The OBA sent a questionnaire to each of the parties, as well as to the most recent Attorney General as well as the  Liberal and NDP justice critics in the last Parliament.  The questionnaire is attached here. We encourage you to pose these questions or other local issues, should the opportunity arise, to the candidates in your electoral district.

Ontario bar Association Questionnaire

  1. Ontario’s most vulnerable residents rely on the Legal Aid system to access legal services for a range of matters. From criminal charges to family law issues, and from landlord- tenant disputes to social assistance reviews, these Ontarians face access-to-justice barriers that are often far too high. The Ontario Bar Association and its many justice sector partners have advocated for decades for both increased funding and predictable annual funding for Legal Aid Ontario. 

    If your party forms the next provincial government, will you commit to ensuring sustainable, predictable annual funding for Legal Aid Ontario in each of the years of your mandate?
  1. Family law matters are heard, in areas without a Unified Family Court, at both the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice. Some of these areas include densely populated urban centres, which translates into significantly higher volumes of family law cases before the courts. People’s lives continue in a state of limbo for months and years while they await a hearing on their matter. Unified Family Courts better serve the public by consolidating family and child protection law matters within one court that is fully resourced with mediation and community services focused on early, cost-effective resolutions for families. 

    If your party forms the next provincial government, will you commit, in your first mandate, to working in partnership with the federal government to secure the necessary funding for facility, mediation and judicial resources to complete the rollout of the Unified Family Court across Ontario?
  2. The defence bar in Ontario has been advocating for improvements in the technologies used in Ontario’s correctional institutions to allow timely access to incarcerated clients. While efforts were made throughout the pandemic to provide virtual access, the technology was limited and, too often, either the technology was not working correctly or staffing issues presented obstacles to communication between lawyer and client. 

    If your party forms the next provincial government, will you commit to a review and overhaul of the technology used for lawyer/client communication in Ontario’s correctional institutions to ensure timely access to those who are incarcerated?
  1. The pandemic has forced courts to modernize quickly in an unprecedented fashion. Courts and tribunals across the province have adopted new ways of conducting hearings in a manner never seen before. However, deficits in bandwidth and technological infrastructure continue to present challenges for judges, court staff, lawyers and their clients. In February, the government committed $65 million over five years to improve and enhance technology in Ontario’s courthouses.

    If your party forms the next provincial government, will you commit to continuing and enhancing as required, this announced funding? Will your party ensure “zoom rooms” are provided in government / public buildings to ensure timely access for all Ontarians, regardless of where they live?
  2. The backlog in Ontario’s courts has reached unacceptable levels in the past several years. The pandemic significantly exacerbated the problem. As a result, for example, Ontarians with catastrophic injuries are waiting years for a trial date in some centres while their expenses to deal with the consequences of their injuries continue to accumulate. Even short motions on a file can take months to be heard by a judge or associate justice. 

    If your party forms the next provincial government, what is your plan to address the backlog in Ontario’s courts?

The OBA will be posting the party responses received to the questionnaire.