Here’s a bit about what we have been working on and what’s coming up.
1. Family Lawyers Association – Legal Aid Sub-Committee – Please fill out our survey on the tariff for summary judgments in child protection.
Have you done a summary judgement motion since the Rule change last year? Were you able to do the necessary work in the 8 hours provided by the Legal Aid Tariff to defend the summary judgement motion? Were you even able to read all of the Society’s material in 8 hours?
Since the change to the summary judgement Rule 16 in May 2015, we have seen a huge increase in the number of cases that the societies are trying to deal with by way of summary judgement motion rather than a trial. It is no longer reserved for the hopeless cases or cases where neither parent has a viable plan. The Society’s material is often several hundred pages and the parent may have a good defence, at least with respect to the disposition being sought, but considerable work needs to be done to present that.
If all of the above applies to you, please complete the attached survey. We are asking you to look at your dockets for a file where you did a summary judgement motion and provide a reasonable estimate of the time spent in each of these categories. Your FLA’s Legal Aid Sub-Committee has already started discussions with Legal Aid Ontario about amending the tariff to provide more reasonable hours for summary judgement motions and have argued that the number of summary judgement motions has risen and the number of trials that they are funding has dropped, such that they are saving a lot of money on what would previously have been full trials. In one meeting with the new CEO and other LAO staff, on behalf of the FLA, Jean Hyndman made the point by taking the materials that the Society had served out of her brief case and setting them down on the table – it was several inches of bound volumes. I am sure that your experience is similar.
We need to convince LAO, however, that this is a widespread issue, that many more cases are being dealt with by summary judgement motions which reduces the numbers of trials, and that they need to increase the hours so that people are properly represented. You will recall how successful we were with our last in-depth surveys in convincing Legal Aid Ontario that the tariff had to be increased and we achieved a doubling of the tariff hours for cases involving Society and Crown Wardship. We can do this again, but not without your help. Please take a few minutes to complete this survey and return it to Jean Hyndman at: or 416-366-6266 (fax).
2. Continuing Education – There are some very interesting programs scheduled for this fall. Here is just a sampling.
The 311 Open Bar Series starts on September 2016. Justice O’Connell will chair a session on Examination and Cross-Examination. Look to our website for more information closer to the date. Remember FLA members receive a $5 discount off the $25 cost. Further sessions are scheduled for November through to June, 2017. Click here to download the schedule (it is also posted on our “Education” page).
The Law Society of Upper Canada presents the “Intensive Child Protection Trainer Primer” over the course of two days – October 27 to October 28, 2016. The Chairs of this event are The Honourable Stanley Sherr and senior counsel Lorne Glass. This session is critical for anyone who wishes to work in this area. Please see the flyer for more information.
Osgoode Hall School is presenting a number of great events this fall. In our last news letter we told you about the upcoming program “Recent Developments and Complex Issues in Child and Spousal Support” being held on October 13, 2016 and “Negotiating, Challenging and Drafting Domestic Contracts” being held on November 7, 2016. (Remember these qualify for the FLA 10 per cent discount. Please contact us for the discount code to enter when you sign up.) Another great event is the “Symposium in Honour of the Honourable Justice Marc Rosenberg” being held on September 23 and 24, 2016. The focus is on criminal law, constitutional and evidence. Many of us had Marc Rosenberg as an instructor and I still find my lecture notes from his lectures useful to this day. Please go to the Osgoode Hall website for more information.
3. News from the Ontario government. There were a couple of press releases from the Ontario government of interest to our members.
The Ontario government is changing the rules with respect to the deduction of child support payments from social assistance payments. Typically we hear a statement that it’s hardly worth pursing child support for a client on social assistance as our clients receive no direct benefit. We know that is not a valid reason for child support not being paid but now with the rules being changed, more money will go to directly to children. View the Q&A here.
And the Ontario government announced some infusion of cash into repairs and upgrades at community agencies across the province. One of those projects is a local facility, the Massey Centre. Click here to view the press release.
4. Congratulations to our colleague and friend, fellow FLA member, Sarah Clarke for being chosen by Canadian Lawyer Magazine as one of Canada’s 25 Most Influential Lawyers for 2016 in the Criminal/Human Rights category. She is recognized for her work as co-counsel on the landmark ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal against the Canadian government for its discriminatory treatment of first nation children and families in the delivery of child welfare services. This important ruling is attached. Please read!
5. FLA Co-Chair Jean Hyndman attended the National Family Law Conference held in Newfoundland in July. Jean participated in a number of discussions about legal aid and child protection. Please read her article on the discussions about innovations across Canada.