There are two major developments. First, on October 30, 2014, the Ontario government announced a spending increase of 95.7 million, to be directed towards increasing the financial eligibility threshold. The threshold is to be increased by 6 per cent on November 1, 2014. There are further increases of 6 percent on April 1, 2015 and another 6 per cent on April 1, 2016. Second, effective November 3, 2014, there are significant changes to the child protection tariff. Highlights to the changes are an increase in the initial allotment on certificates to 45 hours, an increase in the amount allotted to status reviews to 10 hours for uncontested and 25 hours for contested, actual attendance on temporary care and custody motions and six hours preparation for subsequent trial days. The changes will apply not only to new certificates, but also will apply retroactively to some existing certificates. How this will work is not yet clear. We will get the information on the changes to you as soon as we have it. Let’s all pat ourselves on the back for pushing hard for these changes.
Over the last month, there has been significant talk about the reliability of the test results from Motherisk at the Hospital for Sick Children. Historically, test results for drug and alcohol use generated by Motherisk have been treated by child protection authorities and the courts as being highly reliable. Recent developments suggest, however, this is not the case. In the recent case of R. v. Broomfield 2014 ONCA 725, the Court of Appeal threw out a conviction after considering the expert evidence of Craig Chatterton, deputy child medical examiner in Edmonton. Craig Chatterton was critical of the way in which Motherisk collected and prepared the sample, the methodology used to analyze it and the validity of the results. Several family law lawyers have been calling for a review of the Motherisk testing procedures. This is a significant issue in particular for the child protection bar because our clients seldom have the resources to challenge the results by, for instance, retaining another expert. As this story unfolds, we will keep our membership up to date. In the interim, this case underlines the necessity for counsel defending parents to question every test result, no matter how “reliable”.
The Law Society of Upper Canada is inviting comments from the profession on its consultation paper “Developing Strategies for Change: Addressing Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees”. The paper is the product of the LSUC working group established to investigate the challenges faced by racialized lawyers and paralegals and consider strategies for enhanced inclusion at all career stages. The paper is available online at www.lsuc.on.ca/racialized-licensees/. Comments should be sent to the attention of Josée Bouchard, Director, Equity, LSUC, no later than March 1, 2015.