The HRTO has released a Practice Direction on New Case Processing System and Case Management Conference Calls.
In the last year and a half, the HRTO has experienced an unprecedented 25% increase in its caseload, and receives about 4,500 new human rights applications each year.
To address this increased caseload, the HRTO has implemented a number of initiatives to resolve cases more quickly, including the following important changes described in the practice direction:
- A new approach to case processing, introduced on March 1, 2018, in which a vice-chair (adjudicator) is assigned to a case from the time an application is received to the time the file is closed. Through this new approach, the HRTO closely tracks the progress of the file and identifies what steps need to be taken to move the case forward. (Mediations will continue to be conducted by the HRTO’s part-time members.)
- A case management conference call (CMCC) is held approximately 30 days before the hearing. During the call, the adjudicator will address preliminary or procedural issues relating to the upcoming hearing, describe how the hearing will proceed, and discuss the potential for mediation. Common preliminary or procedural issues that could be addressed include: objections to hearing documents or witnesses; requests for a witness to testify by video or phone or at a specific time; and requests for proper or more specific witness statements.
- Most merit hearings are now scheduled for only one initial hearing day. Because many cases settle before the hearing or during a mediation session held with an adjudicator on the first hearing day, additional days are often not necessary and can be used to hear other cases. If a hearing is held and requires more than one day, the HRTO will schedule these days during the hearing, or soon after, in consultation with the parties.
As a result of these initiatives, implemented on March 1, 2018, the HRTO became more efficient, and was maintaining its caseload by closing as many cases each month as were being opened.
However, the HRTO is currently experiencing a shortage of adjudicators which is affecting our ability to meet our service standards and so you may experience a longer than usual wait before a mediation or hearing is scheduled. Also, some scheduled mediations and hearings are being re-scheduled to a later date.
The HRTO remains committed to providing fair, effective and timely dispute resolution.