are drawn from each region of Ontario and include both family and criminal law judges, thus providing for a broad representation throughout the province.

The main objectives of the Conference are:

  • to preserve the highest standards of  professionalism among its members;
  • to promote and enhance respect for the administration of justice in Ontario;
  • to promote uniformity in court procedures  in Ontario to the greatest extent possible;
  • to discuss and study existing law, and recommend to the appropriate authorities such amendments as may be considered proper;
  • to represent and advocate on behalf of its members on matters of conditions of service and administration;
  • to promote and enhance collegiality among  all members of the bench; and
  • to promote and maintain a healthy and mutually respectful relationship with the Office of the Chief Justice and with the executive branch of government.

The Conference is also dedicated to the preservation and promotion of judicial expertise in the law through continuing judicial education for its members. The Conference is mandated through its constitution to preserve the highest standards of education for its members and, in this regard, recognizes its shared responsibility for education with the Chief Justice. In keeping with this mandate and in cooperation with the Office of the Chief Justice, the Education Secretariat, and the National Judicial Institute, the Conference organizes educational programming throughout the year at various venues across the province. These programs provide the opportunity for judges to meet, exchange ideas, foster collegiality, and keep up with new developments in the law.

In recognition of their shared responsibilities, particularly in the area of judicial education, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in 1994 between the Ontario Conference of Judges and the Chief Judge. The MOU has been revised as needed to reflect their mutually respectful relationship.

The Conference relies on the assistance of many volunteer members who, in addition to fulfilling their judicial duties, work enthusiastically to make the Conference an effective vehicle for the enhancement of justice in Ontario.

Judicial Conduct

The Courts of Justice Act 1994 authorized the chief judge to establish “standards of conduct for  provincial judges.”

In that context, Chief Judge Sidney B. Linden created a Judicial Conduct Subcommittee that prepared a document titled Principles of Judicial Office in consultation with the judges’ associations and judges of the Court.

The Ontario Judicial Council adopted the Principles of Judicial Office in 1997 as the standard to govern judicial conduct and ethics in Ontario.

Subsequently, in 1998, the Canadian Judicial Council (which investigates complaints of alleged misconduct involving federally appointed judges) published Ethical Principles for Judges as an ethical frame of reference for the Canadian judiciary. Upon the recommendation of the Ontario Conference of Judges and of the Chief Justice’s Executive Committee, Ethical Principles for Judges was approved by the Ontario Judicial Council and adopted by the Ontario Court of Justice in early 2005, and now also forms part of the ethical standards for judges of the Ontario Court of Justice. Ethical Principles for Judges can be found at www.cjc-ccm.gc.ca/cmslib/general/news_pub_judicialconduct_Principles_en.pdf.

In order to assist judges in dealing with ethical questions, the Ontario Court of Justice created the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee in 2003 to provide confidential advice to judges and justices of the peace on potential ethical issues.

Further information on the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee can be found in Section 2.

ONTARIO COURT OF JUSTICE

Principles of Judicial Office

Preamble

A strong and independent judiciary is indispensable to the proper administration of justice in our society. Judges must be free to perform their judicial duties without fear of reprisal or influence from any person, group, institution, or level of government. In turn, society has a right to expect those appointed as judges to be honourable and worthy of its trust and confidence.

The judges of the Ontario Court of Justice recognize their duty to establish, maintain, encourage, and uphold high standards of personal conduct and professionalism so as to preserve the independence and integrity of their judicial office and to preserve the faith and trust that society places in the men and women who have agreed to accept  the responsibilities of judicial office. The following principles of judicial office are established by the judges of the Ontario Court of Justice and set out standards  of excellence and integrity to which all judges subscribe.

These principles are not exhaustive. They are designed to be advisory in nature and are not directly related to any specific  disciplinary process. Intended to assist judges in addressing ethical and professional dilemmas, they may also serve in assisting the public to understand the reasonable expectations that the public may have of judges in the performance of judicial duties and in the conduct of judges’  personal lives.

The Judge in Court

1.1       Judges must be impartial and objective in the discharge of  their judicial duties.

COMMENTARIES:

Judges should not be influenced by partisan interests, public pressure, or fear of criticism. Judges should maintain their objectivity and shall not, by words or conduct, manifest favour, bias, or prejudice toward any party or interest.

1.2       Judges have a duty to follow  the law.

COMMENTARIES:

Judges have a duty to apply the relevant law to the facts and  circumstances of the cases before  the court and to render justice within the framework of the law.

1.3       Judges will endeavour to maintain order and decorum in court.

COMMENTARIES:

Judges must strive to be patient,  dignified, and courteous in  performing the duties of judicial office and shall carry out their  role with integrity, appropriate  firmness, and honour.

The Judge and the Court

2.1       Judges should approach their judicial duties in a spirit of  collegiality, cooperation, and mutual assistance.

2.2       Judges should conduct court business with due diligence and dispose of all matters before them promptly and efficiently, having regard, at all times, for the interests of justice and the rights of the parties before the court.

2.3       Reasons for judgment should be delivered in a timely manner.

2.4       Judges have a duty to maintain their professional competence  in the law.

COMMENTARIES:

Judges should attend and  participate in continuing legal  and general education programs.

2.5       The primary responsibility of judges is the discharge of their judicial duties.

COMMENTARIES:

Subject to applicable legislation, judges may participate in law-related activities such as teaching, participating in educational  conferences, and writing and  working on committees for the advancement of judicial interests and concerns, provided such  activities do not interfere with the judge’s primary duty to the court.

The Judge in the Community

3.1       Judges should maintain their  personal conduct at a level that will ensure the public’s trust  and confidence.

3.2       Judges must avoid any conflict  of interest, or the appearance of any conflict of interest, in the  performance of their judicial duties.

COMMENTARIES:

Judges must not participate in any partisan political activity. Judges must not contribute financially to any political party.

3.3       Judges must not abuse the  power of their judicial office  or use it inappropriately.

3.4       Judges are encouraged to be involved in community activities, provided such involvement is  not incompatible with their  judicial office.

COMMENTARIES:

Judges should not lend the prestige of their office to fundraising activities.

Ontario Judicial Council

The Ontario Judicial Council was created by amendments to the Courts of Justice Act, which came into effect on February 28, 1995. Although it has other functions, the Council’s main role is to investigate complaints of alleged misconduct made against provincially appointed judges or against provincially appointed masters.

The Ontario Judicial Council consists of 12 members:

  • the Chief Justice of Ontario (who is a co-chair);
  • the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice (who is also a co-chair);
  • the Associate Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice;
  • a Regional Senior Justice (appointed by  the Lieutenant Governor in Council on the  recommendation of the Attorney General);
  • two additional provincial judges (appointed  by the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court  of Justice);
  • the Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada (or his or her designate)
  • a lawyer (appointed by the Law Society); and,
  • four persons, neither judges nor lawyers, who are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Attorney General.

Any person may make a complaint to the Council about the conduct of a judge. The complaint must be made in writing. The Council does not have the authority to review decisions by judges. If a person is unhappy with a decision of a judge, the proper way to proceed is through other legal remedies.

All complaints of alleged judicial misconduct are investigated by a two-person subcommittee of the Council. The subcommittee provides a report to a separate four-person review panel that does not know the name of the complainant or of the judge. The review panel may dismiss a complaint that is unfounded, refer it to the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, or order that a hearing be held into the alleged misconduct. Where a hearing is ordered, the hearing will be chaired by the Chief Justice of Ontario or by another judge of the Ontario Court of Appeal. The hearing will be held in public unless exceptional circumstances require otherwise. If the hearing panel concludes that there has been judicial misconduct, it has the authority to impose a variety of sanctions, ranging from a warning or reprimand, to a suspension, to a recommendation to the Attorney General that the judge be removed from office.

There are relatively few complaints received by the Ontario Judicial Council. Since the establishment of the Council, the number of complaints has ranged from 23 to 77 complaints per year. The Council makes an annual report to the Attorney General that includes a summary of complaints received or dealt with during the year.

Further information concerning the Ontario Judicial Council, including the annual report, can be found at http://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/ojc/annual-report/.

Section 4

Criminal Law

Criminal Law Jurisdiction of the Ontario Court of Justice

The Ontario Court of Justice has extensive jurisdiction over criminal matters in Ontario. All charges under the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, those that proceed against young people pursuant to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and most others that arise from federal statutes are laid in the Ontario Court of Justice, and well over 95% of them are disposed of in the Ontario Court of Justice. Moreover, virtually all quasi-criminal charges arising from provincial statutes that require any adjudication are dealt with in the Ontario Court of Justice.

Criminal Code and Other Federal Statutes

Most criminal offences are found in the Criminal Code of Canada, with the most frequent exception being drug offences, which are found in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The Court also has jurisdiction to deal with offences that fall under other federal statutes and regulations, such as the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

The Criminal Code is also the primary statute that governs criminal procedure.

Criminal charges are laid by the police, and a preliminary decision is made by the police according to the provisions of the Criminal Code to either release the accused to attend court or detain the accused and bring them before the Ontario Court of Justice. For those accused detained by the police, for almost all criminal offences, the issue of bail is determined in the Ontario Court of Justice before justices of the peace. In only the most serious cases, such as murder, bail is  determined in the Superior Court of Justice.

Once bail, also known as judicial interim release or detention, has been determined, criminal offences proceed either by summary conviction or by indictment. Most offences proceed by summary conviction, at the election of the Crown.

Offences that proceed by summary conviction fall under the jurisdiction of the Ontario Court of Justice, and if they proceed to trial, that trial takes place before a single judge of the Ontario Court  of Justice. There are no juries in the Ontario Court of Justice.

For offences that proceed by indictment, the accused may elect to have a trial with a single judge in the Ontario Court of Justice, or the accused may elect to have a preliminary inquiry in the Ontario Court of Justice. At a preliminary inquiry, also known as a preliminary hearing, a single judge of the Ontario Court of Justice must determine if there is sufficient evidence to commit the accused to trial in the Superior Court of Justice. If there is not, the accused must be discharged. If there is sufficient evidence, the accused is then committed to trial in the Superior Court of Justice, where he or she may have a trial with a jury or by judge alone.

Also, in criminal matters, justices of the peace receive applications made by the police for a variety of search and arrest warrants under the Criminal Code. In such cases, the justices of the peace, as independent judicial officials, must determine whether there are adequate and lawful grounds before issuing such warrants. The authority to issue certain other warrants, like DNA warrants, is restricted to the judges of the Court.

Youth Criminal Justice Act

When a person under the age of 18 but 12 years or older is alleged to have committed a criminal offence, whether under the Criminal Code or some other federal statute, the proceeding is governed by the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). The YCJA, which came into force on April 1, 2003, replaced the Young Offenders Act, which had been enacted in 1982. The Young Offenders Act replaced the Juvenile Delinquents Act, which was enacted in 1908 and was the first federal statute to deal specifically with criminal acts committed by young persons.

While the offences for which young persons can be charged arise from the Criminal Code and other federal statutes, it is primarily the YCJA that governs the procedures, including specific principles and factors that apply to the adjudication of criminal matters for young people. The Ontario Court of Justice has jurisdiction to adjudicate almost all matters involving young persons that proceed  pursuant to the YCJA. It is only in rare cases (see s. 67(1) of the YCJA) that a young person could proceed to Superior Court for a trial.

Provincial Offences

The Ontario Court of Justice has jurisdiction over all quasi-criminal prosecutions of offences arising out of Ontario’s provincial statutes, which are  conducted under the Provincial Offences Act. The vast majority of these charges arise from the Highway Traffic Act, the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act, and municipal bylaws (including parking infractions). Almost all of these matters that require adjudication appear before justices of the peace in the Ontario Court of Justice. However, many significant offences that arise out of other provincial statutes, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Environmental Protection Act, also come before the Ontario Court of Justice. Judges of the Court may be assigned to hear these matters when circumstances require. Judges of the Ontario Court of Justice have the responsibility to hear and determine appeals under the Provincial Offences Act from decisions made by justices of the peace.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter) sets out the rights and freedoms that are guaranteed in our free and democratic society. The Charter provides that the courts are to be the guarantors of those rights and freedoms, and authorizes the courts to provide remedies in cases where Charter-protected rights or freedoms are violated. In criminal and quasi-criminal trial proceedings, the Ontario Court of Justice has jurisdiction under the Charter to grant a wide range of remedies for violations of the Charter, including, among others, the exclusion of evidence or a stay of proceedings. Although Charter issues can arise in other legal proceedings, they are raised most frequently in criminal cases.

Criminal Case Flow

The following chart depicts the basic flow of charges through the Ontario Court of Justice. There are many procedural intricacies that are not reflected in the chart. For example, some  complicated pre-trial and trial procedures exist in relation to dealing with accused who are suffering from mental disorders such that their fitness to stand trial or their criminal responsibility is in issue. Nevertheless the chart shows the typical flow of charges and reflects the proportion of charges that resolve at the pre-trial stage and the trial stage, and the relatively small proportion that proceed to a trial or to the Superior Court after a preliminary inquiry.

As the chart depicts, criminal charges are laid by the police in Ontario. It is their determination, based on the individual case and the provisions of the Criminal Code, which accused they release to appear in court and which accused they detain and bring to bail courts. In 60% of the charges laid by the police, the accused are detained by the police and brought to bail courts. Most cases are dealt with expeditiously in bail courts, and the accused are either released on a form of bail or detained pending the final disposition of their charges. Generally, when accused are detained, their  matters are expedited by the Courts as much as reasonably possible.

Once those accused that have been brought to bail courts have been released or detained, their charges proceed to pre-trial courts. Accused who were released by the police to attend court are also required to appear. During the pre-trial steps, a number of things happen:

  • the Crown will provide the accused with complete disclosure of the case against them;
  • those accused that are unable to afford counsel can apply for legal aid;
  • accused or their counsel can engage in pre-trial discussions with the Crown, when they may discuss the possible resolution of their cases; and, in appropriate cases,
  • a judicial pre-trial conference can take place in which, typically, the Crown, defence counsel, and a judge can discuss the possible resolution of a case or procedural issues, including an estimate of time that needs to be set for a trial.

Most of the routine appearances during this  process are presided over by justices of the peace, with the exception of judicial pre-trial conferences, guilty pleas, and sentencing hearings, which  are presided over and adjudicated by judges of  the Court.

As depicted in the chart, it has generally been the case that three-quarters of all charges laid are resolved at the pre-trial stage without a trial date being set. Most of these cases are resolved by way of some combination of guilty pleas and withdrawals. The remaining cases, accounting for about a quarter of all charges laid, proceed to trial dates set in trial courts presided over by the judges of the Court.

In the trial courts, criminal matters are scheduled either as trials or preliminary inquiries. Depending on the matters, they may be scheduled for relatively short periods of time, estimated in hours of a day, or longer periods that may be estimated for several days or weeks, or occasionally, for months. On the trial or preliminary inquiry dates, accused may resolve their cases, or cases sometimes cannot proceed. Of the charges that do proceed to the trial courts to be heard, approximately two-thirds of them do not have trials or preliminary inquiries but are resolved otherwise, often by way of guilty pleas by the accused and withdrawals by the Crown. For this reason, scheduling of trial courts is often a very unpredictable and difficult task. In most places in the province, this is done by trial coordinators, who do so under the direction of their local administrative judges. Constitutionally and pursuant to the Courts of Justice Act, scheduling of cases is under the exclusive control of the judiciary. This is a cornerstone of judicial independence.

The remaining charges, approximately 8% of the total laid, proceed to trial (5%) or preliminary inquiries (3%) and are generally resolved by findings of guilt or acquittals in the case of trials, or by committals to the Superior Court of Justice for trial or discharges in the case of preliminary inquiries.

Specialized Courts

The Ontario Court of Justice is primarily comprised of courts functioning in the traditional manner, focused on arriving at findings based on the application of the law to the evidence and making decisions in a fair and expeditious manner. However, some courts within the Ontario Court of Justice have been developed with different  orientations or accommodations to suit the needs of particular kinds of cases, accused, or witnesses. These courts are intended to offer a broad range  of programs or supports to assist accused or  witnesses in the criminal process.

Mental Health Courts

In May 1998, the first Mental Health Court in Canada opened at the Old City Hall courthouse in Toronto. Mental Health Courts accommodate the special needs of mentally ill persons who come before the courts, often repeatedly, and are  frequently charged with minor criminal offences. They aim to deal expeditiously with issues of  fitness to stand trial and, wherever possible, to slow down “the revolving door” of repeated returns to court by making full use of resources, including diversion programs.

Various mental health and legal professionals are involved in these courts. For example, in Toronto, three mental health social workers, one Crown counsel, and one duty counsel work with the court. A psychiatrist attends the court daily to conduct psychiatric assessments of people who in the past would have been remanded into custody for several days for this purpose. When an accused is discharged into the community, the Mental Health Court assures that the accused is provided with basic information and contacts to ensure access to  identification, housing information, community psychiatric follow-up, social assistance, and clothing. An estimated 2,000 to 3,000 accused persons pass through the Mental Health Court in Toronto each year.

Soon after the establishment of the court in Toronto, a mental health court was established in Brampton. In 2005 Kitchener opened a mental health court, followed in 2007 by similar courts in Ottawa, London, and Windsor. Now many Ontario Court of Justice locations have developed special procedures for this vulnerable population.

Drug Treatment Courts

In December 1998, the Toronto Drug Treatment Court was established at the Old City Hall courthouse. The court was created after discussions among the Ontario Court of Justice, the federal Department of Justice, the Ministry of the Attorney General, the Bar, and community participants. The intent was to deal with non-violent, drug-dependent offenders in a way that would be more effective and provide greater protection to the public in the long term than the traditional court process.

Accused persons who are charged with possession or trafficking small quantities of illegal substances and/or with minor property-related crimes may be admitted to the Drug Treatment Court where, under judicial supervision, they are provided with the supports necessary to break their drug dependencies and to reintegrate fully into the community. If they make positive lifestyle changes, are employed  or attending school, have stable housing, and  ultimately refrain from using illegal drugs, they are eligible to graduate from the Drug Treatment Court program. Then the sentence will reflect the positive efforts and lifestyle changes achieved by the offender. Failure to make such changes may result in the offender’s expulsion from the program and the imposition of a criminal sentence in the normal course.

Recognizing the success of the program in Toronto, the federal government undertook to fund five additional Drug Treatment Courts across Canada including one that was established in Ottawa in 2006. Some other communities, like Durham, have developed similar programs without federal funding.

Child-Friendly Courts

In a number of courts throughout the province, courtrooms have been designed as child-friendly environments to accommodate child and adolescent witnesses or persons who may be developmentally delayed or exceptionally vulnerable. These courts frequently make use of video equipment and  provide a non-threatening atmosphere where  witnesses can be better accommodated than in  the traditional courtroom environment.

Domestic Violence Courts

Domestic Violence Courts hear criminal matters regarding allegations of domestic violence and abuse. Specialized Domestic Violence Courts have been established at different locations throughout the province to provide specialized services and resources that are needed to deal with situations of alleged domestic violence.

Aboriginal Persons (Gladue) Courts

In regions with large Aboriginal populations, the Ontario Court of Justice has for years operated in a manner that recognizes the unique cultural heritage and needs of those communities. In 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada, in the decision R. v. Gladue, established criteria for the application of paragraph 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code in the  sentencing of Aboriginal offenders. The Court  recognized and underlined the need for sensitivity to the particular needs of Canada’s Aboriginal communities within the court system. It recognized that courts and Aboriginal communities must work to design and administer a judicial process equipped to apply the Gladue guidelines.

In the Northeast and Northwest Regions of Ontario where there are significant Aboriginal populations, Aboriginal peoples have been and continue to be actively involved in the judicial process. Judges,  justices of the peace (many of them Aboriginal), lawyers, and court staff work with the Aboriginal accused and their communities. In appropriate cases, community elders, community justice  committees, community accountability conferencing, sentencing circles, alternative dispute resolution programs, and victims are part of the process leading to the appropriate resolution of charges.

There are over 80,000 Aboriginal persons living in the Greater Toronto Area. In 2001, an Aboriginal Persons (Gladue) Court was established in Toronto Region at the Old City Hall courthouse. The court was established as a result of discussions between the judges of the Ontario Court of Justice, Legal Aid Duty Counsel, the Crown Attorney’s Office, and the Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto. There are now three such courts in Toronto with 15 judges who have attended specialized education programs to preside in these courts. The Gladue court takes into account the particular circumstances of Aboriginal accused and takes a restorative approach to sentencing in the event of conviction.

Criminal Law Workload

The Ontario Court of Justice deals with a large number of criminal cases each year, significant both in their numbers and in the importance of their subject matter.

Composition of Charges Received

As depicted below, in 2008 and 2009 the Court received an average of approximately 600,000 charges. The number and proportion of adult Criminal Code charges, adult federal charges  (primarily made up of drug offences), and all charges laid against youth (aged 12 to 17) fluctuated little between 2008 and 2009. As indicated in the pie charts on page 45, adult Criminal Code charges continue to make up a little more than three- quarters of all the charges received, charges laid against youth make up around 13%–14% of all charges received, and adult federal charges approximately 9%.

All charges received in the Ontario Court of Justice are categorized for statistical purposes according to 31 offence types as defined by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. As depicted on the  following page, there is a wide dispersion and a varied proportion of charges received into the  different types of offences. The proportions changed very little between 2008 and 2009.

Charges Received, Disposed, and Pending

The Ontario Court of Justice is constantly dealing with a large number of cases. Often referred to as the Court’s “inventory” of cases, these reflect the Court’s workload. In simple terms, the receipt of new charges increases the Court’s inventory, while the disposition of charges decreases that inventory. Backlogs develop when the number of charges in the inventory builds up and cannot be dealt with within a reasonable period of time.

The number of charges received in 2008 increased marginally from 2007 but decreased in 2009. In 2008 and 2009, the number of charges that were disposed was less than the number received for the year but the difference was smaller in 2009. The number of charges pending, reflecting the inventory of cases, was up at the end of 2008  as compared to the end of 2007, but decreased  in 2009.

As mentioned earlier and depicted following for 2007, 2008, and 2009, the majority of criminal charges (including Criminal Code, federal, and youth charges) are in fact resolved prior to setting trial dates, and of those that set a trial date, the majority are resolved without trial. It is only a  relatively small proportion of charges that proceed to trial. These proportions are important to the operation of the courts, as a relatively small  fluctuation in them can have a dramatic impact on the number of matters that have trials, which is the most time-consuming and costly part of the process. The number and proportion of charges that were resolved prior to trial in 2008 and 2009 has continued to increase. Correspondingly, there has been a decrease in matters that went to trial and matters that had a trial over that same period.

Time and Appearances to Disposition

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms requires that criminal charges be heard and disposed of by the Court within a reasonable period of time. The average number of days required before charges are disposed is an indicator of whether the Court has sufficient judicial resources to process cases in a timely manner. Likewise, the average number of appearances that matters have before the courts is an indicator of the increased activity that the courts must handle while cases are processed through them. The amount of time for charges to proceed through the courts decreased slightly in 2008 and then increased in 2009. Conversely the amount of activity for charges to proceed through the courts (number of appearances) increased in 2008 and slightly decreased in 2009.

Delay-Reduction Initiatives

Delay-Reduction Committee

In 1999, at the suggestion of the Court, a Delay Reduction Committee was created that included the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, the Associate Chief Justice, the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace, the Deputy Attorney General, the Assistant Deputy Attorney General-Criminal Law Division, and the Assistant Deputy Attorney General-Court Services Division. This backlog-reduction initiative was designed to:

  • reduce backlog where possible by using short-term additional resources and by making any necessary adjustments to the system; and
  • identify those court locations that need more significant and permanent changes.

In 2002, as a result of the Committee’s preliminary work in identifying the court locations experiencing the greatest difficulties with backlogs and delay, four additional judges were appointed to the Court and the Court was given additional funding for the equivalent of two per diem judges, full-time, to be used exclusively to reduce backlog.

Since April 2002, these resources have been  used in Barrie, Brampton, Chatham, Cornwall, Etobicoke, Guelph, Halton, Newmarket, North York, Orangeville, Oshawa, Ottawa, Peterborough/Lindsay/ Cobourg, Scarborough, Toronto, and Windsor. The short-term application of these resources has assisted in correcting temporary pressures in some sites. In addition to the targeted backlog-reduction programs, the Court also continues to assign a significant portion of its per diem resources to reduce backlogs at smaller court locations.

Overall, the provincial aggregate proportion of charges pending over eight months and the provincial aggregate trial rate has remained relatively stable over the last several years. This supports the  continued availability and effort to deploy extra temporary resources to those locations that experience temporary upward fluctuations in trial rates or charges pending over eight months. However, in some locations pressures are steadily increasing, and short-term infusions of resources only temporarily stem the tide. Longer-term or permanent resources may be needed to alleviate chronic delays that could become intolerable.

Annual Justice Summit

The Deputy Attorney General convened a Justice Summit in 2002 to bring together key stakeholders within the justice system to address delays in child protection cases and criminal cases. There have been annual Justice Summits since that time.

The summits continue to be an important forum for justice sector participants to define the issues and the opportunities for further improvements in the criminal justice system and to share information about new justice initiatives such as the reform of Civil Rules or Justice on Target.

Committees

Local Court Management Committees

Local Court Management Committees are located at base courts of the Ontario Court of Justice throughout the province. The actual title of each committee may vary. In some locations, the  committee is called the Local Bench and Bar Liaison Committee, while in others it is called the Local Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee, the Court Liaison Committee, the Judicial Administration Committee, or some other name.

With some local variations, committee members may include other members of the local judiciary; representatives of the Crown Attorney’s offices; members of the Defence Bar; and representatives of Police Services, Probation and Parole Services, Courts’ Services, and Legal Aid. These committees or groups with similar membership are actively engaged in working collaboratively to improve the administration of justice. In recent years they have been engaged in responding to the challenges of the Justice on Target project described below.

The committees discuss issues relating to the operation of the local court and have proven to be quite effective in resolving systemic problems. They also serve as consultative bodies for matters of interest to the local justice system users.

Criminal Law Developments:  2008-2009

Justice on Target

In June of 2008, the Ministry of the Attorney General launched the Justice on Target strategy. Justice on Target is a province-wide initiative to reduce delay in the Ontario Court of Justice. It  targets a 30% reduction in the number of days and appearances required to complete a criminal case by June 20102.

An Expert Advisory Panel was struck by the  government so that justice participants could  provide advice in their field of expertise to help the Justice on Target strategy leaders and their team meet the targets. The Honourable Peter D. Griffiths, Associate Chief Justice is the Ontario Court of Justice member on the panel.

The Justice on Target strategy is unfolding at the local level, in individual court locations. Judges and justices of the peace have been engaged with other justice sector participants to identify new solutions to the pressing issues of delay.

Ontario Court of Justice Criminal Rules Committee

In September 2009, the Chief Justice requested that the Court conduct a review of the Criminal Rules of Practice. The last time the Ontario Court of Justice undertook a major review and revision of the Court’s Criminal Rules was in the 1990s’.

The review includes, but is not limited to consideration of the following:

  • simplified language;
  • accessibility of the Rules to the unrepresented;
  • applicability of the Rules to paralegals; and
  • any lessons learned from Justice on Target that can be included in the Rules.

The committee will be consulting widely with all members of the justice community in addition to the Ontario Court of Justice.

Criminal-Family Intersection Working Group

The Ontario Court of Justice began discussions with other justice participants in 2008 to develop protocols that would assist with the intersection of family and criminal matters. Subcommittees have examined various issues including order-sharing between the criminal and the family courts and the establishment of an integrated domestic  violence court pilot project.

Section 5

Family Law

Family Law Jurisdiction in Ontario

Family law cases are heard at three different types of court in Ontario: the Ontario Court of Justice; the Superior Court of Justice; or the Superior Court of Justice, Family Court (formerly known as the Unified Family Court). Both the type of case and the location of the litigants determine the type of court that will hear the case.

The Ontario Court of Justice has jurisdiction over child protection, adoption, custody, access, child support, and spousal support but does not hear divorce or property matters arising from a family breakdown.

The Superior Court of Justice has jurisdiction over divorce, the division of property, custody, access, child support, and spousal support. It does not hear child protection or adoption cases. The Superior Court of Justice, Family Court has exclusive jurisdiction in all family matters. In effect, the Family Court hears all family-related cases, including child protection, adoption, custody, access, child and spousal support, divorce, and the division  of property.

The Superior Court of Justice, Family Court has exclusive family law jurisdiction in approximately 40% of the province. Family law cases in the other 60% of the province are heard by either the Ontario Court of Justice or the Superior Court  of Justice.

Family Law Legislation and Procedure

There are various provincial statutes that govern family law proceedings at the Ontario Court of Justice. They include the following:

  • Child and Family Services Act (child protection, adoption, children with mental disorders)
  • Children’s Law Reform Act (custody and access of children, enforcement of custody, and access orders)
  • Change of Name Act
  • Family Law Act (support for children, dependent spouses, and destitute parents)
  • Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act (enforcement of Ontario support orders)
  • Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act (enforcement of support orders made outside of Ontario)
  • Marriage Act (who may marry, parental consent to marry, capacity to consent to marriage)
  • Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms  (the rights and freedoms guaranteed as per our constitution)
  • Family Law Rules (govern all family proceedings at all types of court, including the Ontario Court of Justice)

Case Flow Chart

The following chart depicts the basic flow of domestic family matters through the Ontario Court of Justice. Individuals file applications in the court to start a proceeding. Typically, litigants attend a first court date to ensure that all their materials are filed and served and then attend a case conference to narrow the issues and attempt to resolve the case. In the few cases where a settlement cannot be reached, litigants will proceed to  a trial.

Judges

Judges of the Ontario Court of Justice are either considered “two-hatters” (judges who hear both criminal and family cases) or specialists (judges who hear only family or criminal cases).

Other than in Toronto, most judges at the Ontario Court of Justice are considered two-hatters.  In Toronto, one court location-47 Sheppard  Avenue East-hears only family matters, while the other court-311 Jarvis Street-hears family and youth matters.

Family Law Judicial Workload

Proceedings Received, Disposed, and Pending

The primary indicators of workload and caseflow for family matters in the Ontario Court of Justice are proceedings received, proceedings disposed, and proceedings pending. These measures are reflected in the chart below, which indicates that the aggregate of all proceedings received increased slightly in 2009 from 2008 while the number of proceedings disposed increased over the same period. The number of proceedings pending is also reflected, and it increased by the end of 2009 as compared to the end of 2008.

Family Proceedings Received

Family law proceedings are categorized into several different types. The most significant categories are applications under the Children’s Law Reform Act and/or the Family Law Act (CLRA/FLA), which includes applications for child custody or access,  or various kinds of support; child protection  proceedings under the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA); adoption proceedings; Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act (ISOA) proceedings; and other miscellaneous matters.

The following pie charts depict the number of  proceedings received in 2008 and 2009 in these categories. Nearly sixty-eight percent (67.9%) of the proceedings received are custody, access, and support matters brought under the CLRA/FLA, while 25.8% are CFSA matters, and only a  relatively small proportion are ISOA, adoption, and other matters. The number of CLRA/FLA matters increased from 2008 to 2009 while CFSA matters decreased somewhat over the same period.

Types of Events Heard

In family proceedings in the Ontario Court of Justice, there are a number of events that take place before the court. Some of these events, each of which represents an appearance that takes place on a single date, can take place more than once and in fact many times in the course of a single proceeding. These are captured statistically in  different categories, including various types of conferences, which are less formal appearances before the court to discuss the case’s progress and any interim orders that may be required in the course of the case; various types of motions,  which are usually contested matters that proceed typically with evidence being filed and legal  submissions being made; and ultimately trial-scheduling and trial events as well as many other types of hearings. The following chart reflects a slight increase in conferences and motions from 2008 to 2009, a slight increase in trial-scheduling events, and an increase in trial events and slight decrease in other hearings.

Family Law Committees and Working Groups

The Ontario Court of Justice’s family court judges are involved in many different internal and external committees, subcommittees, and working groups. Some of these are listed in the subsections that follow.

Advisory Committee on Family Law (ACFL)

The Advisory Committee on Family Law was established in 2002. The Committee’s mandate is to advise the Chief Justice on family law issues, policies, and practices.

In 2008, an ACFL “role and function” working group was established to ensure that the Committee was fulfilling its mandate to its fullest potential. The working group proposed a number of changes including, a chair of the Committee from amongst its membership, establishing terms for Committee members, and various working groups which included ACFL members and non-members.

Members of the Committee include one judge from each of the regions, other than Toronto; two judges from Toronto; one judge from the Ontario Conference of Judges; and one judge who represents the Ontario Court of Justice at the Family Rules Committee. Committee members sit for three (3) year terms. The Chief Justice and Associate Chief Justice attend the meetings as ex-officio members.

The ACFL meets at least three times per year  as a whole committee. One of the meetings is a stand-alone meeting while the others are attached to the family educational conferences. In addition, when family law issues arise, the ACFL will also meet, on short notice, to discuss an issue and make recommendations.

Family Rules Committee

The Family Rules Committee is a statutory committee whose purpose is to make rules of procedure for the Ontario Court of Justice, the Superior Court of Justice, and the Court of Appeal. It was established under section 67 of the Courts of Justice Act.

As stated in the Family Law Rules, the primary objective of the rules is to deal with cases justly. This includes ensuring that the procedure is fair to all parties, saving time and expense, dealing with the case in ways that are appropriate to its importance and complexity, and giving appropriate court resources to the case while taking account of the need to give resources to other cases. Also according to the rules, the court is required to apply the rules to promote the primary objective, and the parties and their lawyers are required to help the court promote the primary objective.

The Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, or his or her designate, is a member of the Family Rules Committee. As well, the Chief Justice appoints two judicial members of the Ontario Court of Justice and two lawyers to the Committee.

Family Courts Steering Committee

The Family Courts Steering Committee, formerly known as the Child Protection Backlog Committee, is an initiative of the Ministry of the Attorney General. Its mandate is to find ways to improve the delivery of services and the processing of cases in family court. Its members include judicial  representatives and counsel of the Ontario Court of Justice and Superior Court of Justice and  counsel from Legal Aid Ontario, Ministry of Children and Youth Services, Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, and the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.

In 2007, the Steering Committee identified two priorities: a working group on long trials in child protection matters and a working group that would focus on recommendations to attract  lawyers to child protection work.

During the period of this report, the Long Child Protection Trials Advisory Committee continued to research the reasons behind long trials and to make recommendations concerning measures and best practices to expedite these trials.

The Advisory Committee on Attracting New Child Protection Lawyers researched and reviewed issues relating to the decrease in the number of child protection lawyers and made recommendations to increase the number of lawyers who practice child protection law.

Family Law Developments:  2008-2009

Ontario Court of Justice Family Law Vision Statement

Beginning in 2005, the ACFL conducted a round of consultations with the family judges of the Ontario Court of Justice to define a long-term vision for family law. This culminated in a  vision statement released by the Chief Justice in July 2007.

The vision statement sets out priorities and  suggested strategies for family law at the Ontario Court of Justice for five years. In 2008 and 2009, the Advisory Committee on Family Law continued to work on implementing many of the strategies in the Vision Statement.

Ontario Court of Justice Services and Resources Survey

The Advisory Committee on Family Law  conducted a survey of Ontario Court of Justice judges in 2008 to determine the resources and services available at each of its family court sites. The survey allowed the Ontario Court of Justice to determine basic requirements and resource  standards for each family court to operate  efficiently and effectively.

Ontario Court of Justice Best Practices for Family Programs and Services at Family Courts

The Advisory Committee on Family Law developed Best Practices for the Ontario Court of Justice family courts after consulting with family judges as to the services and resources available at each court. The document recommends that all courts have a First Appearance Court, Legal Aid Ontario advice and duty counsel, Parent Information Programs, Family Law Information Centres, access to assessments where required, mediators, and designated family court staff.

Projects to Attract Child Protection Lawyers

The Ontario Court of Justice developed two projects to attract lawyers to child protection law. In 2009, the Office of the Chief Justice helped plan two  networking events with law students, judges, and child protection lawyers. The students were given  information and encouragement from the judges and lawyers to consider child protection as a career. Another project that the Ontario Court of Justice initiated is the development of a child  protection training program for new lawyers, scheduled for October 2010.

Criminal – Family Intersection Working Group

The Ontario Court of Justice began discussions between judges, Children’s Aid Societies, Crowns, defense lawyers, Legal Aid Ontario, Ministry of  the Attorney General personnel, the police, probation and parole officials, and community resources organizations to develop protocols that would assist with the intersection of family and criminal matters.  Subcommittees examined various issues including order-sharing between the criminal and the family courts and the establishment of an  integrated domestic violence court pilot project.

Integrated Domestic Violence Court Pilot Project, Toronto

Discussions about the potential for an integrated domestic violence (IDV) court in Toronto started at the Ontario Court of Justice in 2009. A planning team of judges, defence lawyers, Crowns, Legal Aid Ontario, Ministry of the Attorney General  personnel, the police, probation and parole officials, Victim Witness Assistance Program personnel, and community resources organizations met  to discuss the possible implementation of the  pilot court.

Ontario Justice Education Network

The Ontario Justice Education Network (OJEN) is dedicated to “promoting understanding, education, and dialogue to support a responsive and inclusive justice system”. In 2008 and 2009, the Office of the Chief Justice worked with the OJEN to add more family law education and family law events to its curriculum. Now, teachers and students will be able to access family and child protection law scenarios for mock trials.

Osgoode Hall Public Interest Requirement and the Ontario Court of Justice

A number of judges at the Ontario Court of Justice worked with Osgoode Hall law students in various projects in 2008 and 2009. The Osgoode Hall Law School requires each law student to engage in forty hours of law-related, non-compensated, and public interest work in order for the student to graduate. One of the projects that the students worked on was a community resources binder, which gives the judiciary information about the programmes and services available for families in the community.

Ontario Court of Justice Family Court Scheduling Guidelines and Best Practices

In 2009, the Ontario Court of Justice released its family court scheduling guidelines and practices. This document was a culmination of work done by the ACFL’s Family Scheduling Guidelines Working Group. It sets out guiding principles and best practices when scheduling family matters in the Ontario Court of Justice. It can be found at http://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/family-court/serving-the-public/family-scheduling-policy/.

Section 6

Justices of the Peace,  Ontario Court of Justice

Jurisdiction

The jurisdiction of the justices of the peace in Ontario is among the broadest of all the provinces in Canada. All justices of the peace have jurisdiction throughout the province of Ontario. Justices of the peace work broadly in two main areas of jurisdiction – criminal law and provincial offences.

In the area of criminal law, justices of the peace preside over virtually all bail hearings in the  province and preside frequently in first appearance and remand criminal courts. They also receive informations (documents that commence criminal proceedings), issue process in the form of  summonses or warrants, and deal with applications for the issuance of search warrants under the Criminal Code and other statutes.

With respect to provincial offences, justices of the peace exercise jurisdiction over the whole range of provincial offences and offences against municipal bylaws. They issue process, receive applications for warrants, and preside over provincial offences trials under such statutes as the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Highway Traffic Act, the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act, Christopher’s Law (Sex Offender Registry), the Dog Owners’ Liability Act, the Liquor Licence Act, the Trespass to Property Act, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, and the Environmental Protection Act. A provincial offences trial court presided over by a justice of the peace is a court of competent jurisdiction under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in which the justice of the peace has authority to grant the range of remedies provided under section 24 of the Charter.

Complement

The Ontario Court of Justice currently has a funded complement of 345 full-time equivalent justice of the peace positions. In the course of any year and over differing periods of time, the number of justices of the peace actually available to be scheduled fluctuates as a result of vacancies, illness and leave.

Prior to the passage of the Access to Justice Act,  justices of the peace were appointed as either a non-presiding justice of the peace or as a presiding justice of the peace. Some of the duties of a non-presiding justice of the peace include considering search warrants and presiding over bail hearings. A presiding justice of the peace has the same powers, as well as the ability to preside over a trial under the Provincial Offences Act. The Access to Justice Act amended the Justices of the Peace Act in order to phase out this distinction, so that all newly appointed justices of the peace are appointed as presiding justices.

In addition to the funded complement, there are per diem justices of the peace. These are justices of the peace of the Court who have elected, upon retirement, to sit on a per diem basis. The number of per diem justices of the peace varies from year to year and from location to location and also has an impact on the actual number of justices of the peace sitting at any point in time.

A full list of the justices of the peace of the Court as of December 31, 2009 appears in Appendix 4.

A list of the justices of the peace who fully retired or left the Court during 2008 and 2009 appears in Appendix 5.

In Memoriam

The Court honours the memory of two of its justices of the peace.

His Worship Charles Sanders of the North East Region passed away on March 13, 2008.

His Worship Robert Ponton of the West Region passed away on July 18, 2009.

Local Administrative Justices  of the Peace

Local administrative justices of the peace assist the regional senior justice of the peace, the regional senior judge, and the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace with local matters pertaining to the jurisdiction of  justices of the peace. Some examples of their responsibilities are:

  • acting as a liaison between the local justices of the peace and the regional senior justices of the peace regarding scheduling issues or the assignment of cases;
  • assessing local justice of the peace needs and, if per diem assistance is required, advising the regional senior justice of the peace;
  • advising the regional senior justice of the peace of issues of local concern; and
  • establishing or participating in local court liaison committees to address local issues where required, either on a permanent or ad hoc basis.

Change to Mandatory Retirement Age

As a result of Judge Strathy’s decision in Association of Justices of the Peace of Ontario v. Ontario (Attorney General) [2008] O.J. No. 2131 (Superior Court of Justice), the mandatory retirement age for justices of the peace is now age 75.

In his judgement, released on June 2, 2008, Judge Strathy stated:

“Every justice of the peace in Ontario shall be required to retire upon attaining the age of 65 years, but a justice of the peace who has attained retirement age may, subject to the annual approval of the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, continue in office until he or she attains the age of 75 years”.

This decision applies to all full-time, part-time and per diem justices of the peace.

As a result of the decision, six full-time, one part-time and six per diem justices of the peace who had reached the previous mandatory retirement age of 70 years returned to the Court.

Continuation in Office

As a result of Judge Strathy’s decision, on November 28, 2008 the Justices of the Peace Review Council approved provisions and criteria to allow for the continuation in office of justices of the peace until age 75.

Justices of the Peace Appointment Advisory Committee (JPAAC)

In an attempt to make the appointment process of the justices of the peace more open and transparent, the Access to Justice Act R.S.O. 2006, c. 21, established the Justices of the Peace Appointment Advisory Committee (JPAAC). The function of the Committee is to classify candidates for appointment as justices of the peace and to report the classifications to the Attorney General. At the core of this process is the incorporation of community and regional input into the appointments process.

The JPAAC is composed of the following seven core members:

  • a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice; appointed by the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice;
  • a justice of the peace appointed by the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice;
  • a justice of the peace appointed by the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice who is either the senior justice of the peace responsible for the Native Justice of the Peace Program or another justice of the peace familiar with Aboriginal issues who is designated by the Chief Justice; and
  • four persons appointed by the Attorney General.

In addition, the JPAAC has seven regional  committees, one for each of the regions of the Ontario Court of Justice. These regional committees consist of the regional senior judge and the regional senior justice of the peace or their  delegates, not more than five other members appointed by the Attorney General, and a lawyer appointed by the Attorney General. The Attorney General designates one of the core members to chair the JPAAC for a term of up to three years.

Along with interviewing the candidates, the JPAAC performs functions that include developing the application procedure and the general selection criteria, and makes this information available to the public. As well, it advertises annually for  applications for justice of the peace positions in each region.

A candidate for the position of justice of the peace must have the minimum requirement of at least ten years of full-time work experience-either paid or volunteer-and a university degree or  college diploma. If the candidate does not meet the education requirements, an exception can be made if the candidate demonstrates exceptional qualifications, such as life experience.

The Attorney General recommends to the Lieutenant Governor in Council for appointment as a justice of the peace only a candidate whom the JPAAC has classified as “Qualified” or “Highly Qualified.”

Further information concerning the policies and procedures of the Justices of the Peace Appointments Advisory Committee can be found at http://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/jpaac/.

The Association of Justices of the Peace of Ontario

The Association of Justices of the Peace of Ontario (AJPO) is the professional association representing the interests of the justices of the peace of the Ontario Court of Justice. It was formed in 2000 as a result of the merger of the Ontario-wide Justices of the Peace Association and the Justices of the Peace Association of Metropolitan Toronto, which had represented their respective memberships for over 20 years.

The AJPO was formed:

  • to represent justices of the peace in Ontario in all matters of general interest and of a specific legislative nature, including, but not restricted to, dealings with government ministries, departments, boards, committees, commissions, and agencies;
  • to support the administration of justice by encouraging and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship with the Office of the Chief Justice;
  • to promote and enhance respect for justice in the province of Ontario;
  • to maintain the highest degree of professionalism in the justice of the peace bench;
  • to advise justices of the peace on matters  pertaining to their office;
  • to take all necessary or desirable steps to enhance the stature of justices of the peace in the course of their duties and in the courts over which they preside, and to safeguard  their independence;
  • to discuss and study the administration of  justice generally and particularly as it pertains to the jurisdiction of the justice of the peace;
  • to represent justices of the peace on the Justices of the Peace Remuneration Commission to ensure fair and equitable compensation, benefits, and pensions, and appropriate working conditions;
  • to promote uniform procedures in courts where justices of the peace preside in support of the administration of justice; and
  • to initiate relationships with justices of the peace in other provinces and territories in Canada and with their respective associations.

Justice of the Peace Workload

Justices of the peace preside over two main types of courts-criminal courts and provincial offences courts. In the criminal courts, justices of the peace preside over most bail hearings and sit in most assignment courts, which are courts where most of the appearances take place prior to trial.

As reflected in the graph below, justices of the peace spend roughly one third of their sitting time in each of criminal bail court, criminal assignment court, and provincial offences court. Sitting time in bail court has remained fairly stable between 2007 and 2009. Criminal assignment court hours have increased slightly and POA offences sitting time has increased approximately 7.5%.

Provincial Offences Received, Disposed, and Pending

Justices of the peace preside over almost all provincial offences matters that require any type of adjudication. A significant number of provincial offences charges are resolved by people voluntarily paying set fines without the need for any adjudication. However, virtually all other provincial offences charges laid require the adjudication of a justice of the peace, be it by reviewing the validity of charges laid when people do not respond to them, presiding over pre-trial guilty pleas, often with requests to reduce the fines involved, or presiding over matters that proceed to trial. The number of  provincial offences charged, the number disposed by set fines paid, the number disposed other than by set fines paid, and the number pending are general indicators of the flow of provincial offences. In particular, the number disposed other than when set fines are paid reflects the workload of provincial offences over which mostly justices of the peace preside.

The following graph reflects this flow of provincial offences. There was no significant change in the number of provincial offences charges received from 2007 to 2009. During the same time period, the number of charges disposed (less prepaid fines) increased by 4.2% and the number of active charges pending decreased by 20.2%.

Types of Provincial Offences Charges Received

There are over 250 statutes and many municipal bylaws in Ontario under which charges can be laid. The pie charts indicate proportionally the statutes (and bylaws as a group) under which charges were laid. While the total amount of charges received increased by 2.5% from 2008 to 2009, the general types of charges did not change much proportionally.

JPEC Subcommittees

Advisory Committee on Education

The Advisory Committee on Education is responsible for ensuring that justices of the peace receive the highest quality judicial education to allow them to fulfill their roles in the judicial system.

The Committee is in charge of overseeing the program of workshops for newly appointed justices of the peace. The workshops take the justices of the peace progressively through the duties of office and provide an understanding of their role. The Committee is also responsible for monitoring  the system of mentoring for new appointees and planning the agendas for the justices of the peace continuing education programs and conferences.

Further information on this Committee can be found in Section 7 of this report.

Provincial Offences Act (POA) Subcommittee

This committee is composed of the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace, Senior Advisory Justice of the Peace, a judge, a justice of the peace, and counsel from the Centre for Judicial Research and Education. The Committee meets as needs arise and sometimes invites guests to meetings, depending on the items for discussion on the agenda.

E-warrant Executive Steering Committee and E-warrant Working Committee

The E-warrant Executive Steering Committee is composed of justices of the peace, representatives from the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, representatives from various police services, and a representative of the Police Association of Ontario. The responsibility of the Steering Committee is to provide sponsorship and oversight of the E-warrants Initiative, with the objective of implementing an electronic E-warrants program.

The E-warrant Working Committee is chaired by a lead from the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Business Solutions Branch and is composed of justices of the peace, representatives from the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, representatives from various police services, and a representative of the Police Association of Ontario. Its mandate is to develop the base requirements and a business case for an electronic solution  for the transmission and approval of requests for  warrants and associated documents.

Justice of the Peace Conduct

Under section 13 of the Justices of the Peace Act, the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace has jurisdiction to establish standards of conduct for all justices of the peace in Ontario. This includes the authority to create a plan for bringing those standards into effect once they have been reviewed and approved by the Justices of the Peace Review Council.

In 2007, the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace initiated the development of judicial standards for justices of the peace. The standards were approved by the Justices of the Peace Review Council in November 2007 and are contained in a document titled Principles of Judicial Office of Justices of the Peace of the Ontario Court of Justice. The document can be found at http://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/jprc/principles-of-judicial-office/.

ONTARIO COURT OF JUSTICE

Principles of Judicial Office of Justices of the Peace of Ontario Court of Justice

“Respect for the judiciary is acquired through the pursuit of excellence in administering justice.”

Preamble

A strong and independent judiciary is  indispensable to the proper administration of justice in our society. Justices of the peace must be free to perform their judicial duties without fear of reprisal or influence from any person, group, institution, or level of government. In turn, society has a right to expect those appointed as justices of the peace to be honourable and worthy of its trust and confidence.

The justices of the peace of the Ontario Court of Justice recognize their duty to establish, maintain, encourage, and uphold high standards of personal conduct and professionalism so as to preserve the  independence and integrity of their judicial office and to preserve the faith and trust that society places in the men and women who have agreed to accept the responsibilities of judicial office.

The following principles of judicial office are established by the justices of the peace of the Ontario Court of Justice and set out standards of excellence and integrity to which all justices of the peace subscribe. These principles are not exhaustive. They are designed to be advisory in nature and are not directly related to any specific  disciplinary process. Intended to assist  justices of the peace in addressing ethical and professional dilemmas, they may also serve in assisting the public to understand the reasonable expectations which the public may have of justices of the peace in the  performance of judicial duties and in the conduct of their personal lives.

The Justice of the Peace in Court

1.1       Justices of the peace must be impartial and objective in the  discharge of their judicial duties.

Commentaries:

Justices of the peace should not be influenced by partisan interests, public pressure, or fear of criticism.

Justices of the peace should maintain their objectivity and shall not, by words or conduct, manifest favour, bias, or prejudice towards any  party or interest.

1.2       Justices of the peace have a duty to follow the law.

Commentaries:

Justices of the peace have a duty to apply the relevant law to the facts and circumstances of the cases before the court and to render justice within the framework of the law.

1.3       Justices of the peace will endeavour to maintain order and decorum in court.

Commentaries:

Justices of the peace must strive to be patient, dignified, and courteous in performing the duties of judicial office and shall carry out their role with integrity, appropriate firmness, and honour.

The Justice of the Peace and the Court

2.1       Justices of the peace should approach their judicial duties in a spirit of collegiality, cooperation, and mutual assistance.

2.2       Justices of the peace should conduct court business with due diligence and dispose of all matters before them promptly and efficiently having regard, at all times, to the interests of justice and the rights of the parties before the court.

2.3       Reasons for judgment should be delivered in a timely manner.

2.4       Justices of the peace have a duty to maintain their professional competence in the law.

Commentaries:

Justices of the peace should attend and participate in continuing legal and general education programs.

2.5       The primary responsibility of  justices of the peace is the discharge of their judicial duties.

Commentaries:

Subject to applicable legislation,  justices of the peace may participate in law-related activities such as teaching, participating in educational  conferences, writing, and working on committees for the advancement of judicial interests and concerns, provided such activities to do not interfere with their primary duty  to the court.

The Justice of the Peace in the Community

3.1       Justices of the peace should maintain their personal conduct at a level which will ensure the public’s trust and confidence.

3.2       Justices of the peace must avoid any conflict of interest, or the appearance of any conflict of interest, in the performance  of their judicial duties.

Commentaries:

Justices of the peace must not  participate in any partisan  political activity.

Justices of the peace must not  contribute financially to any  political party.

3.3       Justices of the peace must not abuse the power of their judicial office or use it inappropriately.

3.4       Justices of the peace are  encouraged to be involved in community activities provided such involvement is not  incompatible with their  judicial office.

Commentaries:

Justices of the peace should not  lend the prestige of their office to fund-raising activities.

Justices of the Peace Review Council (JPRC)

The Justices of the Peace Review Council (JPRC) is a body established under the Justices of the Peace Act in 1990 with a mandate to receive and investigate complaints against justices of the peace and fulfill other functions. Effective January 1, 2007, the Access to Justice Act, 2006, amended the Act to make changes to the composition, procedures and mandate of the Council.

The Justices of the Peace Review Council’s functions now consist of:

  • establishing complaints committees from among its members to review and investigate complaints under section 11 about the  conduct of justices of the peace, and  determining dispositions;
  • conducting hearings under section 11.1 into complaints about conduct and determining dispositions;
  • considering applications under section 5.2 of the Justices of the Peace Act for the accommodation of needs for justices of the peace;
  • reviewing and approving standards of conduct under section 13;
  • dealing with continuing education plans under section 14; and
  • deciding whether a justice of the peace may engage in other remunerative work.

The amendments transferred the Council’s former jurisdiction to interview candidates for justice of the peace appointments to the newly created Justices of the Peace Advisory Committee.

The Justices of the Peace Review Council is  composed of:

  • the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, or his or her delegate;
  • the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace;
  • three justices of the peace appointed by the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice;
  • two judges of the Ontario Court of Justice appointed by the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of justice;
  • one regional senior justice of the peace appointed by the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice;
  • a lawyer appointed by the Attorney General from a list of three names submitted to the Attorney General by the Law Society of  Upper Canada; and,
  • four persons appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Attorney General.

Any person may make a complaint to the Review Council about the conduct of a justice of the peace. The complaint must be made in writing. The Council does not have the authority to review  decisions by justices of the peace. If a person is unhappy with a decision of a justice of the peace, the proper way to proceed is through other legal remedies. If the complaint about the conduct of a justice of the peace is made to another justice of the peace, judge, or the Attorney General, they must provide the person making the complaint with information about the Review Council’s role in the justice system and how a complaint can be made to the Review Council.

After the Review Council receives a complaint, a complaints committee investigates the complaint. Once the investigation has been completed, the complaints committee has several options available to it, which range from dismissing the complaint, if it is frivolous or unfounded, to ordering a formal hearing into the complaint. Where a hearing is ordered, the hearing will be held in public unless exceptional circumstances require otherwise. If a hearing is held and the hearing panel finds that there has been judicial misconduct, a variety of actions can be taken, such as ordering the justice of the peace to apologize or to take special education or treatment in order to continue sitting as a justice of the peace, suspending the justice of the peace without pay, or recommending to the Attorney General that the justice of the peace be removed.

Although the panel can recommend to the Attorney General that a justice of the peace be removed from office, the actual removal of the justice of the peace can be done only by an order of the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

The Council makes an annual report to the Attorney General that includes a summary of complaints received or dealt with during the year. Further information concerning the Justices  of the Peace Review Council can be found at  http://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/jprc/.

Section 7

Education

The Ontario Court of Justice is committed to enhancing the professional excellence of all judges and justices of the peace through education. Education plans for judges and justices of the peace of the Court are each divided into two parts-a first-year education (initial orientation) program and a continuing education program.

Continuing education for judges and justices of the peace is intended to:

  • maintain and develop professional competence;
  • maintain and develop social awareness; and
  • encourage personal growth.

Each judge and justice of the peace has an  opportunity to attend from six to ten days of  continuing education per calendar year, dealing with a wide variety of topics.

Education Secretariat

The Education Secretariat coordinates education planning and programming for all the judges of the Ontario Court of Justice. The composition of the Secretariat is as follows: the Chief Justice as Chair (ex officio), four judges nominated by the Chief Justice and four judges nominated by the Ontario Conference of Judges. Research counsel of the Ontario Court of Justice serve as consultants. The Secretariat meets approximately five times per year to discuss matters pertaining to education and reports to the Chief Justice. The mandate and goals of the Education Secretariat are as follows:

The Education Secretariat is committed to  the importance of education in enhancing  professional excellence.

It is the mandate of the Education Secretariat to promote educational experiences that encourage judges to be reflective about their professional practices, to increase their  substantive knowledge, and to engage in  ongoing, lifelong and self-directed learning.

To meet the needs of an independent judiciary, the Education Secretariat:

  • promotes education as a way to encourage excellence; and
  • supports and encourage programs which maintain and enhance social, ethical and cultural sensitivity.

The goals of the Education Secretariat are:

  1. To stimulate continuing professional and personal development;
  2. To ensure that education is relevant to the needs and interests of the provincial judiciary;
  3. To support and encourage programs that maintain high levels of competence and knowledge in matters of evidence, procedure and substantive law;
  4. To increase knowledge and awareness of community, the diversity of the population and social services structures and resources that may assist and complement educational programs and the work of the courts;
  5. To foster the active recruitment and  involvement of the judiciary at all stages of program conceptualization, development, planning, delivery and evaluation;
  6. To promote an understanding of judicial development;
  7. To facilitate the desire for life-long learning and reflective practices;
  8. To establish and maintain structures and systems to implement the mandate and goals of the Secretariat; and
  9. To evaluate the educational process and programs.

The Education Secretariat provides administrative and logistical support for the education programs presented within the Ontario Court of Justice. In addition, all education program plans are presented to and approved by the Education Secretariat as the Secretariat is responsible for the funding  allocation for education programs.

The current education plan for judges of the Ontario Court of Justice is divided into two parts:  first year education and continuing education.  A copy of the current education plan can be found in the annual report of the Ontario Judicial Council at http://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/ojc/annual-report/.

Advisory Committee on Education

The Advisory Committee on Education is dedicated to the ongoing improvement of education provided to justices of the peace. The responsibility of the Committee is to ensure that justices of the peace receive the highest quality education to allow them to fulfill their roles in the judicial system.

The Advisory Committee is composed of the Senior Advisory Justice of the Peace as chair (delegated by the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace), Senior Justice of the Peace, the Senior Justice of the Peace/Administrator of the Native Justice of the Peace Program, regional senior justices of the peace, bilingual justices of the peace, justices of the peace nominated by the Coordinator, justices of the peace representing the Association of Justices of the Peace in Ontario, and counsel from the Centre for Judicial Research and Education. The judicial education and training assistants provide administrative support to the Committee. The Committee meets approximately four times each year and reports to the Justice of the Peace Executive Committee.

The Committee is charged with overseeing the educational program for newly appointed justices of the peace and monitoring the mentoring program for new appointees. A series of educational workshops take the new justice of the peace progressively through the duties of office and provide an understanding of his or her role.

The Advisory Committee, under the authority of the Associate Chief Justice-Coordinator of Justices of the Peace, also establishes a continuing  education plan that is approved by the Justices of the Peace Review Council, as required under the provisions of the Justices of the Peace Act. A copy of the continuing education plan can be found at  http://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/jprc/education-plan/.

The Committee also plans for special workshops and seminars as required.

Centre for Judicial Research and Education (CJRE)

The Centre for Judicial Research and Education is a law library and computer research facility that serves the Ontario judiciary. CJRE responds to specific requests from judges and justices of the peace for research and provides updates with respect to legislation and relevant case law through its regular publication Items of Interest. Counsel from the CJRE attend meetings of the Education Secretariat and the Advisory Committee on Education and participate in the development and presentation of educational programming.

Judicial Education and Training Assistants (JETA)

Under the supervision of the Senior Manager, Judicial Support and Education Planning, the judicial  education and training assistants (JETA) organize the administrative and logistical details for  educational programs, seminars, and conferences for the judiciary throughout the province; provide administrative support, status reports, and  summaries of course evaluations; produce all printed materials for educational seminars,  conferences, and workshops; and reconcile all invoices related to educational programming.

National Judicial Institute (NJI)

The Ontario Court of Justice, through its Education Secretariat, makes a financial contribution to the operation of the National Judicial Institute. Based in Ottawa, the NJI is a world leader in the development and delivery of judicial education programs.  Since 2002 the Ontario Court of Justice has made a significant financial contribution to the NJI in return for receiving dedicated education assistance from a senior NJI advisor. This relationship has given many judges of the Ontario Court of Justice the opportunity to work on the development of innovative programming and to serve as faculty for the delivery of that programming across the country. They are then able to bring their expertise back to the Court to the benefit of all aspects of the education portfolio. Judges have access to remote learning computer-based courses prepared and hosted by the NJI covering substantive law issues such as unlawful detention, mental health, and evidence. These programs, offered usually twice per year, are available at no cost to the judges of the Ontario Court of Justice.

Public Outreach

Ontario Justice Education Network (OJEN)

The Ontario Justice Education Network is a  collaborative network of justice and education institutions working to enhance justice education across Ontario. The Ontario Court of Justice has been involved from the beginning of OJEN, starting with former Chief Justice Brian Lennox’s founding role in the organization. Since then, the Court’s judges and justices of the peace have made a  significant impact on students by participating in the organization or presentation of courthouse visits, mock bail competitions, classroom presentations, and judge shadowing. OJEN is dedicated to  promoting a responsive and equitable justice system by engaging young people in the dialogue about our justice system and by ensuring that people’s first exposure to the system is a positive one. Each year, the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, participates in the selection and presentation of the Chief Justices’ Award. This award recognizes an individual who has made an exceptional  contribution to promoting educational activities  in relation to the justice system.

Further information about the Ontario Justice Education Network can be found at www.ojen.ca.

Other Outreach Activities

Judges and justices of the peace of the Court  frequently participate in education seminars and forums organized by groups such as the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, the Ontario Bar Association, the Association of Canadian Court Administrators, the Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges, the Ontario Crown Attorneys’ Association, the Association of Municipal Court Managers, and the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Section 8

Office of the Chief Justice Financial Information

Operations

The Office of the Chief Justice maintains control of all financial records and financial data pertaining to all judges and justices of the peace of the Ontario Court of Justice. In accordance with the principles of judicial independence, the office operates and maintains a separate arm of the government-wide electronic financial system.

The time frame covered by this report is the 2008 and 2009 calendar years. However, the operations of the Office of the Chief Justice are funded out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the Province of Ontario, and the budget planning cycle for the province is based on a fiscal year of April to March. Accordingly, the financial information contained in this report will be presented on a fiscal year basis.

The following pie charts are a breakdown of the elements included in the Office of the Chief Justice’s expenditures for the fiscal year of April 1, 2007 to March 31, 2008, and fiscal year April 1, 2008  to March 31, 2009.

Judicial Remuneration Process

Remuneration: Judges

The 1997 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Reference re: Remuneration of Judges  of the Provincial Court of Prince Edward Island  (the PEI Reference) held that the constitutional requirement of judicial independence necessitated that governments create independent remuneration commissions to deal with issues of judicial  compensation. Judges would not appear to be impartial and independent where they were seen, on the one hand, to hear and determine cases in which the government was the principal litigator and, on the other hand, to negotiate salaries and benefits directly with that same government. The same conclusion had been reached by the Ontario provincial government and the associations of Ontario provincial judges when a Framework Agreement was signed by the parties on November 18, 1992, creating an independent remuneration commission process for Ontario’s provincially appointed judges.

Section 51.13 of the Courts of Justice Act, along with the Framework Agreement set out in a schedule to that Act, established a largely binding process to determine judges’ compensation. The purpose of the Provincial Judges’ Remuneration Commission as set out in the Framework Agreement was to “contribute to securing and maintaining the independence of the provincial judges and to promote cooperation between the executive branch of the government and the judiciary and the efforts of both to develop a justice system which is both efficient and effective while ensuring the dispensation of independent and impartial justice.”

The Framework Agreement provided for the creation of the Provincial Judges’ Remuneration Commission to consist of three members, one appointed by the association representing the provincial judges (the Ontario Conference of Judges) and one appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, with the chair chosen by the first two members. The Framework Agreement provided for a remuneration commission to conduct an inquiry into the appropriate levels of salaries, pensions, and benefits for provincial judges in 1995 and every third year afterward.

During an inquiry, the Commission conducts hearings over the course of several days. Counsel retained by the Ontario Conference of Judges and by the executive branch of the provincial government call evidence and make submissions. An opportunity is also presented to other interested parties to make submissions to the Commission. The Commission then deliberates and prepares its report. In accordance with the Framework Agreement, the report is binding on the province with respect to salaries and benefits but not with respect to pensions. If the government chooses not to  follow a Commission recommendation regarding pensions, it is required to provide reasons for its decision that satisfy a test of “simple rationality.”

The provincial judges’ Sixth and Seventh Triennial Commissions were held concurrently and covered the period between April 1, 2004 and March 31, 2010. The recommendations contained in the report of the Sixth and Seventh Triennial Commissions were accepted by the government.  The report recommended that salaries for sitting judges of the Ontario Court of Justice be set at $242,007 effective April 1, 2008 and $248,057 effective April 1, 2009.

Remuneration: Justices of the Peace

In 1999, following the PEI Reference, the Justices  of the Peace Act was amended by the addition of  section 21.1 to require the Lieutenant Governor in Council to establish the Justices of the Peace Remuneration Commission, whose purpose was to make recommendations with respect to the remuneration of justices of the peace.

The Justices of the Peace Remuneration Commission consists of three persons: one selected by the Association of Justices of the Peace of Ontario (which represents the justices of the peace), one selected by the chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, and the chair of the Commission, selected jointly by the two previous parties. The regulations state that in 2002 and every third year afterward, the Commission will conduct an inquiry into the appropriate levels of salaries, pensions, and benefits for justices of the peace.

In the normal course, Commission hearings, which are public, are conducted over several days. Evidence is called and submissions are made by counsel retained by the Association of Justices  of the Peace of Ontario and by the executive  branch of the provincial government, respectively.  The Commission then considers the material and argument presented and prepares a report  regarding salaries, benefits, and pensions. The report is not binding on the province. The government, on receiving the Remuneration Commission report, must respond to it and is required to give reasons when it chooses not to implement a Commission recommendation. As is the case for the rejection of a recommendation regarding judges’ pensions, such reasons must satisfy the test of “simple rationality.”

The report of the Fourth Triennial Commission on remuneration for justices of the peace was released in June 2007 and approved by the government in the spring of 2008. It covered the period between April 1, 2005 and March 31, 2008.

The Fifth Triennial Commission was convened in the summer of 2008 and covered the period between April 1, 2008 and March 31, 2011.  The report of the Fifth Triennial Commission recommended that the salaries, effective April 1, 2008, for a full-time presiding justice of the peace be set at $111,943 and the salary of a full-time non-presiding justice of the peace be set at $81,444.  Effective April 1, 2009, it was recommended that the salary for a full-time presiding justice of the peace be set at $114,070 and the salary of a  full-time non-presiding justice of the peace be  set at $82,991.

Appendix 1

Court Locations Listed By  Judicial Administrative Region, Municipal Address, And Case Type as of December 31, 2009

Appendix 2

Judges Listed by Judicial Administrative Region as of December 31, 2009

Appendix 3

Retirements-Judges: 2008-2009

Appendix 4

Justices of the Peace Listed by Judicial Administrative Region as of December 31, 2009

Appendix 5

Retirements-Justices of the Peace: 2008–2009