Mandatory Mediation in Ontario: Taking Stock After 20 Years

  • July 16, 2020
  • Jennifer L. Egsgard

For nearly 20 years mediation has been required in many civil litigation proceedings in Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor through the Ontario Mandatory Mediation Program (“OMMP”), but is not available elsewhere in Ontario. Mandatory mediation was subject to great resistance when it was introduced. Sceptics were concerned that counsel were best placed to negotiate settlements when appropriate without being mandated to participate in costly, delay-inducing and likely unsuccessful mediation, and that the adversarial model was being wrongly challenged. Proponents believed mandatory mediation would decrease legal costs and delays, increase access to justice and satisfaction experienced in resolving disputes. Twenty years later, mandatory mediation has become a familiar part of swaths of Ontario’s litigation landscape, and it is worth taking stock of the program: reminding ourselves why and how was mandatory mediation was introduced, how it has changed since its introduction and, importantly, asking what Ontario lawyers think of mandatory mediation now, having lived with it for nearly two decades. This article aims to address all of those questions, providing insight gleaned from recent Ontario Bar Association member surveys on mandatory mediation.