Social Justice Tribunals Ontario
2017 – 2018 Annual Report

A man and woman review their paperwork at their seats in a hearing room. In the background, other people are sitting at their desks.



Table of Contents

Message from the Executive Chair

Message from the Executive Lead

Social Justice Tribunals Ontario Child and Family Services Review Board Custody Review Board Criminal Injuries Compensation Board Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board Social Benefits Tribunal Ontario Special Educations Tribunal Appendix I: Social Justice Tribunals Ontario Members as of March 31, 2018

 


Message from the Executive Chair

Head shot of Michael Gottheil


Social Justice Tribunals Ontario (SJTO) strives to be a leader in the administrative justice community. While leaders are typically thought of as individuals performing bold acts, it is more often the efforts of thoughtful and dedicated teams collaborating with partners behind the scenes that carry out meaningful change. At SJTO, we are fine-tuning justice, together.

I am proud of the hundreds of hard-working staff and members that provide fair, effective, timely and accessible dispute resolution. In 2017-18 alone, our tribunals received and resolved more than 100,000 cases. Over the past year we also focused on identifying community-specific needs, leveraging expertise across tribunals, and exploring online tools to facilitate the resolution of disputes.

These are some of the ways SJTO has been fine-tuning our processes to provide fair and accessible dispute resolution to thousands of Ontarians each year:

We rely on the public appointment of full and part-time adjudicators to provide fair and accessible justice. Not only do these members conduct hearings and/or mediations, they also contribute to the ongoing improvement of the organization, its tribunals and the administrative justice system in Ontario.

It was a challenge in 2017-18 to ensure SJTO has the appropriate adjudicative and subject area expertise for the tribunals. We felt the impact of high turnover due to the maximum term rules set out in the Agencies and Appointments Directive. The impending 42nd Ontario general election worsened the situation by delaying appointments or limiting appointment extensions to six months. As a result, several of our experienced adjudicators left before their final term expired for other opportunities, and several vacancies have yet to be filled.

Fine-tuning the justice system depends on relationship-building and communication. SJTO will continue to participate in open dialogue, collaborate with partners and explore innovative approaches in an effort to create meaningful change in the administrative justice process in Ontario.

This message will be my last as Executive Chair, as I will be moving on to other challenges. Also, Ellen Wexler, our Executive Lead will be retiring after a distinguished career in the service of Ontario. I have the confidence that SJTO is a strong and diverse organization and one that is well placed to meet the needs of the broad sectors of Ontario that we serve. It has been my pleasure to work with every member of the SJTO team over the past seven years, and I thank all for their dedication, integrity and humanity.

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


This has been another busy year at SJTO. Together, our tribunals received over 100,000 applications and appeals and we continued to move forward on various initiatives. I am proud of our hardworking staff and adjudicators, for their commitment to fair, effective, timely and accessible dispute resolution.

SJTO implemented several online and electronic initiatives this year to expand communications methods and service delivery. We continued to increase the use of email as a way for people to communicate with our tribunals to answer inquires, communicate with parties and correspond with legal clinics and social assistance offices. We also produced new online videos for both the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) and the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT) to improve understanding of the hearing process, reduce barriers and increase accessibility.

We also explored various ways to update our case processing and management systems:

Work on our modern and accessible hearing centre at 15 Grosvenor Street has continued and is expected to be completed in fall 2018. We are looking forward to this opportunity to share resources and expertise.

This year also had its challenges. The increases in caseload and delays in public appointments has strained our staff and resources. Though SJTO aims to meet our service standards 100% of the time, we fell short of this commitment in some areas. Our service standards keep us focused on providing our clients with fair, effective and timely dispute resolution. We plan to review our challenges in meeting our service standards and respond with an approach to improve them.

We continue to look at how we can provide our services more effectively, to reflect and respond to the needs of our diverse communities. Expanding online accessibility, improving our case management systems and striving for service excellence supports our ongoing mission to be a leader in the administrative justice community.

Ellen Wexler's signature

Ellen Wexler, Executive Lead
Social Justice Tribunals Ontario


sjto.ca
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Social Justice Tribunals Ontario

An adjudicator sits at a desk with a notebook.

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 approximately 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 (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 continuously 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 2017-18.

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Table 1: Number of applications received and resolved at each tribunal from April 1, 2017 - March 31, 2018

Website – sjto.ca

In 2017-18, an estimated 829,447 users accessed the main SJTO portal with an estimated 4,006,514 page views. By comparison, the portal had an estimated 770,954 users and 3,609,344 page views in 2016-17.

The percentage of mobile users increased from 27.3% in 2016-17 to 31.6% in 2017-18. Desktop users dropped slightly from 67.2% in 2016-17 to 62.9% in 2017-18 and tablet users remained the same at 5.5%.

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Table 2: Number of users for each section of sjto.ca in 2017-18 compared to 2016-17

* Number of users is estimated. Ontario government users are excluded from these numbers.

Note: The number of users above are those that have accessed the English section of the SJTO website. SJTO has begun to track the number of users that have accessed the French section of the SJTO website and will report on these numbers in the 2018-19 Annual Report.

Email Communication Expanding

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

SJTO Data Inventory Published

SJTO data inventory is available on sjto.ca. 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 31.6% of SJTO web visitors on mobile devices. HTML documents can be saved to a computer the same as any other file format. More than 75% of the PDF documents on the SJTO web portal are now also available 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.

New Online Videos

SJTO has produced new online videos to show what a hearing is really like for both the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and Social Benefits Tribunal.

The videos can be accessed in the HRTO and SBT sections of the SJTO website.

The videos can be accessed through the FAQs, Videos and Guides section of the HRTO area of the website and the Video and FAQs section of the SBT area.

SJTO staff and adjudicators played roles in the videos and provided the voiceovers.

Having videos available makes the tribunal more accessible for everyone, but particularly for people who are visual learners or have disabilities affecting language processing.

The videos are captioned and transcripts are posted in HTML format.

SJTO will be looking to expand the number of videos available in 2018-19.

Case Management Systems

LTB and HRTO are working alongside Justice Technology Services on the creation of new case management system for their respective tribunals.

The LTB is replacing its current system (CMORE) and consolidating a number of related, external applications, including LTB eFile, into a single system. The LTB working group has been mapping current processes and articulating business requirements for the new system that will permit LTB staff and members to input applications, schedule and manage hearings, produce orders and other documents and manage payment and financial information related to cases. Reporting on the data contained within the system will facilitate the tracking of case management activities against service standards and assist the Board in managing its operations.

In January 2018, the HRTO developed a case management system working group that collaboratively worked alongside Justice Technology Services to review case management capabilities, requirements and mapped out all of the current processes in an easy-to-read flow chart, and identified the current capabilities and identified future capabilities that are required in the new case management system. The HRTO is currently in the midst of creating new internal administrative processes. As a result, the working group will reconvene in the fall of 2018, at which time the HRTO will be well-positioned to move into the functional design phase.

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 $1 million 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 are working to complete the new state of the art Co-located hearing space. The new space is scheduled to be ready to use in the fall of 2018.

Professional Development for Members

SJTO has a professional development program for adjudicators and mediators that is unique in Canada by providing ongoing and structured professional development internally and through participation in external conferences, modules and initiatives. 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.

SJTO held its "The Professional Development Institute", a two-day conference for all our adjudicators, mediators and managers, in September 2017. The theme, Nobody Owns the Law, was reflected throughout 4 plenaries and 12 workshops, facilitated by 57 speakers including 29 external speakers. The Institute included:

Twenty nine 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 several members in decision writing. Some of the CFSRB members participated in a training on Indigenous populations and issues. Two CFSRB members also attended the Canadian Youth and Justice Congress to learn about provincial practices, innovations, research and trends that are influencing change in the management of the youth justice system. CICB members came together for training on the significant process changes implemented at CICB with respect to required evidence and hearing format. Many HRTO members watched the webcast of the Law Society of Upper Canada's Human Rights Summit and attended a workshop held by the Ontario Bar Association on best practices for presenting charter challenges before administrative tribunals. Fifteen Dispute Resolution Officers (DROs) with the LTB were provided with initial or refresh training for Above Guideline Increases (AGI) and rules regarding co-op applications and hearings.

Fourteen members attended a Society of Ontario Adjudicators and Regulators (SOAR) leadership program tailored to address the unique challenges commonly faced by all levels of leadership of Ontario agencies and tribunals.

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 from SBT, the Access to Justice Unit (A2J), and the lead for the Indigenous Insight Initiative received training from the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, and attended the First Policy Forum on Indigenous Governance at McMaster University and an applied Indigenous cultural competency workshop hosted by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and the Ministry of Community and Social Services. These opportunities raised their awareness of Indigenous communities and how to be more responsive to the needs of Indigenous people who appear before our tribunals.

HRTO saw a number of new staff join the tribunal in 2017-18. In September 2017, staff were provided with professional development training in the areas of human rights, mental health, and complex case processing/legal issues that arise during the life cycle of a HRTO file.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) provided training on "Human Rights Essentials" that included foundational knowledge on the Human Rights Code and on the OHRC's mandate, activities, and new policies.

The Canadian Mental Health Association delivered a workshop which provided staff with a better understanding of key concepts of mental health and addictions, including prevalence, root causes, issues and options along with an overview of the juncture points between the criminal justice and mental health systems for adults and youth.

SJTO's legal counsel provided staff with in-depth training on complex jurisdictional and preliminary issues, as well as, routine case processing challenges. This training included practical, scenarios-based exercises to promote consistency in the review and processing of HRTO files.

French-Language Training for Bilingual Staff and Members

Two bilingual adjudicators attended the 33rd conference of the Association of French Speaking Lawyers of Ontario (AJEFO) in June 2017, where the focus was on access to justice in French. Bilingual adjudicators also had the opportunity to come together at "The Professional Development Institute" at a French-language services breakfast to discuss the challenges and opportunities in providing services in French.

Staff attended French-language training offered by the OPS to improve French language skills and vocabulary from an adjudicative tribunals perspective. The training provided an opportunity for staff to develop French language competencies, learn about best practices, useful tools and share experiences with French speaking colleagues.

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.

The 2017-18 SJTO Annual Report provides examples of how SJTO continues to work to improve access and support diversity.

Human Resources

SJTO is comprised of both Ontario Public Service (OPS) staff and adjudicators who are Order-in-Council appointees.

SJTO has a total of 365.15 staff as per below.


SJTO has a total of 93 full-time members and 94 part-time members. Some members are appointed to more than one tribunal (see Appendix I for a full list of SJTO members).

Financials

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Table 3: Comparison of SJTO expenditures for the years 2015 to 2018

* Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB) joined SJTO on April 1, 2015.

Table 4: Comparison of CICB awards allocated for victims of violent crimes for the years 2015 to 2018

* The caseload for CICB increased by 10% in 2017-18 resulting in an increase in transfer payments.

In 2017-18, CICB deposited $257,505 in the consolidated revenue fund for monies recovered by applicants through civil actions, pursuant to s.26(5.1) of the CVCA.

Table 5: Comparison of SJTO revenue for the years 2015 to 2018

* The LTB application fees increased on January 16, 2017.


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Child and Family Services Review Board

At a boardroom table, an adjudicator speaks to a couple who are the applicants.

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

Social Justice Tribunals Ontario's Child and Youth Division – Pilot Project

In June 2017, SJTO's Child and Youth Division (CYD) launched a pilot project where applications involving children and youth from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario were streamed to the CYD for processing and adjudication. The CYD is led by the CFSRB's associate chair.

The CYD received and processed 163 applications during the pilot, which included all applications involving child and youth issues filed at the HRTO from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017. Cases were assessed and triaged as "urgent", "fast-tracked" or "normal" depending on the circumstances of each case. This means parties saw their cases mediated or heard faster. For example, if a case was triaged as urgent, parties were offered mediation within two to four weeks of when they agreed to mediation.

A specialized panel of mediators and adjudicators handle all CYD applications. This ensures that child and youth cases are handled by adjudicators and mediators who understand the barriers children and youth may face at the HRTO, and resulted in significant settlement agreements between parties during the pilot.

The CYD continues to process HRTO applications involving children and youth, and received approximately 30 new applications from January to March 2018. The CYD will look to expand to include other SJTO tribunals in the coming year.

Amendments to Correspondence, Forms and Rules

In July 2017, the CFSRB began reviewing all of its application processes to prepare for the new Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017 which will come into force in April 30, 2018, and to create more streamlined and efficient procedures.

All CFSRB communications and forms were revised, using plain language principles, to improve their accessibility and transparency for all users and especially for self-represented parties. The new letters and forms will launch May 1, 2018.

Indigenous Community Outreach

The CFSRB participated in various outreach and relationship-building activities as part of its effort to improve access to its services for Indigenous communities. As part of SJTO's Indigenous Insights Initiative, the CFSRB presented at the Association of Native Child and Family Service Agencies of Ontario annual conference, and the CFSRB's associate chair also met with the Six Nations of the Grand River Social Services staff.

Member training in May 2017 and February 2018 focussed on building Indigenous cross-cultural competency for members. Members were presented the KAIROS Blanket Exercise, an experiential learning module on the history of Indigenous and Crown and Canadian relations as well as current issues, and were provided with Indigenous cultural competency training. They were also presented with training on opportunities for incorporating Indigenous protocols and traditions in their mediations and hearings.

Statistics

This year, the overall number of applications increased by 7%. The number of applications for removal of a crown ward (Sec. 61) increased by 50% and applications of complaints against children's aid societies (Sec. 68) increased by 9%.

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Table 6: Comparison of the number of CFSRB applications from the years 2015 to 2018

Service Standards

SJTO has service standards that establish timelines for items like scheduling hearings and mediations and issuing decisions. Each year, we measure and report on how well we are meeting the standards.

Table

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Table 7: Comparison of CFSRB service standards for hearings from the years 2015 to 2018
Table 8: Comparison of CFSRB service standards for decisions from the years 2015 to 2018


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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, Youth and Family Services Act and the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Statistics

Table

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Table 9: Comparison of the number of CRB applications from years 2015 to 2018
Table 10: Comparison of the methods of resolution for CRB applications from the years 2015 to 2018
Table 11: Comparison of the number of CRB inquiries held from the years 2015 to 2018

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

Service Standards

SJTO has service standards that establish timelines for items like scheduling hearings and mediations and issuing decisions. Each year, we measure and report on how well we are meeting the standards.

Table

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Table 12: Comparison of CRB service standards from the years 2015 to 2018


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Criminal Injuries Compensation Board

A man and woman talk to each other at their desk. In the background, two adjudicators observe them.

What We Do

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB) assesses and awards 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 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

Updated Rules of Procedure

In August 2017, the CICB updated its Rules of Procedure to incorporate the SJTO common rules and to launch new rules on youth access to justice and litigation guardians. In February 2018, the CICB further updated its Rules of Procedure to provide guidance and direction to parties that appear before the CICB and to promote greater transparency in its proceedings.

Case Management Enhancements

In October 2017, the CICB developed new procedures and processes to support improved case management models and to manage an increase in application receipts. Some of these new procedures included development of a streamlined case processing system for applications related to sexual and domestic violence and child abuse, alternative methods of engagement with police services throughout the province, creation of a streamlined anonymized decision format and improved criteria for determining hearing formats. These initiatives were developed with the goal of enhancing victim access to justice at the CICB.

Practice Directions

The CICB developed two new Practice Directions in 2017-18. The CICB's Practice Direction on recording hearings requires the CICB to digitally record all hearings and prehearings. The recording will only be used to produce an official transcript in the event of an appeal. The CICB's Practice Direction on alleged offenders explains how the Board will engage with alleged offenders during its proceedings and the methods in which an alleged offender may participate in a CICB hearing.

Case Management System

In September 2017, the CICB developed updates for its case management system. These updates included improved reporting capabilities, changes to existing workflows to support case management and enhancements to improve system functionality. CICB continued to work with its partners within SJTO and at JTS to develop and test requirements. A new version of the system will be launched in early 2018-19.

Practice Advisory Committee

The CICB continued to connect with its partners and stakeholders in the victim advocacy and justice sectors through its Practice Advisory Committee. The CICB held two meetings in 2017-18 that focused on streamlining CICB processes, discussing practice directions, development of terms of reference, engagement with police services and creation of an e-application.

Criminal History

In early April 2017, the CICB stopped its practice of asking claimants to consent to a criminal records search. This change addresses concerns that the requirement to provide consent could deter victims from applying.

Statistics

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board had a 10% increase in the number of applications received compared to 2016-17. Possible factors that have contributed to the increase in applications to the CICB include, but not limited to, legislative amendments that removed the statutory time limit to apply for certain types of crimes of violence, increase in referrals by police services, expanded public information sessions to victim services agencies, enhanced relationships with the Board's stakeholders through its Practice Advisory Committee.

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Table 13: Comparison of the number of CICB applications from the years 2015 to 2018

* CICB may at any time re-open a case to vary an order for payment of compensation (Sec. 25. of CVCA).

Table 14: Comparison of the methods of resolution for CICB applications from the years 2015 to 2018 *

* CICB may at any time re-open a case to vary an order for payment of compensation (Sec. 25. of CVCA).
** Changes to legislation in 2016 reduced the requirement for extension reviews.
*** Falls outside jurisdiction, duplicate, applicant died. In 2017/18 the CICB changed how it resolves cases that would have been otherwise captured under "Other".

Table 15: Comparison of the number of CICB applications by region from the years 2015 to 2018
Table 16: Comparison of the number of CICB applications by gender from the years 2015 to 2018
Table 17: Comparison of the number of CICB applications by age from the years 2015 to 2018
Table 18: Comparison of the types of CICB hearings from the years 2015 to 2018

* The number of written hearings increased in 2017/18 as a result of procedural case management enhancements which expanded the criteria for determining a hearing format.

Table 19: Comparison of the compensation awarded by benefit type for CICB applications from the years 2015 to 2018

* The increase in pain and suffering awards is directly related to the increase in the number hearings held.

Service Standards

SJTO has service standards that establish timelines for items like scheduling hearings and mediations and issuing decisions. Each year, we measure and report on how well we are meeting the standards.

The Board is committed to processing an application within 11 months of receipt. On average in 2017/18 the processing time from application intake to hearing date was 322 days which resulted in an 8% decrease in processing time compared to 2016/17. Due to a 10% increase in application receipts in 2017/18 the Board achieved its scheduling service standard of 11 months 62% of the time. In 2017/18 the Board developed strategies to manage the increase in application receipts which will translate into improving the Board's lifecycle timelines.

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Table 20: Comparison of CICB service standards for applications and decisions from the years 2015 to 2018


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Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario

An adjudicator sits at a desk across the room from the appellant and respondent and their legal representatives. The appellant's legal representative and the respondent are standing at their desks. A man sits at a desk to the right of the adjudicator.

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

New Case Processing Model

A temporary triage project was launched on August 1, 2017, to address the increased number of applications filed with the HRTO. The HRTO effectively triaged approximately 1300 files during the course of the triage project. Following the triage project the HRTO developed and launched a new team case processing model method that promotes a methodical, collaborative manner in which to address all applications filed with the HRTO on and after March 1, 2018. The new team case processing model supports quicker case processing timelines for HRTO applications, which will result in improved service delivery for applicants and respondents.

Accessible Forms

The HRTO worked with SJTO's Business Solutions Unit to ensure that all available forms on our website are accessible in PDF format in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The HRTO has also been exploring automatic submission options for its forms (e.g. electronic submit buttons). This will allow users to submit their forms directly to the tribunal for processing.

Case Management Conference Calls

The HRTO believes it is necessary and prudent to adopt procedures and practices which offer the best opportunity for a fair, just and timely resolution of the merits of an application. That includes adopting alternatives to traditional adjudicative or adversarial procedures. Case management conference calls are a new and important part of the Tribunal's process.

The purpose of the calls will be to outline what can be expected at the hearing from a process stand-point, address any preliminary or procedural issues in advance of the hearing, and, where appropriate, discuss the potential for mediation/adjudication either at or in advance of the scheduled hearing. Case management conference calls may be scheduled at the time that the Notice of Hearing is sent out.

Decision Review and Release Process

The new process triages decisions on a priority-driven basis. The goal of the new process is to ensure HRTO decisions and case assessment directions are released in a timely manner in accordance with their priority. The process will also ensure the prompt review of decisions that raise new or contentious issues.

Statistics

In 2017-2018, the HRTO experienced a dramatic increase in the number of applications received as compared to prior fiscal years, with a 23% increase from 2016-17 to 2017-18. The HRTO is actively evaluating whether applications are continuing to increase in 2018-2019, and whether the increase is related to particular grounds or social areas under the Code. The increase in cases is putting pressure on the HRTO's administrative and adjudicative resources, and is being addressed through the New Case Processing Model and other operational initiatives.

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Table 21: Comparison of the number of HRTO applications from the years 2015 to 2018

* The average time from when the application was accepted to when the file was closed.

Table 22: Comparison of the types of HRTO decisions issued from the years 2015 to 2018

* In 2017-18, the HRTO issued 1,473 Case Assessment Directions, which helped the parties prepare for the hearing.

Table 23: Comparison of HRTO applications by postal code from the years 2015 to 2018
Table 24: Comparison of HRTO applications by social areas from the years 2015 to 2018 *

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

Table 25: Comparison of HRTO applications by grounds under the Code from the years 2015 to 2018 *

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

Table 26: Comparison of HRTO mediations from the years 2015 to 2018
Table 27: Comparison of HRTO mediation representation from the years 2015 to 2018
Table 28: Comparison of HRTO hearing representation from the years 2015 to 2018

Service Standards

SJTO has service standards that establish timelines for items like scheduling hearings and mediations and issuing decisions. Each year, we measure and report on how well we are meeting the standards.

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Table 29: Comparison of HRTO service standards for hearings and mediations from the years 2015 to 2018

* HRTO's increase in applications has impacted the numbers of days.

Table 30: Comparison of HRTO service standards for decisions from the years 2015 to 2018

* The Tribunal issued a total of 24 Decisions in cases where the decision release standard was 180 days. Of those 24 Decisions, 8 met the standard (33%) while 16 did not. There are various reasons why those 16 decisions exceeded the standard, including the number of parties involved in the hearing, the complexity of the issues, the length of the hearings and amount of evidence heard.


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Landlord and Tenant Board

A member sits at an elevated desk in a hearing room. Across from him sit the landlord and their legal representative at one desk, and the tenant and their legal representative at another desk. Beside the member sits a woman at 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

Since March 2017, the LTB has been holding case management hearings for applications filed by landlords to increase rent above the guideline based on capital expenditures (for renovations, repairs, replacements or additions). During a case management hearing, a dispute resolution officer helps the two sides try to reach an agreement on a fair rent increase. If an agreement is reached, the dispute resolution officer records the terms of the agreement in a consent order. If the application is not settled, it is scheduled for a full hearing before an adjudicator on another day.

Case management hearings have proven to be an effective way of resolving these applications, with an 81% settlement rate at the end of the year. The LTB is exploring the use of case management hearings in the future for other application types.

Accepting Application-Specific Inquiries by Email

In June 2016, all LTB offices started accepting email inquiries from parties about their applications. For example, parties can email required 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 45,581 emails through those accounts from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018.

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 responds to only 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 LTB website, call the LTB, or visit Steps to Justice, an online resource with legal information at stepstojustice.ca.

LTB e-File

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

During the 2017-18 fiscal year, the LTB received 31,002 applications online.

Of the 63,649 L1, L2, T2 and T6 applications filed with the LTB during the year, 47.1% were filed using e-File. This is a nearly 15% increase over last year. In part, the increase can be attributed to the 10% discount for e-filed applications introduced in January 2017.

An average of 74% of e-filed applications were also scheduled for a hearing date online; 76.2% of landlord applications and 34.9% of tenant applications. This is an increase of nearly 7% over last year. Approximately 18% of e-filed applications were filed outside of business hours. 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.

Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) – Prototype

Starting in April 2017, an online dispute resolution (ODR) prototype was developed and tested with internal and external stakeholders. The aim of the prototype development was to assess whether a tool may be developed in the future to help tenants and landlords in Ontario to avoid disputes, resolve disputes without the need for formal legal processes, and enhance alternate portals to LTB services. The goal is for the LTB to provide people with the right online negotiation and mediation tools and processes to resolve disputes as they arise, without the need to travel and appear in-person at a LTB hearing.

Initial testing indicated that both landlords and tenants feel that ODR could be useful as a way of resolving disputes without the need for a formal, in-person hearing. Over the next few years, the LTB will consider implementing an online platform as part of its range of dispute resolution services.

LTB London Office e-File Pilot

In November 2017, landlords and tenants at the LTB Southwest office in London were able to e-File the four most common LTB applications (L1, L2, T2, T6) using a public computer, the "LTB Service Kiosk". LTB e-File allows clients to submit their application and supporting documents, and receive a hearing date at the same time.

People also had the option to leave their application in a secure drop-box at the front counter, rather than waiting to speak with a member of staff at the front counter. As part of this pilot, applications dropped off in-person were no longer processed on the spot; all paper applications were processed in the order they were received.

The goals of the pilot were to increase self-service options for the public, give more people access to LTB e-File, ensure that applications are processed in the order they are received and enable the LTB to redirect staff resources to where they are needed most.

LTB Central Office Electronic Case Files Pilot

Starting January 1, 2018, the LTB Central (Mississauga) office no longer creates paper case files for its 2018 applications. Rather than creating a paper file, an electronic hearing brief is created for the LTB to use during the hearing.

The goal of the pilot is to determine whether the use of electronic case files increases the efficiency and effectiveness of file and hearing room management. The pilot is anticipated to run until June 2018, at which time the LTB will evaluate whether or not to implement this process at other LTB regional offices.

Early Resolution Discussions in the Rexdale Community of Toronto

In partnership with the Rexdale Community Hub (the Hub), the Toronto North LTB office is testing an early dispute resolution process. When landlords file L2 applications that involve tenants who live in the Rexdale community, the early resolution discussion process will be an available option to resolve the application. The pilot started on January 22, 2018.

The goal of this process is to resolve tenancy problems that might lead to eviction without going to an LTB hearing. Tenants and landlords will have an early resolution discussion at the Hub where various community resources are available to assist parties. An LTB dispute resolution officer will guide the discussion.

If the parties resolve all the issues in the application at the early resolution discussion, the dispute resolution officer will draft a mediated agreement or a consent order that sets out what the parties have agreed to and close the application. If the parties don't resolve all the tenancy issues, the application will go to an LTB hearing before an adjudicator without delaying the usual hearing date.

Benefits of the early resolution discussion process include:

New LTB Service Standards

Recognizing that some application types take longer to resolve than others, the LTB introduced new service standards on December 7, 2017. The standards give tenants and landlords a better idea of how long it will take to resolve their case.

The new service standards include:

In its previous standards, the LTB committed to schedule hearings within 25 business days and issue decisions within 5 days, 80% of the time.

Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act

A number of amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act were made this year. As a result of these changes, the LTB updated information on its website, brochures, forms and interpretation guidelines. A number of these changes are noted below:

Changes to Forms

Statistics

In 2017-18, the LTB received 80,791 applications. This total includes landlord, tenant and co-op applications. This volume has remained relatively consistent when compared year over year.

The ratio of landlord to tenant applications has also 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 59% were to terminate a tenancy and evict because of non-payment of rent.

Table

Table

Table 31: Comparison of the number of LTB applications from the years 2015 to 2018

* 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". With the adoption of new service standards the average application lifecycle is 8 weeks, which represents an active caseload of approximately 12,000 applications.

Table 32: Comparison of the methods of resolution for LTB landlord/tenant applications from the years 2015 to 2018

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 33: Comparison of the methods of resolution for LTB co-op eviction applications from the years 2015 to 2018

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

Table 34: Comparison of the number of LTB landlord/tenant applications received by region

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

Table 35: Comparison of the number of LTB co-op applications received by region
Table 36: Comparison of the number and types of LTB landlord applications received from the years 2015 to 2018
Table 37: Comparison of the number and types of LTB tenant applications received from the years 2015 to 2018
Table 38: Comparison of the number and types of LTB co-op applications received from the years 2015 to 2018

Service Standards

The LTB has historically committed to schedule hearings within 25 business days of the date the application is filed and issue decisions within five days after the end of the hearing, 80% of the time. As highlighted earlier in this report, in December 2017, the LTB introduced new service standards to give landlords and tenants a better idea of how long it will take to resolve their case. The LTB will report against the new service standards going forward from 2018-19.

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Table 39: Comparison of LTB service standards for hearings from the years 2015 to 2018

Call Centre

The LTB is mandated by the Residential Tenancies Act to provide information to landlords and tenants about their rights and obligations under the Act. This obligation is met, in part, through the LTB call centre.

Table

Table 40: Comparison of LTB call centre data from the years 2015 to 2018


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Social Benefits Tribunal

A man gestures as he testifies at a boardroom table. The adjudicator takes notes as she listens. Beside the man sits his legal representative and his witness. Across the table sits the respondent.

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. Appeals are heard under that act and the Ontario Disability Support Program Act.

Operational Highlights

Consent Orders for Disability Appeals

Starting January 1, 2018, parties at the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT) can settle a disability appeal during the hearing.

The procedure is very simple. If the two sides agree on a way to settle the appeal, they will be asked to put their agreement in writing using a Confirmation of Settlement and Request for Consent Order (Form 9). This agreement can happen before, during or at the end of the hearing.

The parties will then ask the member to close the case by issuing a consent order. A consent order is when an agreement proposed by the parties becomes an order of the tribunal. If the member is satisfied that both sides understand the terms of the agreement, they will issue the consent order and close the case. In these cases, the member will not make a decision. The consent order closes the case.

Electronic Files in the Hearing Room

The SBT continues its success in working with electronic files. About 95% percent of hearings were held with electronic files in 2017-18, compared to 80% from the previous fiscal year. The percentage will continue to rise as paper applications received before the switch to electronic files in January 2016 are dealt with.

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.

Since the SBT has changed from paper to electronic files, receiving documents by email makes it easier to add documents to the electronic file. Therefore, the SBT has been working with its Practice Advisory Committee (PAC) in having all incoming documents and submissions be submitted to the SBT in an electronic format, effective July 1, 2018.

Email Communication Expands

Email communication continues to expand at the SBT. More than 300 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 2017-18.

The SBT is developing a new practice direction on how to communicate with the SBT. This will include clear rules about electronic communication.

The security of the information shared via email with the SBT is crucial. Therefore, the SBT is testing a secure email platform that will enable users to send information to the SBT in an encrypted and secure way.

Offering email communication 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 2,073 ERO sessions, almost the same amount as last year. The settlement rate was 44%, an improvement over last year's rate of 38%.

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 a few legal clinics.

Because of the success of the program, a year-long, two-phase, province-wide expansion took place between March 2017 and February 2018:

Over the course of the pilot, 76% of the cases were 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 6-7 months for cases that go to a hearing.

The SBT did a survey on March 2018, at the close of its yearlong expansion. The overwhelming response to the pilot was positive, with roughly 90% of participants agreeing the pilot was both successful and should continue.

On this basis, the SBT proposed to continue the program, with a couple of key modifications, as a regular part of its operations. Additionally, the SBT plans to review the effectiveness of the program and provide an opportunity for survey feedback after one year.

Statistics

The SBT received 10,124 appeals, a decrease of 279 from last year. More appeals were completed than received which resulted in the number of pending cases decreasing by almost 500. The average case processing time also decreased from 290 days to 250 days. Due to continued improvements in scheduling practices, the SBT was again able to meet its Service Standard targets more than 80% of the time.

Table

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Table 41: Comparison of the number of SBT applications from the years 2015 to 2018
Table 42: Comparison of the methods of resolution for SBT applications from the years 2015 to 2018

* 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 43: Comparison of the number of appeals by program for SBT applications from the years 2015 to 2018
Table 44: Comparison of ODSP appeals by category for SBT applications from the years 2015 to 2018
Table 45: Comparison of OW appeals by category for SBT applications from the years 2015 to 2018
Table 46: Comparison of ODSP tribunal decisions by outcome for SBT applications from the years 2015 to 2018

* 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.

Table 47: Comparison of OW tribunal decisions by outcome for SBT applications from the years 2015 to 2018

* 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 has service standards that establish timelines for items like scheduling hearings and mediations and issuing decisions. Each year, we measure and report on how well we are meeting the standards.

Table

Table

Table 48: Comparison of SBT service standards for appeals and decisions from the years 2015 to 2018


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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 one appeal in 2017-18, which settled through mediation. The French OSET (TEDO) did not receive any appeals in 2017-18.


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Appendix I: Social Justice Tribunals Ontario Members
as of March 31, 2018

Note: The Executive Chair and Alternate Executive Chair are members of each of the SJTO tribunals.


* Members who left SJTO prior to March 31, 2018 either as a result of their term ending or to take on new opportunities.

Note: Members may be appointed to more than one tribunal.





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