Message from the Editor

  • October 03, 2021
  • David Milosevic

Access to justice is a frontline issue for us as lawyers. As with modernization of the justice system, it is a  challenge we have known about for years, and one that has attracted the dedicated work of government, judges, lawyers and academics. However, change has been slow to come. The perennial problems of complexity, costs, and marginalization of certain groups remain with us.

Today, with the modernization of the justice system spurred by the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the pace of modernization and the possibility of addressing many access to justice issues have increased. We are perhaps on a verge of a sea-change in how Canadians will gain access to the justice system.

Most prominent among these changes are remote hearings, which offer the possibility for remote communities to gain access to justice in ways not available previously. In addition, legal clinics may take on expanded roles as justice hubs, where individuals can gain access to legal advice and log-in to remote hearings, all in one location. And as always, the role of lawyers dedicating their time through organizations such a Pro Bono Ontario serves a crucial role.

The Covid-19 pandemic is reshaping society in ways large and small. Our relationship to work and to our communities has been changed. And perhaps the marriage of new technology and a new outlook on the importance of access for all Ontarians, regardless of socioeconomic status or historical marginalization, will ensure that these are changes for the better.

In this edition, we feature an interview with the 18th Chief Justice of Canada, the Rt. Honourable Richard Wagner. Chief Justice Wagner discuses the fundamental importance of access to justice in a democratic society, and the role of the Supreme Court of Canada in advancing access to justice for all Canadians.

We also have an interview with Omar Ha-Redeye, a prominent advocate in the Bar for access to justice initiatives in numerous forms. As Director of the Durham Community legal clinic, serving thousands of low-income Ontarians annually, and as a professor of law at Ryerson, Omar is uniquely well qualified to discuss access to justice issues and the changes occurring within our profession.

Along with Omar, we have an interview with Matt Cohen, manager of delivery of legal services for Pro Bono Ontario, which serves some 30,000 low-income Ontarians annually, and facilitates pro bono work by thousands of Ontario lawyers each year. With 20 years of dedicated service to pro bono, Matt is intimately aware of how access to justice issues affect Ontarians and the crucial role of the Bar in ensuring access for all. 

Finally, we have a thoughtful article by Cameron Fiske, C.S., where Cameron recounts his work at the Court of Appeal for Ontario and Supreme Court of Canada on behalf of self-represented litigants. Cameron’s’ article reminds us that as we rush to embrace technological solutions to access to justice, the human side of the justice system cannot be forgotten. Often-times, access to justice is best achieved through one-on-one access to a lawyer, and personal appearances before a decision-maker. As litigators, it is our responsibility to ensure that the personal participation in the justice system is maintained for all our clients who require it.

Thank you for reading this edition of the Insider. As always, your submissions are welcomed. Our next edition will focus on the topic of the law surrounding vaccination mandates and proof of vaccination certificates.

I would end by welcoming you to the new term of the Ontario Bar Association Civil Litigation Executive. We are fortunate to have Chantelle Cseh, a partner at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP assuming the role of chair of the Civil Litigation Executive, and Rachel Migicovsky of TAP Law as our incoming vice-chair. Chantelle and Rachel have provided our members with an introduction to the work of the Civil Litigation Section and outline our priorities for the year ahead.

David Milosevic

Editor

 

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