Serious Crisis in Ontario Tribunals

Serious Crisis in Ontario Tribunals

On December 15, Tribunal Watch Ontario issued a news release and background information raising alarm about the crisis in Ontario’s tribunals including the Landlord and Tenant Board and Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, which are part of the Tribunals Ontario cluster. “People who must rely on these adjudicative tribunals to resolve legal disputes are experiencing unprecedented delays, and discovering that justice delayed is indeed justice denied,” they point out.

They note that the latest Annual Report for Tribunals Ontario documents a backlog of 67,736 cases at its four largest tribunals. Of particular concern are the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB), where the delay in getting to a hearing has ballooned from seven weeks to seven months in the last four years with a backlog of 32,800 cases, and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO), where the number of final decisions after a hearing has fallen from an average of 110 a year to just 16 decisions in 2021/22 and a backlog exists of 8,979 cases.

The backlog at the LTB shows that the government’s alleged concern for housing, for which it is passing all kinds of new powers for municipalities to act as arms of the Office of the Premier, has nothing to do with concern for renters who now have little to no timely mechanism to hear their concerns and address the problems they face in housing. It shows how housing and peoples real concerns are used to hide what the government is actually doing.

According to Professor Emeritus David Mullan, an administrative law expert: “Over the last four years, the expertise and independence of several key Ontario tribunals have been damaged, leading to threats to the quality and timeliness of justice”. Commenting on Ontario’s human rights process, Raj Anand, human rights lawyer and former Chief Commissioner at the Ontario Human Rights Commission, comments: “There are now massive delays at every stage of the process, with parties waiting years for their cases to move forward, and for final decisions.”

Tribunals Watch points out “our adjudicative tribunals deal with important disputes that would otherwise go to the courts. Ontario needs adjudicative tribunals that are independent, expert and able to provide fair and timely dispute resolution.

Tribunal Watch Ontario is calling on the Ontario Government and Tribunals Ontario to take immediate action to provide access to justice for the tens of thousands of individuals whose lives are affected by these important tribunals. They have provided a Statement of Concern that can be found here outlining in great detail what is happening and their proposals to address the situation.