Ontario Unified Family Court proposal calls for province-wide expansion by 2025

September 25, 2017
Article Source
The Lawyer's Daily

The Ministry of the Attorney General, in collaboration with Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice, has submitted a proposal to the federal government calling for an expansion of the province's Unified Family Court.

"Our government, along with the federal government, has expressed a renewed commitment to build on the success of the Unified Family Court model during our respective mandates, and expansion of the Unified Family Court province-wide is one of the Ministry of the Attorney General's top priorities," said Emilie Smith, a Ministry of the Attorney General spokesperson.

The Unified Family Court allows all family law issues, whether under provincial or federal legislation, to be dealt with in one court, explained Smith, adding that where the courts are not unified, some issues must go to the provincial Ontario Court of Justice, and other issues must go to the Superior Court of Justice.

There are currently 17 Unified Family Court locations in Ontario, including: Barrie, Bracebridge, Brockville, Cobourg, Cornwall, Hamilton, Kingston, Lindsay, London, L’Original, Napanee, Newmarket, Oshawa, Ottawa, Peterborough, Perth and St. Catharines.

Smith said that over the past several months, ministry officials have worked closely with the leadership of both the Superior Court of Justice and Ontario Court of Justice to develop a consensus-driven proposal for the federal government on a Unified Family Court expansion in Ontario.

"This proposal entails a phased approach. The first phase would consist of expansion to eight court sites, namely: Pembroke, Belleville, Picton, Kitchener, Cayuga, Simcoe, Welland and St. Thomas. These locations were selected based on facilities' readiness, as well as the feasibility of expanding to judicial regions that are already partially unified," she explained.

According to Smith, these eight sites could be implemented quickly once the federal government has approved the province's proposal and resource-related decisions are nailed down.

Read more: Ontario Unified Family Court proposal calls for province-wide expansion by 2025