The Inaccessibility of Justice in Ontario’s Adjudicative Tribunals: Symptoms and Diagnosis

30 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2023 Last revised: 25 Mar 2024

See all articles by Noel Semple

Noel Semple

University of Windsor - Faculty of Law

Date Written: October 25, 2023

Abstract

Forthcoming, Toronto Metropolitan University Law Review.

Four of Ontario’s highest-volume adjudicative tribunals became seriously dysfunctional in late 2018. Systemic delays of months or years arose, basic procedural rights were abandoned, and substantive miscarriages of justice became common in the fields of residential tenancy, human rights, and entitlement to benefits. This article describes these symptoms, before seeking to diagnose the underlying problem. The proximate cause of the dysfunction was the approach to tribunal appointments taken by the executive branch of Ontario’s government. Members appointed by the previous government were “de-appointed” en masse, and meritorious replacements were not found promptly. Some of these problems began prior to 2018. Shortcomings in the other two branches of Ontario’s government also contributed to the dysfunctionality. The Ontario Legislature’s statute governing adjudicative tribunals, and its committee overseeing appointments, lacked the powers and resources that would be necessary to safeguard them from executive neglect. Meanwhile, Ontario’s courts are not an accessible and proportionate forum to backstop adjudicative tribunals. Moreover, a review of the case law shows that they lack doctrinal tools to hold the Government responsible for systemic delay and counterproductive appointment practices.

Keywords: Administrative law; Access to Justice; Procedural Justice; Residential Housing; Human Rights

Suggested Citation

Semple, Noel, The Inaccessibility of Justice in Ontario’s Adjudicative Tribunals: Symptoms and Diagnosis (October 25, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4613080 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4613080

Noel Semple (Contact Author)

University of Windsor - Faculty of Law ( email )

401 Sunset Ave.
Windsor, Ontario N9B 3P4
Canada

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