Social Justice Tribunals Ontario
2016 – 2017 Annual Report
(April 1, 2016 – March 31, 2017)

A man adjusts he glass as he watches a woman date stamp his forms.



Table of Contents

Message from the Executive Chair

Message from the Executive Lead

Social Justice Tribunals Ontario (SJTO) Child and Family Services Review Board (CFSRB) Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB) Custody Review Board (CRB) Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT) Ontario Special Educations Tribunal (OSET) Appendix I: Social Justice Tribunals Ontario (SJTO) Members as of March 31, 2017

Message from the Executive Chair

Head shot of Michael Gottheil


The Social Justice Tribunals Ontario tagline is "Fair and Accessible Justice".

Beyond barrier-free buildings and plain language information, we generally think of "accessible justice" as being timely and cost efficient. These are important objectives. "Justice delayed is justice denied," is a well-known adage, and justice that is too expensive is of little use to most people.

For those reasons we apply a lot of energy and expertise to designing systems that are physically and functionally accessible, timely, and cost effective.

We are constantly refining our processes – improving our intake and our scheduling, offering hearings by phone and video and - in the future - by web. We always try to ensure decisions are released in a timely manner, although with 100,000 cases a year, this can be a real challenge. We keep constant tabs on the volume of cases and the time it takes to resolve them. We report our statistics, and are upfront when we fall short on our standards.

But as hard as we work to improve our systems, we should resist getting too attached to them, because justice is much more than systems, as important as they may be. Justice is about outcomes – fair, meaningful, practical and understandable. Fair outcomes must be true to the values that inform the law. When justice no longer resonates for people in this way, its role within our society is diminished.

This is why at Social Justice Tribunals Ontario (SJTO), we think beyond systems. We think about the individuals whose lives are touched by the statutes we administer, about the experience of people who come to the tribunals, and the impact of our decisions.

How do we do this? By recognizing that each case involves real people and that each case is unique. We need to be responsive to these realities, and also to the changing social context in which we operate.

We need to be innovative. We need to be responsive.

How do we ensure we are responsive and innovative? We recognize that we need to be willing to step outside the system altogether and challenge the status quo. We need listen to those we serve and the organizations that support them, including people with disabilities and mental health issues, people who have been marginalized by poverty, race or religion, and Indigenous communities.

These are some of the ways SJTO has been working with our community partners this year:

Calling certainties into question is scary. But to be a truly responsive justice organization, we need to listen, and then we need to be prepared to change based on what we heard. As executive chair of SJTO, that is a commitment I am willing to make.

Michael Gottheil's signature

Michael Gottheil, Executive Chair
Social Justice Tribunals Ontario


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Message from the Executive Lead

Head shot of Ellen Wexler


I am pleased to have this opportunity to take a look back at this year and share some of our accomplishments. We have a great deal to be proud of as we continue to innovate and improve service.

This fall, we moved 220 staff and members from six Toronto locations to 25 Grosvenor Street. With the tribunals under one roof, we are sharing knowledge, expertise, space and equipment. Our leadership team is meeting more regularly, both formally and informally, to learn from each other and share ideas about how to do things better.

The time and effort involved with planning and executing such a large scale move was significant, but innovation and change at Social Justice Tribunals Ontario (SJTO) continues.

In June, the Landlord and Tenant Board started actively offering email communication to people with an open application at all 8 of its offices. Email gives people a convenient way to contact the tribunal and can also be easier to use for people with hearing or speech problems and some learning disabilities. I am pleased to be able to say that all SJTO tribunals are now accepting email for some types of inquiries.

In September, the Social Benefits Tribunal started holding paperless hearings. All 35 tribunal members learned to work with the electronic files and are conducting hearings with just their laptops and no paper files.

In December, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and Criminal Injuries Compensation Board joined the other SJTO tribunals on an automated call system. Among the benefits of the new system - callers can connect directly with someone who is familiar with their case and the managers can see how many callers are waiting so they can add or remove agents.

The Child and Family Services Review Board launched a scheduling pilot where parties discuss their availability by teleconference. The idea is to reduce the time spent finding a suitable date for settlement facilitation.

The Landlord and Tenant Board e-File tool allows users to file one of four common applications online, anytime from anywhere. The number of e-filed applications increased by 10% over last year and 72% of the e-filers scheduled their application for a hearing date online.

Also this year, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board adopted a new case management system and improved its case processing timelines by more than 20% as a result.

Many other achievements are highlighted in the pages that follow – achievements that strengthen relationships with our users, make it easier to access the tribunals, speed up case processing, and strengthen alternate dispute resolution. These accomplishments cement SJTO's position as a leader in Canada's administrative justice community.

The year ahead is exciting. We are in the process of finalizing the design of public spaces and hearing rooms at 25 Grosvenor Street. We are looking forward to having a modern, accessible hearing centre located in the same building where many of our staff and members work.

We will also continue to find ways to improve the service we provide to the parties to the nearly 100,000 applications and appeals we receive each year. With our tribunals touching the lives of so many Ontarians, it is both a privilege and a responsibility to do everything we can to provide fair, accessible justice.

Ellen Wexler's signature

Ellen Wexler, Executive Lead
Social Justice Tribunals Ontario


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Social Justice Tribunals Ontario

A woman passes a document to an adjudicator at a dias. In the background, other people are sitting at desks.

Social Justice Tribunals Ontario (SJTO) is a group of eight adjudicative tribunals that play an important role in the administration of justice in Ontario. Each year our tribunals receive and resolve nearly 100,000 cases - providing fair, accessible dispute resolution to thousands of Ontarians.

The tribunals of the SJTO are: Child and Family Services Review Board, Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, Custody Review Board, Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, Landlord and Tenant Board, Ontario Special Education (English) Tribunal, Ontario Special Education (French) Tribunal and Social Benefits Tribunal.

The kinds of disputes we address at our tribunals are extremely varied. We resolve disputes between landlords and tenants, hear appeals from people seeking social assistance and complaints from those who feel the service they received from children's aid societies has been unfair. We deal with applications about human rights and the rights of children and families relating to education. We assess and award compensation for victims of violent crime.

Legislative Authority

Social Justice Tribunals Ontario was created in 2011 under the Adjudicative Tribunals Accountability, Governance and Appointments Act, 2009 (ATAGAA). ATAGAA lets the government group adjudicative tribunals into an organization called a cluster, when "the matters that the tribunals deal with are such that they can operate more effectively and efficiently as part of a cluster than alone". Each tribunal within SJTO continues to exercise the powers given to it under law.

The Statutory Powers Procedures Act provides a general framework for the conduct of hearings before Ontario's administrative tribunals.

Mandate, Mission and Values

Mandate

The mandate of Social Justice Tribunals Ontario (SJTO) is to resolve applications and appeals brought under statutes relating to child and family services oversight, youth justice, human rights, residential tenancies, victims' compensation, disability support and other social assistance, and special education.

Mission

SJTO and its tribunals will:

Values

Our values set the foundation for our rules and policies, how those rules and policies are applied, and how we deliver service to the public. The values are:

Accessibility

Fairness and Independence

Timeliness

Transparency

Professionalism and Public Service

SJTO Operational Highlights

SJTO constantly works to make our tribunals more accessible, to strengthen the expertise of our adjudicators and to be leaders in the justice community. Here are some of the operational highlights from 2016-17.

Caseload Statistics (April 1, 2016 - March 31, 2017)



Website – sjto.ca

The SJTO portal had an estimated 770,954 users and 3,609,344 page views in 2016-17. By comparison, the portal had 563,571 users and 2,646,144 page views in 2015 -16. These numbers exclude users in the Ontario government. Overall, traffic to the portal increased by about 37%, of which 8.7% is accounted for by the addition of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB) to the portal in April 2016. The remaining 28.3% percent is due to other factors such as: more communications from SJTO that direct people to the site; links on printed materials; and links from other sites and SJTO appearing in more search engine results, likely because of more relevant content and a longer history on the web.


* Estimated.

About 74.7% of page views were to pages on the LTB site, 8.6% were to pages on the HRTO site, and 4% were to pages on the CICB site. The remaining 12.7% were divided between the rest of the tribunals and SJTO's corporate pages.

The percentage of desktop and tablet users dropped this year while mobile users increased by 4%. 67.2% of users were on desktop or laptop, while 27.3% were on mobile and the remaining 5.5% used tablets.

Email Communication Expanding

SJTO continued to expand the use of email as a way for people to communicate with our tribunals:

SJTO Data Inventory Published

The SJTO data inventory was published on sjto.ca in September. The inventory lists all SJTO datasets and identifies whether each dataset is open, under review or restricted under Ontario's Open Data Directive. Ontario's Open Data Directive requires every provincial agency to publish a list of datasets they create, collect or manage. The goal of the directive is to improve transparency and accountability.

Leading Online Accessibility

We continued to convert our PDFs (excluding forms) to HTML format on the web. HTML offers easy navigation for people using screen readers and uses less data than a PDF download, which is important for the 27% of SJTO web visitors on mobile devices. HTML documents can be saved to a computer the same as any other file format. More than 65% of the 340 PDF documents on the SJTO web portal are now in HTML format.

The currency, accuracy, and consistency of the converted documents was improved during the project by correcting errors, removing outdated references, standardizing formatting and adding or updating links.

All new documents, like practice directions and brochures, are also being created in HTML format.

Co-location of SJTO's Downtown Toronto Offices

In the fall of 2016, 220 people from six Toronto locations moved to 25 Grosvenor Street. The move included staff and members from all SJTO tribunals. Business services staff including legal services, human resources, and business planning, were also part of the move.

The move has reduced the space occupied by SJTO by about 12,000 square feet. Leasing costs are not part of SJTO's budget, however, the move will also save the Ministry of the Attorney General more than $1million dollars in leasing costs each year.

Co-location of SJTO's downtown Toronto offices has been planned since SJTO was formed in 2011. Staff and members from different tribunals have more opportunities to share information and experiences now that they are in closer proximity. Another benefit of being in a single location is that tribunal staff and members have more immediate access to business services staff. In fact, a post-occupancy survey among people who moved to 25 Grosvenor, respondents most often cited "access to colleagues" as what they liked most.

In phase 2, hearing rooms, service counters, other public spaces, and the LTB's Toronto South office will relocate to the renovated facility. In the past year, designs for phase 2 were completed and contractors competed for the work. The new space should be ready to use in spring 2018.

Flexible Work Arrangements

Many SJTO employees were offered flexible work arrangements for the first time this year. These included compressed work week, where employees worked longer hours in exchange for time off, and flexible working hours, where employees had the opportunity to shift their working hours for an earlier or later start time.

The goals of flexible work arrangements are to:

Professional Development for Members

SJTO has a professional development program for adjudicators and mediators that is unique in Canada. The program has three distinct components: skill development (e.g. decision-writing), training in procedures, legislation and case law, and social and cultural context training which sheds light on the perspectives of our users and the challenges they face.

"The Professional Development Institute", a conference for SJTO's 200 adjudicators and mediators, was held for the fifth time in June 2016. This was the first year that the PDI was conducted through teleconference and videoconference. This year's event included:

Fifty-three new members joined SJTO this year. They received foundational training that included modules on administrative law principles, natural justice and procedural fairness, statutory interpretation, freedom of information and privacy, ethical obligations and independence of adjudicators, human rights, and areas of law within the mandate of the tribunal.

Other professional development initiatives included training modules for all members in human rights, decision writing, electronic cases, evidence, credibility assessment, and an intensive session on Indigenous perspectives in dispute resolution. Many HRTO members watched the webcast of the Law Society of Upper Canada's Human Rights Summit.

The SJTO professional development program also incorporates courses from the Society of Ontario Adjudicators and Regulators, the Council of Canadian Administrative Tribunals, the Ontario Bar Association and the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice.

Staff and Manager Training

As part of SJTO's Indigenous Insights initiative, managers received training that raised their awareness of Indigenous communities and included a discussion on how to be more responsive to the needs of Indigenous people who appear before our tribunals.

Managers also participated in other training that included a workshop on how to approach challenging conversations.

Sixty-four staff and managers received plain language and accessible documents training. The sessions showed participants how to use plain language on the phone and in correspondence and how to create documents that can be read by people using a screen reader.

LTB customer service officers received training on the Residential Tenancies Act and handling calls from the public.

French Language Training for Bilingual Staff and Members

Bilingual adjudicators and staff of SJTO, Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario, and Safety, Licensing Appeals and Standards Tribunals Ontario gathered for three days of French language training in Toronto on March 6, 7 and 8, 2017. The training included mock bilingual hearings; presentations on recent jurisprudence, and shared tools and resources on legal terminology, diversity and inclusion, and mental health for bilingual professionals.

Public Accountability Documents Review

The Adjudicative Tribunals Accountability, Governance and Appointments Act, 2009 (ATAGAA) requires adjudicative tribunals to publish public accountability documents and review them every three years after their initial publication. In 2016-17, SJTO reviewed and updated its documents and submitted them to the Attorney General for approval, with the exception of the ethics plan, which was approved by the Conflict of Interest Commissioner. The public accountability documents include:

New Faces, New Roles

Accessibility and Diversity at SJTO

Access to justice, diversity and inclusion are core values of SJTO. We are committed to an inclusive work environment that reflects Ontario's diversity and to designing barrier-free policies, processes and services.

Commitments to accessibility and inclusion are found in SJTO's mission and values, our Code of Conduct and our business plan and a multi-year accessibility, accommodation and diversity plan.

Accessibility

In 2016-17, SJTO improved access by:

Diversity

In 2016-17, SJTO supported diversity by:

Human Resources

SJTO has:

Some members are appointed to more than one tribunal.

Financials

* The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB) joined Social Justice Tribunals Ontario on April 1, 2015. 2015-16 and 2016-17 include expenditures for CICB while 2014-15 does not.


* The caseload for the CICB increased by 5% in 2016-17 resulting in an increase in transfer payments.

Note: In 2016-17, CICB deposited $303,284 in the consolidated revenue fund for monies recovered by applicants through civil actions, pursuant to s.26(5.1) of the CVCA.

* The LTB application fees increased on January 16, 2017.
** Financial information for 2014-15 has been updated from the previous annual report to reflect final.


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Child and Family Services Review Board

At a boardroom table. A lawyer with a laptop speaks to an adjudicator at the head of the table. On the other side of the table, a couple who are the applicants, watch.

What We Do

The Child and Family Services Review Board (CFSRB) conducts reviews and hearings on a number of matters that affect children, youth and families in Ontario.

Legislative Authority

Under the Child and Family Services Act, the CFSRB can review:

Under the Education Act, the CFSRB can hear appeals about the expulsion of students by school boards.

Under the Intercountry Adoption Act, the CFSRB can review:

Operational Highlights

Support for Social Justice Tribunals Ontario's Child and Youth Division

The CFSRB continues to support the work of the Child and Youth Division (CYD) under the leadership of the board's new associate chair. The CYD was created by the SJTO to ensure access to justice for children and youth who come to its tribunals. In March 2017, work began to lay the framework for a pilot project that will be launched in June 2017. In the pilot, applications involving children and youth from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario will be streamed to the CYD for processing and adjudication.

Scheduling Pilot

In July 2016, the CFRSB started piloting a change to its process for scheduling Applications Regarding a Complaint about Services Sought or Received from a Children's Aid Society

In the pilot, select children's aid societies are being invited to a teleconference with applicants to discuss their availability for pre-hearing settlement facilitation. The goal is to reduce the time spent finding a suitable date for settlement facilitation. In the coming year, the board will evaluate the effectiveness of the project and decide whether to expand it to include all Ontario children's aid societies.

New Call System

The CFSRB's reception line has moved to an automated call system. Callers can still reach a receptionist, but they now also receive information about the work of the board, and the option to be transferred directly to a case processing officer if the caller has an active case.

Statistics

This year, the overall number of applications increased by 11% but the number of applications to review of a refusal of an adoption (s.144) and to appeal a school board expulsion decision (s.311.7) increased by more than 88%.

Statistics

Statistics

Table 1: Caseload
Table 2: Applications completed by resolution type: Section 61 of the Child and Family Services Act - Removal of a Crown Ward
Table 3: Applications completed by resolution type: Section 68 of the Child and Family Services Act - Complaints against a Children's Aid Society
Table 4: Applications completed by resolution type: Section 144 of the Child and Family Services Act - Refusal of Application to Adopt or Removal of an Adoption Placement
Table 5: Applications completed by resolution type: Section 36 of the Child and Family Services Act - Application for Residential Review Placement
Table 6: Applications completed by resolution type: Section 124 of the Child and Family Services Act - Review of Emergency Secure Treatment Admission
Table 7: Appeals completed by resolution type: Section 311.7 of the Education Act - School Board Expulsion Appeals
Table 8: Applications completed by resolution type: Section 5 & 6 of the Intercountry Adoption Act - Refusal to Adopt Outside of Canada

Service Standards

SJTO aims to meet our service standards 100% of the time. However, this is not always possible and our commitment is to fulfil these standards at least 80% of the time.




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Custody Review Board

What We do

The Custody Review Board (CRB) hears applications and makes recommendations on the placement of young people in custody or detention about:

Legislative Authority

The CRB operates under the jurisdiction of the Child and Family Services Act and the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Statistics

Statistics

Statistics

Table 1: Caseload
Table 2: Applications Completed by Method of Resolution
Table 3: Inquiries Held

In an inquiry, a CRB member calls or meets with the people involved to reach their decision.

Service Standards

SJTO aims to meet its service standards 100% of the time. However, this is not always possible, and our commitment is to fulfil these standards at least 80% of the time.



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Criminal Injuries Compensation Board

A man gestures as he testifies. The adjudicator takes notes as she listens.

What We Do

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB) assesses financial compensation for victims of violent crime committed in Ontario and for the family members of deceased victims.

The CICB can compensate victims for pain and suffering, loss of income, treatment expenses, funeral expenses and other costs that result from being a victim of the crime.

The CICB is committed to the principles of the Victims' Bill of Rights, 1995, which states that all victims should be treated with courtesy, compassion and respect for their personal dignity and privacy.

Legislative Authority

The CICB is established under the Compensation for Victims of Crime Act.

Operational Highlights

A New Case Management System

In October 2016 the CICB launched its new case management system. The previous case management system was 20 years old and ran on obsolete software and hardware.

Requirements gathering for the new system started in late 2015 and continued into 2016. From March - October 2016, the CICB was deeply involved in user acceptance testing, staff and member training, user manual development, streamlining and eliminating processes, and report development.

The reporting capabilities of the new case management system allow the CICB to access and analyze real-time statistics. By frequently reviewing productivity, work volume, and timeline statistics, the CICB can adjust its processes to be more efficient.

Updates to Forms and Guides

In December 2016, the CICB published updated application forms and guides. The new applications and guides:

Inaugural Practice Advisory Committee Meeting

The CICB's first Practice Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting was held in April 2016. The PAC brings together stakeholders from victim advocacy organizations, police services, community support programs, legal clinics and other government organizations and agencies. The PAC provides valuable feedback on CICB procedures and helps the CICB develop processes, directives and guidelines that serve victims better.

Statistics

In October 2016, the CICB launched a new case management system. The board's processing timelines initially slowed, as staff adjusted to the new system: the number of cases processed declined by 65% in the first two months after the launch. However, in Q4 (Jan 1- March 31), the CICB increased its case processing by 22% over the same period in the previous year.

To prepare for the launch of the new case management system, the CICB identified cases which had been abandoned, which resulted in an increase in the number of dismissals.

A change in legislation in 2016 removed the requirement to apply to the CICB within 2 years for victims of domestic and sexual violence. The CICB saw a dramatic drop in the number of requests to extend time as a result.

The distribution of applications by region stayed fairly consistent with a slight shift between the Toronto and Western regions. Similar to previous years, the distribution of claims submitted by female victims versus male victims hovered just below 60% and 40%. People from 35 to 64 years old continue to represent the largest group of applicants to the CICB.

The number of written hearings decreased slightly over the previous year to 3% of the CICB's caseload. The overall number of hearings decreased by 6% compared to the previous year. This decrease is primarily a result of the decrease in productivity during the launch of the case management system.

The amount awarded in compensation decreased slightly by 4% which is in line with the decrease in hearings. With $24.7 million in awards, "pain and suffering" continues to be the largest compensation category.

Statistics

Statistics

Table 1: Caseload*
Table 2: Applications Completed by Method of Resolution

* Changes to legislation reduced the requirement for extension reviews.
** Falls outside jurisdiction, duplicate, applicant died.

Table 3: Applications by Region
Table 4: Applications by Gender
Table 5: Applications by Age
Table 6: Types of Hearing
Table 7: Compensation Paid by Benefit Type

Service Standards

SJTO aims to meet its service standards 100% of the time. However, this is not always possible, and our commitment is to fulfil these standards at least 80% of the time.



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Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario

A man tells his story to an adjducator in a baordroom. The adjudicator listen.

What We Do

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) resolves claims of discrimination and harassment brought under the Human Rights Code in a fair, just and timely way. The HRTO first offers parties the opportunity to settle the dispute through mediation. If the parties do not agree to mediation, or mediation does not resolve the application, the HRTO holds a hearing.

Legislative Authority

The HRTO is established under the Human Rights Code.

Operational Highlights

Rule Changes

Two changes to the HRTO's Rules of Procedure took effect on May 10, 2016. The first change was to Rule 9.3. Applicants now have 21 days to file a reply to a response while previously they only had 14 days. The second change was to Rule 8.2. Respondents no longer need to file a full response to request deferral of an application when the issues in dispute are the subject of an ongoing grievance or arbitration proceeding. Instead, they can provide a copy of the grievance and tell the tribunal why they think the application should be deferred.

New Call System

The HRTO's reception line has moved to an automated call system. Callers can still reach a receptionist, but they now also receive information about what the HRTO does and have the choice to connect directly with the Human Rights Legal Support Centre or be transferred directly to a case processing officer if they have an active case.

Education and Outreach

The HRTO, along with the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, hosted a delegation from the Ugandan Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) in January. The HRTO shared information about its administrative and adjudicative practices. The visit was part of the EOC's project to strengthen its ability to implement its mandate, which is to eliminate discrimination and inequalities in Uganda.

Statistics

The HRTO continues to see an increase in the number of applications received. There was a 3% increase from 2014-15 to 2015-16 and an almost 7% increase from fiscal 2015-16 to 2016-17.

Statistics

Statistics

Table 1: Caseload

* Active cases at year-end includes cases that are "deferred" or put on hold until another proceeding outside the HRTO has dealt with the issue. There were 493 deferred cases in 2016-2017 and 467 in 2015-16
** The average time from when the application was accepted to when the file was closed.

Table 2: Decisions Issued by Type

In 2016-17, the HRTO issued 1,394 Case Assessment Directions, which helped the parties prepare for the hearing.

Table 3: Applications by applicant's postal code
Table 4: Percentage of applications by social areas under the Code

Some applications allege discrimination in more than one social area, so the totals exceed 100%.

Table 5: Percentage of applications by ground under the Code

Many applications claim more than one ground, so the totals exceed 100%.

Table 6: Mediations Held
Table 7: Representation at Mediation
Table 8: Representation at Hearing

Service Standards

SJTO aims to meet its service standards 100% of the time. However, this is not always possible, and our commitment is to fulfil these standards at least 80% of the time.




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Landlord and Tenant Board

A woman takes a number from a machine. In the background, another woman receives service at the desk.

What We Do

The Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) was established on January 31, 2007 to:

Legislative Authority

The LTB is established under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA).

Operational Highlights

Case Management Hearings – A New Approach to Applications for Rent Increase above the Guideline

In March 2017, the LTB began to hold case management hearings for applications filed by landlords who want to raise rent above the guideline because they have made capital expenditures (renovations, repairs, replacements or additions). The case management hearing provides both sides the opportunity to discuss, and possibly agree on, a fair rent increase.

During a case management hearing, a dispute resolution officer tries to help the two sides reach an agreement. If an agreement is reached, the dispute resolution officer records the terms of the agreement in an order called a consent order. If the application is not settled at the case management hearing, it is scheduled for a full hearing with an adjudicator on another day.

The dispute resolution officers follow a standard case management hearing structure, offering a consistent and transparent approach to resolving above guideline increase applications. Landlords and tenants receive information on how to prepare for the case management hearing together with their notice of hearing.

Emailing Notice of Hearing Packages to Bulk Filers

In March 2017, bulk filers (people filing more than three applications at a time) started receiving their notice of hearing packages by email instead of regular mail. Bulk filers now receive their notices of hearing more quickly than they did before.

The change was made after consultations and testing with stakeholders. Bulk filers also have the option to pick up the hearing packages at the LTB office.

At the same time, the LTB introduced the Bulk Application Information Sheet. On the sheet, applicants provide information about the applications in the bulk filing, who should receive the packages, and whether they will pick up the Notice of Hearing packages or want them emailed.

Changes to Application Fees

LTB application fees for most applications increased on January 16, 2017 by about 10%. Fees were also introduced for two tenant applications which were previously free, bringing all tenant applications to $50. Tenant application fees had not increased since the LTB was established in 1998. Landlord application fees were last increased in 2009.

At the same time as the fee increase, the LTB introduced a 10% discount for applications filed through LTB e-File. After the discount was introduced, the number of e-filed applications increased by 65%.

People who have a low income can request that the application filing fees be waived. The income threshold for fee waivers was increased by 10% to offset the fee increase.

New Notice for Victims of Sexual and Domestic Violence to End Tenancy Early

In September, the Residential Tenancies Act changed to allow tenants who are victims of sexual and domestic violence to end their tenancy in 28 days if they believe they or a child living with them may be harmed or injured if they don't leave the unit.

As a result of the legislative change, the LTB, in consultation with its Practice Advisory Committee, created a new Tenant's Notice to End my Tenancy Because of Fear of Sexual or Domestic Violence and Abuse (N15), a new Tenant's Statement about Sexual or Domestic Violence and Abuse.

Full-day Hearing Blocks

In the summer of 2016, the LTB began scheduling full day hearing blocks in Scarborough (in the Toronto East office), Whitby and LTB Central office in Mississauga. Before the change, hearings were scheduled in half day hearing blocks at these locations.

Full day hearing blocks increase the likelihood that all scheduled cases will be heard on the day, and not adjourned due to lack of time. For example, parties who want to speak to tenant duty counsel or try mediation will still have enough time for a hearing on the same day.

The change in scheduling will be monitored to make sure it results in more timely dispute resolution.

The Toronto South and Toronto North offices moved to full day hearings in 2015.

Changes to how the LTB Handles Requests to Review an Order

In July 2016, the LTB made the following changes to how it handles requests to review an order.

Preliminary reviews – All preliminary reviews of a Request to Review an Order are now conducted by a vice chair or other senior LTB member. Previously, any member could conduct this review.

Review hearings – If there is a review hearing, the member who did the preliminary review decides which member will conduct the review hearing within these parameters:

Previously, the member who made the order could not be assigned to conduct the hearing. The rules now also clarify that although the LTB can initiate a review without receiving a request from one of the parties (rule 29.4), a party cannot request that the LTB exercise this power. A party must request a review using rule 29.1.

Accepting Application-specific Inquiries by Email

In June 2016, all LTB offices started accepting emails from parties about their case. For example, parties can email documents for their application file or respond to LTB requests for dates they are not available, so the LTB can schedule a hearing. Each LTB office has its own email address. LTB staff received 23, 844 emails through those accounts from June 1, 2016 – March 31, 2017.

For many people, email is more convenient than going to an office or waiting to speak to someone on the phone. It also gives people a way to contact the LTB outside of business hours.

The LTB only responds to application-specific inquiries by email. People with general questions about the LTB application and hearing process or the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, should visit the website or call the LTB.

Case Management Hearings Pilot Update

From September 2014 to April 2015, the LTB did a pilot project which required parties to participate in case management hearings (CMHs) for Applications about Tenant Rights (T2) and Tenant Applications about Maintenance (T6) at its Toronto South and Southern offices. The case management hearing provided both sides the opportunity to discuss, and possibly agree on, a solution that wasn't imposed by the adjudicator.

This year, the LTB evaluated the settlement rates and adjournment (rescheduling) rates of cases which went to a CMH. The results showed that more than two thirds of the cases were not resolved at the CMH and required a full merits hearing. At one office, the adjournment rate of CMH cases was higher than the rate for merits hearings. After reviewing the results of the pilot and consulting with stakeholders, the LTB decided to suspend the pilot (in that form) on January 23, 2017.

The LTB is now using the pilot experience to identify the types of applications that are best suited to the CMH process, including those for Above Guideline Increase Applications, which were introduced in March 2017.

LTB e-File

Launched in July 2015, LTB e-File allows landlords and tenants across Ontario to file the most common LTB applications online, anytime from anywhere.

During the 2016-17 fiscal year, the LTB received 20,971 applications online.

32.2% of the 64,951 L1, L2, T2 and T6 applications filed with the LTB during the year were filed using e-File. This is a nearly 10% increase over last year. In part, the increase can be attributed to the 10% discount for e-filed applications introduced in January 2017.

72.1% of e-File applications were scheduled for a hearing date online: 77.1% of landlord applications and 28.2% of tenant applications. This is an increase of 3% over last year.

23.19% (4864) of e-File applications were filed outside of business hours, a 4% increase over last year.

Paper applications can still be mailed, faxed or dropped off at one of the eight LTB offices or personally delivered to more than 60 ServiceOntario locations across the province.

LTB e-File Survey

Conducted over three weeks in May 2016, the LTB e-File survey received responses from 112 people, 63 of whom said they used the tool. Of those, 89 % said they found it user-friendly. The most common suggestions for improvement were:

  1. More scheduling options
  2. The ability to combine applications
  3. The ability to e-file additional application types

The LTB will consider these suggestions when it upgrades the LTB e-File tool.

Statistics

In 2016-17, the LTB received 81,432 applications. This total includes landlord, tenant and co-op applications. This is an increase of 1.52% or 1,218 applications compared to 2015-16.

The ratio of landlord to tenant applications has remained relatively constant since 1998 when the resolution of landlord-tenant disputes was transferred from the provincial court system to the LTB. This past year was no exception, with roughly 90% of applications filed by landlords and 10% filed by tenants.

Applications for termination of tenancy and eviction continue to represent the bulk of the LTB's workload. Of the total applications received by the LTB, approximately 61% were to terminate a tenancy because of non-payment of rent.

Statistics

Statistics

Table 1: Call Centre
Table 2: All Applications Received, Resolved and Open at Year End

* The 2015-16 and 2016-17 totals include non-profit co-operative housing eviction applications.
** In a small number of cases, "resolved" applications are re-opened in the case management system (e.g. when the LTB grants a request for review of an order). As a result, a single application can result in more than one resolution. Therefore, the number of applications open at the end of the fiscal year does not necessarily equal the number from the previous year plus "applications received", less the "applications resolved".

It has come to light that at least 25% of applications that are listed as "open at year-end" in the case management system are in fact resolved. Staff are working to update the status of these applications.

Table 3: Landlord/Tenant Applications by Method of Resolution

1 ordered by hearing abandoned
2 mediated; ordered by hearing mediated
3 ordered by hearing contested or uncontested; ordered by review
4 ordered ex parte; ordered by section 206 agreement
5 discontinued; order voided; ordered amended; amendment denied

Table 4: Co-op Eviction Applications by Method of Resolution

1 Application withdrawn/discontinued; parties settled the issues on their own

Table 5: Landlord and Tenant Applications Received by Region

* When the system is unable to match the postal code to a region in an e-Filed application, it is assigned to
"Head Office".

Table 6: Co-op Applications Received by Region
Table 7: Landlord Applications Received by Type
Table 8: Tenant Applications Received by Type
Table 9: Co-op Applications Received by Type

Service Standards

SJTO aims to meet its service standards 100% of the time. However, this is not always possible, and our commitment is to fulfil these standards at least 80% of the time.



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Social Benefits Tribunal

Two women show their notice of hearing to a commissionaire.

What We Do

The Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT) hears appeals from people who have either been refused social assistance or who receive social assistance but disagree with a decision that affects:

Because of the sensitive personal information involved in these cases, the legislation requires that all hearings must be held in private.

Legislative Authority

The SBT is established under Part IV of the Ontario Works Act, 1997. Appeals are heard under that act and the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997.

Operational Highlights

Consent Orders for Disability Appeals

The SBT is moving to allow parties to resolve disability appeals through consent orders on the hearing day.

A consent order is an agreement between the parties which settles the appeal. If the parties can reach an agreement, a full hearing is no longer required, and the parties don't need to wait for the member to issue a decision. The terms of a consent order can be enforced by the court.

In January 2017, stakeholders were invited to comment on a proposed new form, rules and procedures that would allow for consent orders. The SBT is working with its Practice Advisory Committee (PAC) to implement the new process.

SBT Reaches out to Indigenous Social Service Administrators

The SBT made three presentations to First Nation social service administrators of the Ontario Native Welfare Administrators' Association (ONWAA) in the past year. ONWAA members administer Ontario Works and other social programs on Ontario reserves and can be the respondent in SBT cases. The presentations provided an in-depth overview of the SBT appeal process.

At the presentations, the SBT also told the groups that Social Justice Tribunals Ontario wants to hear from Indigenous groups in Ontario about how the tribunals can be more responsive to their needs.

These meetings were part of the SJTO Indigenous Insights Initiative.

Updated Forms: Appeal and Application for Reconsideration

In October 2016, SBT posted updated versions of its Appeal (Form 1) and Application for Reconsideration.

The new forms are easier to use and easier to understand. They are also accessible for people using screen readers. Both forms can be completed on computer or printed and filled out by hand.

Electronic Files in the Hearing Room

As of January 1, 2016, the SBT began processing new appeals electronically. The SBT held its first hearings using electronic hearing briefs in September 2016.

To train the members in using electronic hearing briefs, the SBT held three, half day sessions. Members learned:

The electronic hearing briefs have many benefits. If an adjudicator is unavailable, another one can access the file from the shared drive at any time, preventing costly adjournments. They can also navigate quickly between tabs in the briefs, highlighting important text, making notes or writing questions on the electronic file as they go along. Another benefit is that adjudicators can copy text (a passage from a medical report, for example) from an electronic file to paste into their decision instead of having to retype it.

About 80 percent of hearings were held with electronic files in 2016-17. The percentage will continue to rise as paper applications received before the switch to electronic files in January 2016 are dealt with.

Email Communication Expands

After a successful email pilot project in 2015-16, email communication with SBT continued to expand this year.

More than 250 people from legal clinics and Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) offices used email to submit inquiries and small documents to the SBT in 2016-17.

Since the SBT has changed from paper to electronic files, receiving documents by email makes it easier to add documents to the electronic file.

Offering email makes the tribunal more accessible and supports the OPS Green initiative.

Early Resolution Opportunity Program

The SBT continues to improve the Early Resolution Opportunity program (ERO). The ERO is held by phone with the two parties and a SBT Appeal Resolution Officer, who helps the parties look for opportunities to resolve the appeal without a hearing. Parties benefit from the ERO because they can have a chance to resolve the appeal as early as one month after the appeal is filed, instead of waiting several months for a hearing. The parties also have ownership of the resolution, instead of holding a hearing where a member makes the decision.

This year, the SBT held 2,075 ERO sessions, a 37% increase over last year. The settlement rate was 38%, an improvement over last year's rate of 34%.

Early Resolution Opportunities for Medical Review Appeals

A pilot to test EROs for medical review appeals was launched in November 2015 in partnership with the Disability Adjudication Unit and 4 legal clinics.

Between November 2015 and February 2017, 6 more legal clinics and their clients joined the pilot, bringing the total number of clinics participating to 10.

Because of the success of the program, a year-long, two-phase, province-wide expansion began in March 2017 and will run to February 2018.

Phase 1 (March – August 2017) includes clinics in Toronto, Peel, Niagara and the North. Phase 2 (September 2017 – February 2018) will include the rest of the province.

Over the course of the pilot, 85% of the cases have been resolved (meaning that the appellant is found to still have a disability) without the need to hold a hearing. Cases in the program are resolved as early as 2-3 months after the appeal is received, as opposed to 7 months for cases that go to a hearing.

Statistics

The SBT received 10,403 appeals, a decrease of 915 from last year. More appeals were completed than received, so the number of pending cases decreased by more than 2,400. The average time to complete a case decreased from 299 days to 290 days. Due to an improvement in scheduling practices, the SBT was able to schedule hearings within 30 days of receiving the appeal more than 80% of the time.

Statistics

Statistics

Table 1: Caseload
Table 2: Appeals Completed by Method of Resolution

* Withdrawn cases can include those closed due to a successful mediation session. (called an "early resolution opportunity" at the tribunal)
** Resolved at hearing includes decisions released following a reconsideration hearing.

Table 3: Appeals by Program
Table 4: ODSP Appeals by Category
Table 5: OW Appeals by Category
Table 6: Tribunal Decisions by Outcome

* Cases denied in absentia: Appellant was not present for the hearing.
** Other decisions include: consent order, no appeal before the tribunal, appeal out of time, no jurisdiction, matter resolved or withdrawn, or cases referred back to the Director or Administrator to reconsider its original decision in accordance with the directions given by the tribunal.

Service Standards

SJTO aims to meet its service standards 100% of the time. However, this is not always possible, and our commitment is to fulfil these standards at least 80% of the time.



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Ontario Special Education Tribunals

What We Do

The two Ontario Special Education Tribunals (OSETs) hear appeals by parents and guardians who are not satisfied with the school board's identification or placement of a child with exceptional learning needs.

The OSET- English hears appeals from decisions made by English Public and Catholic School Boards. The OSET - French hears appeals from decisions made by French Public and Catholic School Boards.

The OSETs hear appeals only after parents have completed all possible appeals at the school board level under the Education Act.

Legislative Authority

The Education Act and its regulations address the identification or placement of students with exceptional learning needs.

Statistics

The English OSET received two appeals in 2016-17. One was settled through mediation. The other was filed in late December and is scheduled for a hearing on June 15, 2017. The French OSET (TEDO) received no appeals.


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Appendix I: Social Justice Tribunals Ontario Members
as of March 31, 2017

The Executive Chair and the Alternate Executive Chair are members of each of the SJTO tribunals. Members with an asterisk (*) are appointed to more than one SJTO tribunal.

SJTO Executive Chair and Alternate

Child and Family Services Review Board and Custody Review Board

Criminal Injuries Compensation Board

Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario

Landlord and Tenant Board

Ontario Special Education Tribunals

Ontario Special Education Tribunals

English Tribunal Members
French Tribunal Members

Social Benefits Tribunal



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