NEWS FROM THE CHAIR
The FLA AGM was held on November 17, 2017. The following were elected to the board: Anne Calpin, Haley Gaber-Katz, Rosemary Gallo, Gary Gottlieb, Jean Hyndman, Katharina Janczaruk, Mary Reilly, Victoria Boger Mull, Rosemary Masemann, Deborah Stewart, Julia Vera and Zeenath Zeath. The new board met formally for the first time on December 19, 2016. At the meeting, the executive was formed. Your 2016/2017 executive are: Katharina Janczaruk (Chair), Julia Vera (Co-chair), Mary Reilly (Treasurer) and Rosemary Masemann (Secretary)
December was a very busy month for the FLA and especially for the legal aid committee. Katharina Janczaruk, Julia Vera and Jean Hyndman met with the board of LAO on December 9, 2016 and presented our concerns about the family law legal aid tariff. On December 12, 2016, Katharina Janczaruk and Julia Vera met with the Law Society’s legal aid working group to voice our concerns about legal aid. Attached is the executive summary, prepared by Jean Hyndman, of our work done over the last while on legal aid. The FLA has been active, meeting with representatives of other organizations and various representatives of legal aid Ontario following the announcement late December of cuts to LAO.
LAO invited submissions on proposed changes to LAO’s transparency rules (public disclosure of the money spent, including what lawyers get). Jean Hyndman drafted the attached submissions.
Family Law Rules Committee consultations on proposed changes to the cost grid – The FLA did not support the proposed changes, feeling that a cost grid would be of limited benefit to the majority of litigants, primarily in the OCJ. Please see the attached submissions on costs grid, drafted by Jean Hyndman.
UFC – Last fall on the Opening of the Courts, the FLA reported that the province seeks to expand UFC province wide. This is an objective that many in the family law bar, including the FLA, have supported for years. Last fall, we invited our membership to comment and early this year we were asked by the SCJ to put our support in writing. Mary Reilly drafted the attached letter of support.
Budget Consultations – The Family Lawyers Association provided submissions to the Ontario government on the 2017 Pre-Budget Consultations. The same as in other years: improvements to legal aid, court resources and social benefits. Please see the attached budget submissions drafted by Zeenath Zeath.
AND HERE’S WHAT WE ARE LOOKING OUT FOR:
LAO Cuts – The FLA board will be meeting with David Field (CEO LAO) and David McKillop (VP, Policy LAO) later this month. If you have any comments or concerns you would like us to pass along, please email the Chair or Chair LAO Sub-Committee .
Later this month, the FLA will also be meeting again with the LSUC working group on legal aid. The Advocates’ Society is facilitating a meeting with lawyers who do legal aid work in order to gather feedback on experiences with the legal aid system in Ontario.
Last year the FLA sent submissions on the Justice Bonkalo Review of representation in family court by non-lawyers and participated in various meetings, including a consultation with Justice Bonkalo on the issue. The report was due late December but has been delayed. The report is due any day now – we will be looking to it and will no doubt have something to say about it.
The Motherisk story continues. The Motherisk Commission will be meeting with key legal child protection, government and community partners, including the FLA, to objet their input. The objective, as set out in the Commission’s letter to the FLA, is to “share perspective, develop mutual understanding and inform how we move forward.”
The Ontario government is considering amending the Family Law Act to harmonize the definition of “child” for support purposes with the definition in the federal Divorce Act. The amendment would expand eligibility for child support for adult children who are unable to support themselves “due to illness, disability or other cause” similar to the Divorce Act. The FLA has been asked to provide its comments.
We have also been asked by MPP Monique Taylor, the Ontario NDP critic for Children and Youth Services for our comments on Bill 89 Supporting Children, Youth and Families Act
The FLA is working on some educational or social events. More about this later.