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Family Law Inventory

Year Title Jurisdiction Body Responsible Court Criteria and Methods of Evaluation Description Description of Reforms Development Links to Publications Publications Purpose Related Reforms Results Status Subjects Timeline
1950 Alberta Family Court Counsellors

Alberta

Alberta Justice - Family Justice Services

Provincial Court

The Family Justice Services Family Court Counsellor program was reviewed by Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family as part of its evaluation of the Alberta Family Law Act (FLA), with results released in May 2009.

Alberta Justice program providing Provincial Court family law litigants with information, court assistance, and referrals to specialized services.

The Court Counsellor Service provides:

  • Information on options and services for resolving family issues
  • Referrals to services and programs including mediation
  • Information on the effects of separation and divorce on children
  • Help to negotiate agreements
  • Assistance with court applications such as: Parenting orders; Contact orders; Guardianship; Child contact, including grandparent contact; Enforcement of child contact or access orders
  • Assistance with arranging court dates
  • Assistance in presenting the case in Provincial Court.

Services are not yet available for Divorce Act matters and do not include legal advice.

The Family Court Intake Service was made available initially by the Child Services department in response to the negative impact of family break-ups on children. The program has evolved over the years to provide more legal help and proper referrals to more specialized services.

In July 2005, the "Intake and Caseflow Management Regulation" made intake sessions mandatory for self-represented litigants proceeding in Provincial Court.

Survey results and data from January 2004 to December 2007 for the program were analyzed and evaluated in the final report.

The Family Justice Services Family Court Counsellor program has also witnessed a noticeable increase in caseload. Family Court Counsellors [FCCs] perform a number of functions, including orientation and intake when a self-represented litigant is proceeding in Provincial Court, mediation, and in-court support. Family Court Counsellor intake and brief mediation are also potential points at which issues may be resolved and consent may be reached... A notable rise in intakes across the province occurred with the enactment of the FLA, followed by a steady increase to December 2007 - representing a 62% increase from January 2004. The Region, in particular, witnessed a substantial rise in intakes during this period, at 124%. This is likely due to the increasing number of family court locations across the Region where Family Court Counsellors have been introduced since the enactment of the FLA. Edmonton witnessed an 80% increase in intakes during this time, whereas Calgary, though peaking at an 85% increase in January to March 2007, had decreased below pre-FLA levels by December 2007. Despite this, overall provincial trends speak to the importance of Family Court Counsellors as both a dispute resolution mechanism and a support for self-represented litigants (Report at 38).

 
Survey respondents were very positive about the services provided by Family Court Counsellors... [A]lmost three-quarters (72.9%) thought the services improved the efficiency of the family law system, only 7.6% disagreed, and one-fifth (19.4%) were either unfamiliar with the service or had no opinion. Forty respondents made 44 comments, the most common (n=19) being that the service is excellent, and Family Court Counsellors provide access to accurate information and support (Report at 66)

 
Typically, the initial stage of entering into the court process involves completing an intake with a Family Justice Services (FJS) Family Court Counsellor... [A] majority of participants (87.9%) completed an intake with FJS. Approximately three-quarters (75.9%) of those participants indicated that FJS improved their understanding of the court procedures and the options available to them. When asked how FJS improved their understanding, participants commented that FJS provided useful information, provided mediation and support, and assistance with applications and documentation (Report at 96).

 
Family Justice Services Family Court Counsellors are integrated into a variety of stages within court processes and procedures. For SRLs who went to Provincial Court, a majority (82.6%) met with a FCC before their court appearance. During this stage, only 36.8% had the other party present when meeting with a FCC and 5.3% had the other party sometimes present for this discussion with the FCC. The majority of participants (68.4%) who met with a FCC before appearing in court found the discussion with the FCC helped them to better identify issues concerning their application(s). Most described positive experiences in how they were assisted and provided with information on court procedures...

During the Caseflow Conference (CFC), just over half (55.6%) of the participants recognized that a FCC was present in their CFC. A majority of these participants (80%) explained that the presence of the FCC was not helpful in the CFC as the FCC did not seem to be actively engaged in the discussions...

When appearing in Docket Court, 60% of the SRLs had the support of a FCC. All of these participants stated that the presence of the FCC was helpful because of the support that the FCC provided, the information given regarding court procedures, and in presenting the application(s) in front of the judge on their behalf (Report at 105, 107).

Permanent implementation

  • Alberta Justice
  • children
  • family law
  • legal services
  • litigants
  • Provincial Court of Alberta
  • education
  • Court assistance
1950 Established
1978 Mediation Program added
1990s Educational programs for parents added
2001 Transferred from Child Services to Alberta Justice
2005 Intake sessions made mandatory for self-represented litigants proceeding in Provincial Court
1984 Manitoba Justice Child and Family Services Division: Family Conciliation

Manitoba

Manitoba Justice Child and Family Services Division

Court of Queen's Bench (Family Division)

A series of evaluations were conducted on the effectiveness of various different programs: Case Management, Parent Education, and Mediation. Two evaluations were conducted on the Parent Education program and reports were produced with recommendations on how the program could be improved. The mediation program was also assessed.

Manitoba Justice service providing legal information, appropriate referrals, court ordered assessments, counselling, and mediation to family law litigants.

Services to separating/divorcing families are provided to Winnipeg, Eastman, Interlake and Central community areas through the office in Winnipeg and to Westman, Parkland, and northern regions through Rural and Northern Services, Community Services Delivery Division.

Family Conciliation's objective is achieved through the following activities:

  • administration of Family Conciliation services which provide social services support to the Family Division of the Court of Queen's Bench, including information/referral, court-ordered assessments including brief consultation, mediation, conciliation counselling, group programs, Grand Relations and the Parent Information Program;
  • development and monitoring of program policies and service standards across the Province;
  • provision of training, consultation, and leadership in the development of regional services; and
  • consultation with other agencies, professionals and the public.

2007/2008 Annual Report at 81

Services offered include:
  • Brief Consultation Service offers brief consultation for families and children in a shorter time frame, focusing on the input of children ages 11 to 17 in custody/access matters that affect them. Additional information is provided in a consultative format for issues related to time sharing, child developmental needs, parental communication, and other aspects of parenting plans for children of all ages.
  • Court-Ordered Assessments provide comprehensive family evaluations, professional opinions, and recommendations to the court concerning the best interests of children in custody, access, and guardianship matters. This process serves as a vehicle for the resolution of custody/access/ guardianship disputes by providing information that can be used in settlement meetings, lawyer negotiations, or litigation as circumstances warrant. It serves parents, children, lawyers, and the court by recommending courses of action and available resources that may reduce parental/family conflict, which is harmful to children.
  • Mediation is a structured, short-term intervention to assist families undergoing separation/divorce in developing a parenting plan, to maintain a continuing relationship among children, parents, and extended family, and to protect children from parental conflict. This is a preferred intervention for resolving custody/access conflicts. Parents may also choose to mediate financial issues arising from their separation regarding child support, spousal support, and division of marital property. This comprehensive co-mediation is offered in the Winnipeg Region, and on a pilot basis in the Eastman Region. It is called co-mediation because a lawyer mediator and a family relations counsellor are both involved in the process.
  • Conciliation Counselling is a short-term, separation-related counselling focused on parents‟ and childrens‟ adjustment to family reorganization after separation/divorce. Conciliation counselling is also often used for special situations where a quick response may be required or in services such as Intake and Grand Relations.
  • Information/Referral is an intake service. Individuals and families are assisted in addressing issues and identifying possible solutions, informed of community and government services that may be appropriate to their situation, and are referred accordingly. They are also assessed for mediation and other Family Conciliation services and provided with advice and referrals.
  • Parent Information Program, “For the Sake of the Children," educates and focuses parents on the needs of their children in the context of separation and divorce. It is designed to help all separating parents, and is an essential first step to mediation. The program is mandatory for all parties seeking custody of or access to children through the court, including grandparents, other family members and significant others.
  • Children's Therapeutic Group “Caught in the Middle”, assists children ages 8 to 12 who are experiencing trauma, loss, and family reorganization after their parents separate or divorce. This 10-week session is designed for children living in families experiencing severe parental conflict.

  • Just for Teens, is an information group for children ages 12 to 17 whose parents have separated. This group program is aimed at helping this age group to adjust to their parents‟ separation/divorce and deals with family changes, feelings and grief, legal questions, questions facing teens and how to survive the separation of their parents. Peer support is an important aspect of this service.

  • Grand Relations, a range of services for improving access between children and extended family or significant others. These services were developed in response to an amendment in The Child and Family Services Act , and includes the mandatory “For the Sake of the Children” parent information program; First Choice a pilot of an Early Neutral Evaluation service for families requiring a court-ordered assessment; and the Grandparent Advisor. Research was also undertaken to identify best practices/models of alternative dispute resolution services for Aboriginal people to explore options in the possible development of a made-in-Manitoba model.

    • Grandparent Advisor Service was established in December 2006. A Family Conciliation Counsellor is dedicated to provide direct service to grandparents who are seeking access with their grandchildren, as well as to facilitate a monthly support group to assist them through this process.

    • The First Choice Pilot Project provides a confidential hybrid service of assessment, mediation, and counselling to help parents or extended family members to resolve their custody and access issues without going to trial. The service utilizes gender balanced teams and includes the parties‟ lawyers in the process. The service involves two stages assessment and mediation. The parties are provided with a preview of what a court-ordered assessment would likely focus on if the case proceeded to court. The team makes recommendations regarding custody and access arrangements based on the best interests of the children. The service provides an opportunity to settle custody and access disputes outside of court using the input of legal counsel. First Choice became a confidential service midway through the year, based on a recommendation from the initial evaluation of the project in 2009/10. The piloted phase of this project ended on March 31, 2011, when First Choice gained permanent program status.

  • Staff presentations on children and divorce to community organizations, and participation in various community and government committees. Presentations by the Grandparent Advisor to grandparent groups and others interested in Grand Relations services.

2011/2012 Annual Report at 90-91

 

"The Family Conciliation program is delivered through the Department's Community Service Delivery Division, and is the social services component of the Court of Queen's Bench, Family Division. Policy responsibility for Family Conciliation rests with the Strategic Initiatives and Program Support Branch, Child and Family Services Division" (Annual Report 2007/2008 at 81).

The Family Conciliation Services emerged in 1984 when the Unified Family Court was created. Some of the Family Conciliation services were integrated with the Court of Queen's Bench Act which was amended that same year. Since then, various slight modifications have been made, but the service has largely maintained its present form.

A review of family law in Manitoba produced some recommendations which resulted in some changes to the mediation program. The mediation program was expanded with Federal funding through a pilot project. The program proved to fulfil an identified need for families, and the pilot became an ongoing service.

The For the Sake of the Children program was added to the FC service in 1995, and expanded in 1997 after an evaluation. In April 2005, a symposium was held where the judiciary along with the legal community recommended that the parent education program (For the Sake of the Children) become mandatory. This recommendation was implemented on May 15, 2007, and a corresponding amendment was made in the Queen's Bench Rules.

The objective of Family Conciliation Services "is to ensure the availability of a range of high-quality dispute resolution services to families disrupted by separation or divorce, and where ongoing parenting of the children is of primary concern" (2007/2008 Annual Report at 81).

It was found that Comprehensive Mediation resulted in 90% of cases being settled out of court. Regular mediation had a 65-85% success rate. The evaluation concluded that the success of comprehensive mediation can be attributed to the parties' willingness to cooperate and it usually takes place at an earlier stage in the divorce proceedings. In regular mediation, there are a wider variety of factors at play and the parties are often at various stages of their divorce, or have already divorced but are back again dealing with support, access, or custody issues.

As a result of the evaluations, the For the Sake of the Children was expanded from a 3 hour program to a 6 hour program and made mandatory. Furthermore, the Child and Family Services Act was amended to address the needs of grandparents and their grandchildren, and allow the court to order a wider range of custody and access solutions. Flowing from that, the Family Conciliation service programs have been modified to include grandparents and changes were accordingly made to the Court of Queen's Bench Rules on May 15, 2007.

Activities/Highlights in 2010/11
In 2010/11, Family Conciliation Services provided the following high quality services:

  • Information and referral 2,268 clients.
  • Parent Information Program – “For the Sake of the Children” – 6,652 clients.
  • Conciliation counselling services 5 clients.
  • Mediation services 380 families
  • Court-Ordered Assessments 186.
  • Brief Consultation Services 81 families.
  • Children‟s Therapeutic Groups – 26 children.
  • Grand Relations Services 37 families regarding access between grandparents and their grandchildren, 195 information calls, plus 20 regular attendees at the monthly Grandparent Support Group.
  • First Choice Pilot Project 83 families.

2011/2012 Annual Report at 91-92

Permanent Implementation

  • Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba
  • family law
  • legal services
  • Manitoba Justice
  • mediation
1946 Amendment made to the Child Welfare Act which included a provision for five family counselors for the court
1968-1969 Family Conciliation Services transferred to the Department of Social Development
1984 Unified Family Court established and rule changes made to the Court of Queen's Bench Act dealing with procedures regarding the Family Conciliation Service
1992 BC Child Protection Mediation Program

British Columbia

  • Ministry of Children and Family Development - Child and Family Development Division
  • Ministry of Attorney General - Dispute Resolution Office

No evaluations have yet been conducted, however, the Dispute Resolution Office has made it a priority to develop a system of evaluation.

BC Ministry of Attorney General program offering mediation for litigants in child protection cases to save time and reduce the number of cases going to contested protection hearings.

The Child Protection Mediation Program is administered by the Dispute Resolution Office (DRO) and the Ministry of Children and Family Development Child and Family Development Division (MCFD).

The CPMD is based on Section 22 of the Child, Family and Community Service Act (CFCSA) (also known as "section 22 mediation"). Section 22 reads:

If a director and any person are unable to resolve an issue relating to the child or a plan of care, the director and the person may agree to mediation or other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms as a means of resolving the issue.

Parents and the director can choose to use mediation when there is a disagreement regarding the care of a child. It can be used to resolve a number of issues, including:

  • selecting what services will be needed as part of the plan of care;
  • the length of time the child will be in the director's care;
  • the amount and form of access the parent or others have with the child;
  • the specific terms of a supervision or access order; or
  • other matters relating to the care or welfare of a child.

Mediation is an option that may be tried any time when MCFD is involved with a family under the CFCSA, even before a child is removed or after a hearing. A judge may suggest parties try mediation or any of the parties can request an adjournment to the court proceedings so mediation can occur. Section 23 of the CFCSA provides that if the proceedings are adjourned for mediation, any time limit applicable to the proceeding is suspended.

Any of the parties can ask the other parties to participate in mediation. The suggestion can come from counsel, from a child protection team worker, from the child's parents or members of the child's extended family. The child can also request the appointment of a mediator. However, all parties must agree to participate in order for the mediation to proceed. Judges considering a matter under the CFCSA may also suggest the parties try mediation. Mediators are selected from the Child Protection Mediation Roster.

Following in the footsteps of a number of other North American jurisdictions that have turned to mediation, a child protection mediation pilot project was conducted in Victoria, BC for one year (April 1, 1992 - March 31, 1993). Twenty families were referred to the pilot project. An evaluation was conducted which found the pilot project to be successful and recommended its expansion.

The Ministry of Children and Family Development Child and Family Development Division (MCFD) and the Ministry of Attorney General Dispute Resolution Office (DRO) established the Child Protection Mediation Program in October 1997.

An offshoot of the program titled Facilitated Planning Meeting was commenced as a pilot project at the Surrey courts. The Surrey pilot was completed in 2003, and facilitated planning meetings are now offered as a mediation option in most areas of the Fraser region.

One of the main purposes behind the Child Protection Mediation Program was to save time in child protection cases and reduce the number of cases that went to contested protection hearings. Mediation was seen as a tool by which to achieve more effective decisions that are responsive to the needs of children as opposed to the traditional adversarial process.

Permanent implementation

  • British Columbia Ministry of Attorney General
  • children
  • family law
  • litigants
  • mediation
1992 - 1993 Child protection mediation piloted in Victoria
October 1997 Child Protection Mediation Program established
June 2001 - August 2002 Facilitated Planning Meeting Project pilot program in Surrey
1996 Manitoba Case Management of Family Matters (Rule 70)

Manitoba

Court of Queen's Bench Statutory Rules Committee

Court of Queen's Bench

Queen's Bench rule of court designed to reduce unnecessary delay and expense by promoting early and fair settlements in family litigation.

Rule 70.24(10), which outlines circumstances triggering a case conference, was amended in 2005 to remove the triggering mechanisms of an answer and the 90-day expiry date. Under the current rules, the process commences with the courts monitoring a case once a Petition or Notice of Application is filed to start the legal separation process. If a Notice of Motion is filed requesting immediate resolution of an issue and a court date is requested, a case conference between the parties and a judge is automatically scheduled. A case conference can also be scheduled at the request of either party. A 200-day time limit was introduced in the 2002 rules. If no proceedings occur after 200 days from the filing of the originating process, then the registrar will send out a notice of dismissal. The parties then have 30 days to proceed, otherwise the proceeding will be dismissed. The purpose of these time limits is to ensure that case conferences are scheduled and held on a regular basis to move the proceedings along. At a case management conference a Case Management Information Statement must be filed stating what issues have been resolved and what have not. All issues may be resolved at a case conference, or the judge may:

  • request further information
  • refer the parties to mediation
  • refer the parties to a parent education program
  • schedule another case conference

The same judge assigned to a case may continue to work on it until all the issues are resolved or until it is decided the case must go to trial. A case management judge will not oversee the contested hearing unless all parties agree. For cases that do not qualify for case management either because they commence outside of Winnipeg, or began before November 1, 2002 then pre-trial conferences in accordance with Rule 70.26 are to be held.

Rule 70 Case Management originated as a pilot projected initiated in Winnipeg in November 1995. The pilot experimented with the new case management rules by randomly selecting cases. In 1998, an evaluation was conducted of the pilot project in which it was found to be successful, and the report recommended it be extended. The project was expanded first to 20 percent of cases, and later to all Family Division cases.

In 2004, the Family Division Case Management Evaluation was conducted by Prairie Research Associates Inc. Their research indicated that the case management program was a success, however, it was subjecting the system to some added pressure. They recommended alleviating the burden on the judiciary and court staff by modifying the rules to limit their application to certain cases. The essential gist of the 2005 amendments was to alter Rule 70.24 by making the case management system somewhat less mandatory but still discourage undue delay by an automatic 200-day time limit.

The Manitoba Case Management program was designed to reduce unnecessary delay and expense by promoting early and fair settlements.

Permanent implementation

  • cost of justice
  • Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba
  • delay
  • family law
  • rules of court
  • settlement
November 1995 Introduced as a pilot
1998 Evaluation conducted
2002 Full implementation of the program
2004 Second Evaluation conducted
2005 Amendments to improve case management
1997 Alberta Family Law Information Centres

Alberta

Alberta Justice - Family Justice Services

Alberta Justice's courthouse centres providing legal information and referrals to litigants with family law issues.

FLICs are located in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Grande Prairie, and Medicine Hat.

The FLIC provides people with information about:

  • Child Support Guidelines
  • how to calculate child support
  • how to fill out court applications regarding child support, spousal support, child custody or access.
  • how to apply for a change to a Queen's Bench Order
  • how to oppose a family law application

The FLICs, initially called the Child Support Centre, began as a source of information on the Federal Child Support Guidelines when they were first released. The name was changed in 2000 to the Family Law Information Centre.

The Edmonton Centre began with 2 lawyers and 2 judicial clerks providing information to the public and members of the legal profession. The Calgary Centre began with 2 lawyers and 1 clerk.

Over time, the centres expanded their services by developing information booklets, programs and courses for parents, and providing referrals.

In October of 2005, the Family Law Act streamlined the family law services in Alberta. Rather than have separate services for each court, the services were brought together under the Family Justice Services.

The FLICs were established in response to the growing number of family law inquires, and specifically, the growing number of self-represented litigants (SRLs) in the justice system. By providing a source of family law information for people, delays are avoided and SRLs are capable of accessing the information they require for their cases.

Permanent implementation

  • Alberta Justice
  • courthouse resources
  • family law
  • legal information centres
  • litigants
  • public legal education and information
  • referrals
1997 Edmonton and Calgary locations opened as pilots
2007 Red Deer and Lethbridge locations opened
1998 BC Family Justice Registry (Rule 5)

British Columbia

Ministry of the Attorney General

Provincial Court (Family)

The evaluation investigated six issues:

  • 1. Diversion from court: the extent to which Rule 5 diverts family matters from court.
  • 2. Court use: the extent to which Rule 5 reduces the number of court appearances per application filed at court
  • 3. Claims of urgency: whether there is evidence to suggest that parties file claims of urgency with their applications simply to avoid the mandatory triage process
  • 4. Family case conferences: the use and effectiveness of family case conferences to resolve disputes within the court system
  • 5. Case outcomes: the degree to which cases conclude with court orders, rather than consent orders or agreements, in Rule 5 registries and comparison sites
  • 6. Benefits to clients: the perceptions of staff, the judiciary and clients themselves regarding the benefits of the triage process.
Evaluation at 4.

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of Rule 5, an extensive comparison of cases at pilot locations and comparator sites was conducted. Furthermore, files that preceded the rule changes at both sites were compared to files that came after the new rules. A total of 2,800 court files representing nearly 3,400 FRA applications were reviewed.

Additionally, 39 in-depth interviews were conducted with members of the judiciary, FJC's, and court registry staff. A short written survey of nearly 300 clients was used to obtain feedback on the Triage services.

Rule requiring parties to meet with a Family Justice Counsellor for a triage appointment prior to a first appearance before a judge to clarify the options available for resolving their disputes.

[P]arties to FRA cases are required to meet with a Family Justice Counsellor (FJC) for a triage appointment prior to a first appearance before a judge. The FJC helps each party individually to clarify their issues and understand the options available for resolving their disputes. Mediation services are available free of charge to families of limited income, at the triage offices. FJCs may refer parties to mediation or other services; the parties may choose to act on these referrals or request a referral to court. Although Rule 5 makes triage mandatory, exemptions from the triage process are permitted where there is an urgent need for a court appearance and in other limited circumstances.

Evaluation at 3.

On December 1, 1998, the Ministry of Attorney General introduced new Provincial Court (Family) Rules, designed to improve case management and to provide more opportunities for early settlement such as judicial Family Case Conferences. Changes to the rules were made in response to issues related to accessibility and timeliness of the family court process and to the complexity of the family justice system.

One of the new rules, Rule 5, was designed to reduce the use of the provincial court for Family Relations Act (FRA) matters by promoting the use of early, non-court methods of dispute resolution and by reducing the number and complexity of FRA trials.

Rule 5 introduced a new process, informally known as "triage", as a required first step in FRA cases in the designated Family Justice Registries of Surrey, Kelowna and Robson Square. On April 1, 2007, Nanaimo was established as a fourth Family Justice Registry. In these Registries, most parties to FRA cases are required to meet with a Family Justice Counsellor (FJC) for a triage appointment prior to a first appearance before a judge.

Website

The triage process was designed to divert parties from court by providing and encouraging the use of alternatives to court. It was also hoped that triage would help parties better understand their issues and perhaps narrow them, so that court cases - where still used - could be shorter and deal only with issues where the parties continued to disagree.

Diversion from the Courts

Before the implementation of Rule 5, 2-3% of cases did not go to court. After the Rule 5 was implemented, 29% of cases did not proceed to court. The diversion that resulted from Rule 5 was approximately 70% greater than sites without the rule.
 

Court Use

Rule 5 was meant to reduce the number of court appearances by helping litigants narrow their issues. The evaluation found that the number of court appearances were reduced in Rule 5 jurisdictions. There were 1.6 appearances in Rule 5 sites compared to 2.1 in regular jurisdictions. Furthermore, after the introduction of the new rules of court there was an overall reduction in appearances, however, the reduction was more pronounced in Rule 5 jurisdictions. There was a 41% decrease in appearances in Rule 5 sites, compared to 17% in regular jurisdictions.
 

Claims of Urgency

Some litigants try to avoid rule 5 by applying for exemptions. There was a slight increase in exemptions in Rule 5 jurisdictions (1%) as opposed to a 4% decrease in other jurisdictions.
 

Family Case Conference

There was no significant difference between case conference rule 5 jurisdictions and comparison sites. However, judges that were interviewed found them useful in reducing appearances. But they did find that time limitations affected their ability to have case conferences.
 

Case Settlement Patterns

It was anticipated that the number of cases settled by court orders would be reduced with the new court rules. However, there was in an increase of court ordered resolutions in comparison sites. At Rule 5 sites, there was a 5-6% decrease. This was not overly significant.
 

Client Benefits

The triage process was intended to provide information, assistance and other benefits to clients. The hope was that their disputes could be resolved in a less costly manner. Through surveys and interviews, the report concluded that:

Triage educates and informs parties about the family justice process and alternative methods of dispute resolution.

  • Meeting with an FJC for triage helps parties to clarify and/or narrow issues, and consider the other party's issues.
  • Triage has a diffusing effect, addressing the charged emotions that often characterize family justice cases.
Evluation at 8.

Judges also expressed their preference for Rule 5. They preferred the personalized approach as much more effective at handling family disputes than the adversarial process.

  • 93% of survey participants agreed or strongly agreed that going to the Family Justice Centre was useful to them, and
  • 96% agreed or strongly agreed that they were given useful information by the FJC.
Evluation at 8-9.

Permanent implementation

  • assessment
  • family law
  • litigants
  • Provincial Court of British Columbia
  • rules of court
December 1998 Rule 5 introduced in Surrey, Vancouver (Robson Square), Nelson, Castlegar and Rossland registries
May 2001 Expanded to Kelowna
November 2002 Evaluation released
April 2007 Expanded to Nanaimo
1998 BC Parenting After Separation Program

British Columbia

Ministry of Attorney General

Provincial Court

Two evaluations of the PAS program were conducted. A partial evaluation was completed in August 1999, and the final evaluation was released in October 2000. The first evaluation assessed the first two objectives of the program: 1) the extent of cooperation and willingness to participate in the PAS program by clients, and 2) participant satisfaction with the program. The final evaluation report assessed the third objective of the program: "To determine the impact of MPAS on litigation rates in the pilot jurisdiction compared to the impact of offering Parenting After Separation (PAS) on a voluntary basis." (Evaluation at 2)

BC Ministry of Attorney General program requiring families with disputes about child custody, access, guardianship or child support to attend a specialized class before appearing in court.

The PAS program is free to BC parents and other family members or guardians facing access, custody, guardianship, and support issues. The class is three hours long and focuses on encouraging families to make decisions that take into consideration the best interest of their children.

The PAS program aims to provide parents with information on the following:

  • How children deal with separation and how parents could provide support.
  • How parents experience the separation process.
  • How to maintain a healthy parent-child relationship.
  • How to address safety issues which may arise.
  • What options are available to aid the decision making process.
  • How to use mediation and conciliation services.
  • Where to get further information and help.

A workbook is also provided which contains further details on the above topics. It also contains opportunities for self-reflection through a series of worksheets to help plan the next steps.

The program is in effect in Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey, Vancouver, Kelowna, Prince George, Abbotsford, Victoria, Nanaimo and Kamloops.

The Parenting After Separation (PAS) program began as a pilot project at four locations in 1994. Initially, the program was voluntary. In 1998, a pilot project was launched in the Burnaby and New Westminster provincial courts requiring families with disputes about child custody, access, guardianship or child support to attend PAS before appearing in court. As a result of an evaluation report, PAS was expanded to a number of other locations between 1999 and 2000. The expansion saw PAS shift from strictly voluntary to mandatory for certain types of disputes. The requirement to attend a PAS session is described in Rule 21 of the Provincial Court (Family) Rules. In October 2000, the Ministry of Attorney General published a final evaluation report on Mandatory Parenting After Separation (MPAS). The project was generally deemed to have a positive impact on families and the efficient resolution of cases. In 1998, some Lower Mainland communities began to offer PAS sessions in Cantonese, Mandarin, Punjabi and/or Hindi.

The Ministry of the Attorney General introduced the PAS program in response to difficulties faced by the courts, parents, and children in the context of family separations. PAS was designed to assist parents in making informed decisions during the separation process. By addressing the emotional and legal aspects of a separation, the program aims to reduce conflict and educate parents about the advantages of alternatives to the courts.

The August 1999 program concluded that:

[Survey Participants] reported that the PAS session helped them to understand the separation process and how to resolve disputes without going to court. It also helped them to focus on their children's needs. Most said they learned for the first time how the court decides on child support issues, how communication skills can help reduce conflict between people, and what services are provided by family justice counsellors.

Of the participants who completed the survey:

  • Seventy-eight per cent reported they were very or somewhat satisfied with the session they attended
  • Eighty-six per cent said they would recommend the session to other separating or divorcing parents
  • Eighty-three per cent agreed that all parents or guardians going through a separation or divorce should have to attend a PAS session.
Bulletin.

The Final Evaluation included an analysis of the program both before and after the provincial court rule changes which mandated PAS. The results were fairly similar, however, by making the program mandatory, the positive impact of PAS was more marked. Generally, the report found that MPAS resulted in a reduction and improvement in caseflow at the family court. There was also increased awareness of alternative dispute resolution options and the impact of separation on their children.

Permanent implementation

  • British Columbia Ministry of Attorney General
  • education
  • family law
  • litigants
  • mandatory programs
  • pre-trial procedure
  • Provincial Court of British Columbia
1994 Voluntary PAS program offered at 4 locations
1998 Mandatory PAS program pilot project in Burnaby and New Westminster
1999 - 2000 Mandatory PAS program was expanded to other locations in BC
1999 Legal Aid Ontario Family Law Offices

Ontario

Legal Aid Ontario

A formal review of the pilot project was conducted in 2002. 
 

The information needs of this evaluation were addressed through the following types of data collection and analysis:

  • Reviews by a family law expert of the complexity of samples of cases completed by the FLOs and by the private Bar on certificate in Toronto, Ottawa, and Thunder Bay.
  • A telephone survey of clients of the FLOs and of the private Bar on certificates. The main aim of this survey was to measure client satisfaction as an indicator of service quality.
  • A mail survey of the family Bar in Toronto Ottawa, and Thunder Bay. The main goal of this survey was to examine the family bar's perspectives on the quality of the work of the FLOs and of the impact of the FLOs on their communities.
  • Cost data for services provided by the FLOs and for family certificate work completed by the private Bar in the three cities.
  • Interviews with key informants in each location which focussed on perceptions of the role played by the FLOs in local service delivery, the relationship of the FLOs to the private Bar and progress made by the FLOs in achieving their objectives.
Evaluation at i.

Direct service delivery of family legal aid representation in Ontario.

The Family Law Offices employ from 2 to 5 full-time equivalent lawyers, as well as paralegals and administrative staff. Clients must first obtain a legal aid certificate, which they may take either to a private lawyer or to one of the Family Law Offices in Toronto, Ottawa, and Thunder Bay.

...OLAP (as it was then known) was instructed by the Legal Aid Committee of the Law Society (its governing body up until April 1, 1999) to prepare a proposal for a series of pilot projects to test alternative service delivery models. The aim of these pilot projects was to determine whether:

  • The Plan can improve access to services.
  • Services can be provided more cost-efficiently.
  • The quality of services provided can be improved through the exercise of more control over who provides these services and the qualifications they have, and through more intense monitoring of the services clients receive.

In February 1998, the Law Society gave approval for Plan management to proceed with an extensive list of pilot projects in the family, immigration, and other civil and young offender service areas. 

Prominent among the list of alternative service delivery approaches approved for pilot testing in the family law area were three family law staff offices located in Toronto, Ottawa, and Thunder Bay. These pilot staff family law offices opened in May and June of 1999 and were to run for three years, at a minimum.

Evaluation at 2.

Historically, the Ontario Legal Aid Plan (OLAP) relied almost exclusively on the private Bar to provide services to eligible applicants for criminal and family legal aid. Direct service delivery by OLAP staff was limited largely to duty counsel services and to other poverty law services provided through the Plan's clinic system. 

This reliance on the judicare model to provide the bulk of its services in the criminal and family law areas came under extreme pressure in the mid-1990s as the Plan was forced to work within a fixed budget, and the demand for legal aid services rose.

Evaluation at 1.

The review of case complexity established the relatively greater complexity of the Toronto FLO caseload compared to the Toronto private bar certificate caseload, and the essentially equal complexity of the Ottawa and Thunder Bay FLO and private bar caseloads.

The survey of clients supports the general conclusion that, from the clients' perspective, the quality of services provided by the pilot FLOs was at least as high as that provided by the private bar on certificate.

The data from the Bar survey present a generally positive or at worst, neutral perception of the FLOs among private family lawyers in the three locations who have dealt with FLO staff lawyers as opposing counsel. The FLOs are generally seen as improving access to family law services, especially in Thunder Bay. Among lawyers familiar with FLO staff as opposing counsel, most reported perceiving no difference in service quality or competence of counsel.

Service cost contrasts across the three offices were stark. They ranged from well above private Bar certificate costs to somewhat below these costs. Completing family law cases at lower average cost than the current tariff dictates represents a significant achievement, given the current discontent with the tariff. In order for the FLOs to be consistently cost-competitive with the private bar on certificates, high levels of staff utilization and restricting the range of services provided to those typical of the private bar on certificate will be required.

Evaluation at ii.

Permanent implementation

  • family law
  • legal aid
  • Ontario Courts
  • representation
May 1999 Pilot project initiated
2003 Permanent implementation
1999 Ontario Family Law Information Centres

Ontario

Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General

All Ontario courts

Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General courthouse family law information centres, offering information, limited legal advice, and other assistance to self-represented litigants.

All court locations have a Family Law Information Centre (FLIC). A FLIC is an area in the court house where you can get free information and help about issues related to separation and divorce and other family law matters. It is a good idea to get this information before making important decisions.

Guide at 2
The following services are available at the FLIC:

  • Court staff will provide information about the family court; court process; court forms; guides to procedure and how to get a lawyer
  • An Advice Lawyer (from Legal Aid Ontario) will provide 20 minutes of general legal information on family law matters free of charge regardless of eligibility, or case-specific advice to those who qualify financially
  • An Information Referral Coordinator (IRC) will provide information about family mediation; effects of separation and divorce on children; register the parties for free parent information sessions and make referrals to community services. (IRC service is available only at Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice locations [previously known as the Unified Family Court])

The following resource materials are available:

  • Pamphlets and other publications on issues related to separation and divorce and child protection matters;
  • Court forms and Guides to Procedure;
  • Information on community resources; and
  • Referrals to the court-connected family mediation services.*

*In Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice locations only.

Website

Family Law Information Centres were established in 17 unified family court sites in 1999. They were expanded over the next five years to all court locations.

To provide free information and help about issues related to separation and divorce and other family law matters to the public.

98% respondents to a 2001 survey rated FLIC services as "very helpful" or "satisfactory." (Business Plan)

Permanent implementation

  • courthouse resources
  • family law
  • legal information centres
  • legal services
  • Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General
  • self-represented litigants
1999 FLICs established in 17 unified family court sites
1999-2004 FLICs expanded to all court locations
1999 Ontario Family Law Information Centres

Ontario

Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General

All Ontario courts

Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General courthouse family law information centres, offering information, limited legal advice, and other assistance to self-represented litigants.

All court locations have a Family Law Information Centre (FLIC). A FLIC is an area in the court house where you can get free information and help about issues related to separation and divorce and other family law matters. It is a good idea to get this information before making important decisions.

Guide at 2
The following services are available at the FLIC:

  • Court staff will provide information about the family court; court process; court forms; guides to procedure and how to get a lawyer
  • An Advice Lawyer (from Legal Aid Ontario) will provide 20 minutes of general legal information on family law matters free of charge regardless of eligibility, or case-specific advice to those who qualify financially
  • An Information Referral Coordinator (IRC) will provide information about family mediation; effects of separation and divorce on children; register the parties for free parent information sessions and make referrals to community services. (IRC service is available only at Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice locations [previously known as the Unified Family Court])

The following resource materials are available:

  • Pamphlets and other publications on issues related to separation and divorce and child protection matters;
  • Court forms and Guides to Procedure;
  • Information on community resources; and
  • Referrals to the court-connected family mediation services.*

*In Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice locations only.

Website

Family Law Information Centres were established in 17 unified family court sites in 1999. They were expanded over the next five years to all court locations.

To provide free information and help about issues related to separation and divorce and other family law matters to the public.

98% respondents to a 2001 survey rated FLIC services as "very helpful" or "satisfactory." (Business Plan)

Permanent implementation

  • courthouse resources
  • family law
  • legal information centres
  • legal services
  • Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General
  • self-represented litigants
1999 FLICs established in 17 unified family court sites
1999-2004 FLICs expanded to all court locations
2001 Alberta Intake and Caseflow Management

Alberta

Alberta Justice

Provincial Court

Alberta Justice project providing caseflow management to self-represented litigants dealing with matters related to parenting, contact and guardianship disputes in Provincial Court.

The project helps litigants deal with matters related to parenting, and contact and guardianship disputes but does not include disputes related to child support.

Litigants without legal representation meet with an intake counsellor to assess their case. Then they attend a caseflow conference with a coordinator and the other party. The intake counsellor and coordinator explore options with the litigants, facilitate resolutions and make referrals where required. Litigants are also given information on mediation and judicial dispute resolution in an effort to resolve the matter outside of court. The conferences are an attempt to gain consensus on as many issues as possible, and sometimes agreements are struck by the parties at this stage. If the parties resolve their matter, the coordinators can then prepare consent des

k orders for a judge to sign without a trial date. The coordinators have clerk of the court designations, so parties do not have to go to the Law Courts building to file their applications.
 

If the matter proceeds to court, the caseflow coordinator or family court workers will ensure that the parties are ready and that they understand the court procedures. The family court workers also help prepare court applications and attend court and judicial dispute resolution hearings with the parties. This will save time for the court and the parties by reducing the number of unnecessary adjournments.

Just-in.

The program began with a pilot project in Edmonton with the enactment of the Intake and Caseflow Management Rules (Alta. Reg. 163/2001). This was replaced in 2005 with the Intake and Caseflow Management Regulation (Alta. Reg. 150/2005). The program was expanded to Calgary based on its success in Edmonton. (Family Justice Newsletter)

In the past, unrepresented applicants often faced challenges when bringing applications for custody, access or private guardianship in provincial court.

Being unfamiliar with court procedures or not properly prepared for the proceedings often resulted in unnecessary delays and extra appearances for the applicants and the other parties involved.

The new Intake and Caseflow Management Pilot Project will save court time and improve access to justice by providing new and enhanced services for unrepresented litigants in Edmonton Provincial Family Court.

Just-in.
 

Implemented in Edmonton and Calgary

  • Alberta Justice
  • assessment
  • case planning
  • courthouse resources
  • family law
  • Provincial Court of Alberta
  • self-represented litigants
2001 Pilot Project launched in Edmonton
2005 Permanent implementation
2006 Expanded to Calgary
2001 BC Facilitated Planning Meetings Program (FPMP)

British Columbia

  • Ministry of Children and Family Development - Child and Family Development Division
  • Ministry of Attorney - General Dispute Resolution Office

The final evaluation report of the Surrey Court Project's Facilitated Planning Meeting was released on November 2003. "The methodologies for [the] report consisted of analysis of a range of quantitative data extracted from the FPMP database, and a comparison between FPMP cases and a baseline set of protection cases from the same offices, in terms of the time for cases to reach various milestones and a final disposition" (Report at v).

Mediated meetings between parents and social workers to resolve issues in child custody cases in a collaborative manner.

The basic steps of the Facilitated Planning Meeting process are:

  • Step 1: Invitation/referral. Parents are invited to participate in the project
  • Step 2: Setting up an orientation session for parents
  • Step 3: Orientation session for parents and a separate meeting with the social worker
  • Step 4: Information exchange prior to the Planning Meeting
  • Step 5: The Planning Meeting
  • Step 6: Where all or some issues are agreed to, formalizing the agreement.
    Backgrounder

Step 1: Referral Process

A referral to the project may be made by a social worker on one of the participating teams, the FPMP Court Work Supervisor, a parent, the lawyer of a parent, MCFD Director's Council, or a Judge. The aim of FPMP is to make such referrals as early in the court process as possible.

Report at 3

Steps 2 & 3: Orientation Session

Orientation sessions are held between the mediator and social worker (including the court work supervisor) on the one hand, and parents on the other. Depending on the relationship between the parents, their sessions may be held together or separately. Sessions with other parties are possible as well. Legal counsel may attend these meetings.

The purpose is to prepare parties for the planning meeting by discussing logistics and clarifying parties interests, issues and concerns. Information relevant to the safety of the child(ren) is also exchanged. An Agreement to Participate in the planning meeting may be signed at this stage.

Orientation sessions and planning meetings (as discussed in the next section) are scheduled by the FPMP Administrative Coordinator.

Report at 3

Steps 5 & 6: Planning Meeting

The planning meeting is a mediated session which includes one mediator, the immediate parties (e.g. parents and social worker), and the Court Work Supervisor, and can include parents' counsel, counsel for the child(ren), Director's counsel, and other relevant parties. The original expectation was that the meeting would take about 2 hours, and that in some cases a second meeting may be necessary.

When all or some issues are agreed to, a written agreement is created and signed. In some cases this agreement becomes the basis of a consent order. If no issues are resolved, the mediator confirms that the matter will proceed to a hearing.

This meeting is also scheduled by the Administrative Coordinator.

Report at 4

Comparison with Section 22 Mediations under the CFCSA

Section 22 of the CFCSA allows child protection disputes to be referred to mediation for resolution. A Child Protection Mediation Program was established in 1997. The main differences between the FPMP process and other Section 22 mediations are:

  • The role of the Administrative Coordinator is unique to FPMP and provides critical, time-consuming scheduling services to mediators. In Section 22 mediations, mediators are responsible for scheduling all mediation services. (See note concerning the impact of the reduction of this role in Section 2.4.1.) (Note: the Administrative Coordinator position was full-time throughout the life of the demonstration project, and was essential to the timely completion of cases. It also allowed mediators and the Court Work Supervisor time to prepare for the meeting. The Court Work Supervisor reports that the reduction of this position to half time in April 2003 has seriously impacted her preparation time.)
  • The role of the Court Work Supervisor is essential to the FPMP, but is not a feature of Section 22 mediations. This role is described in Section 6.3. The Court Work Supervisor is an experienced social worker whose position is dedicated solely to the FPMP process. She participates in both the orientation meetings with the social worker and in the planning meetings, acts as a mentor or "process interpreter" to the social worker, and is knowledgeable about and has authority to approve services.
  • Section 22 mediations are strictly voluntary. While participation in FPMP is also voluntary, the Court Work Supervisor systematically reviews all eligible cases for referral.
  • Orientation sessions are optional in Section 22 mediation, but are an essential component in FPMP cases.
  • Section 22 mediations can occur at any time when MCFD is involved with a family under the CFCSA, even before a child is removed or after a hearing. The original conception of FPMP cases was that they would normally begin shortly after the court process has been initiated. However, a significant percentage of cases were referred to the project at more advanced stages in the court process.
  • Section 22 mediations can occur anywhere in the province, while the FPMP is restricted to the South Fraser Region offices identified in Section 2.1.2

While these differences are true in general terms, in the Section 22 mediations discussed in Appendix 2 of this report, the mediations were conducted by the same players and in the same manner as FPMP cases.

Report at 4
 

Facilitated Planning Meetings were introduced in 2001 as part of the the Surrey Court Project pilot program, which was continued as a permanent program with Facilitated Planning Meetings now available in some areas of the province. 
 

The Surrey Court Project was an initiative of theChild, Family and Community Service Act (CFCSA) Caseflow Study Committee. The committee was established at the recommendation of the Ombudsman, Dulcie Macallum. In her 1998 report "Getting There: Response to the Recommendations of the Gove Inquiry into Child Protection," the Ombudsman recommended that the Ministry of Attorney General and the Ministry of Children and Family Development strike a committee to explore the reasons for delays in court decisions regarding children and youth.

Backgrounder
 

The prime objective of the Facilitated Planning Meeting is to make effective decisions for children as soon as possible. It provides an opportunity, early in the court process, for parents and social workers to meet and, with the help of an independent mediator, resolve as many issues as possible in a collaborative manner. The social worker is accompanied by a Court Work Supervisor who has the authority to agree to a service plan and approve allocation of resources.

Backgrounder
 

The final evaluation report contained the following conclusions:
 

Data and feedback gathered for this report indicates that the FPMP has been a highly successful demonstration project. It is now an ongoing project within the Fraser South Region of MCFD and has expanded to the Simon Fraser Region. It is being actively considered in other areas of the province as a way of expediting child protection cases, reducing court, MCFD and Legal Aid costs, and contributing to more satisfying outcomes for parents, children and social workers.

The primary conclusions that can be drawn at this point are as follows:

  • The planning meeting process achieves a very high resolution rate, whether considered by overall case (83% fully resolved) or by issues involved (92% resolved). These high rates not only held up throughout the study period but actually improved. Considering the stakes involved and the highly charged nature of these cases, this is a highly significant achievement.
  • Although mediation to achieve consent on a continuing care order was not an original objective in the demonstration project, preliminary evidence concerning post-demonstration period cases clearly points to the effectiveness of mediation of CCOs. These showed similarly high resolution rates to non-CCO cases.
  • When provided with a dedicated administrative assistant to schedule orientation meetings and planning meetings the FPMP process is extremely efficient both in involving a large number of parties (average 5.4) and in expediting cases (69% of cases completed in less than 40 days from referral).
  • Whereas all the baseline cases (47/47) went to a protection hearing, only 14% (5/37) of FPMP cases did so. Instead, in the vast majority of cases where agreements were reached in a planning meeting, the social worker needed only to appear in court for a few minutes on the originally scheduled date, in order to confirm the agreement. This outcome clearly represents a savings in court and social worker time in FPMP cases.
  • Preliminary data suggests that FPMP cases take longer than comparable court cases to reach the presentation hearing and commencement of protection hearing stages; this is simply because FPMP cases involve orientation and planning meetings whereas court cases do not. However, over the longer term (i.e. to a temporary order and, especially, to final disposition) it appears that the FPMP process contributes to an overall reduction in case duration. It will be necessary to await completion of all FPMP cases before the extent and significance of the time reduction can be determined. The main reason for this time efficiency is the FPMP's ability to resolve most matters up to the temporary order stage in the same meeting. This ability in turn springs from the fact that the planning meeting is not just another "milestone event" to be managed, as court appearances often tend to be. Rather they are mechanisms whereby all relevant issues and parties are addressed in a comprehensive and non-confrontational manner.
  • Satisfaction of all major participants in the planning meetings - parents, social workers, lawyers - was very high in interviews conducted in the first half of the demonstration project. Given continued high resolution rates, it is likely that this level of satisfaction has been sustained.
  • Although this study did not involve a cost analysis, data collected by MCFD and reported in Appendix 1 suggests that this process results in costs savings to MCFD. The fact that trial dates are vacated when cases are mediated also suggests that there can be significant savings to both the Court and Legal Aid systems.
    Report at 34

Permanent implementation

  • children
  • family law
  • litigants
  • mediation
2001 Pilot project initiated in Surrey
2002 Project continued past expiration of the pilot period
2003 Evaluation of the pilot project released
2001 Family Mediation Services Program (Nunavut Pathfinder Project - Inuusirmut Aqqusiuqtiit)

Nunavut

Nunavut Department of Justice

Nunavut Department of Justice project providing mediation services to allow families to resolve conflict and move on peacefully as a family unit.

This program is offered to parents who are separating who may or may not be in conflict or who just want to make a verbal or written agreement. It gives parents a chance to sit down and talk about their issues so they can effectively build skills and understand each other's situation better. This program allows couples to hear each other's concerns with out interruptions. Mediation also allows people to see the strength of the other person, and that they love their children equally. In addition, mediation allows parties to build a better relationship and this makes it easer for them to deal with each other. This program tries to teach parents that when they separated they did not stop being parents and they need to continue sharing their responsibilities for their child equally.

2007 Annual Report at 19

General counselling training was provided to the Cape Dorset and Iqaluit counsellors in March 2006, following which the counselling services offered were expanded to include other issues affecting families such as drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and suicide.

A full-time person in the Iqaluit office supervises the community counsellors and provides counselling and mediation services to the residents of Iqaluit. She also provides telephone service to people in remote communities. In December 2006, the Parenting After Separation Program was added. 

Services provided by the Senior Family Support Counselor at the Iqaluit office include:

  • Information sessions for new clients, including how mediation works
  • Providing contact information for lawyers working in Legal Aid
  • Referring clients to professional counselors at Social Services and Inuit Organizations
  • Provide family law information to clients
  • Modified mediations where the Family mediator does separate mediation when needed due to anger, fear, or location issues. This is to promote the safety and equal participation of the separate parties involved
  • Telephone mediations when parties live in different communities
    2007 Annual Report at 21

Case Files at the Iqaluit Office

  • Thirty new files opened between April 1, 2007and Feb 18, 2008.
  • Telephone mediation: 2 files mediated.
  • Separate mediation: 5 files mediated.
  • In same room mediation: 8 files mediated.
  • Referral out to other organizations: 8 files.
  • Client in for information on mediation or other: 15 people.

Many of the clients have stated that the mediation process is better for their situations because it allows them to come to a mutual decision on their children's futures. Many have mentioned that they are happy to have the parenting plans and schedules. They feel that they now have a better understanding of when the children will be with each parent and they have made this decision on their own. Most clients feel comfortable that they can always go back to mediation if the need should arise and that the mediation process has given them confidence in their decisions. The majority of clients say the mediation process has given them a better understanding of each other and helped them to gain better communication skills.

2007 Annual Report at 21
 
The Nunavut Court of Justice had reached a stage in its development where mediation and the incorporation of traditional Inuit justice processes were of interest both in terms of appropriate case management and dealing with the parties more effectively. It was time to examine whether a program that emphasizes cross-cultural values between southern style mediation and Inuit problem-solving practices could be implemented in Nunavut.

Annual Report at 14

In 2001, the Nunavut Department of Justice, with Federal funding, began to study the implementation of a pilot program, Inuusirmut Aqqusiuqtiit, to provide family mediation services in two communities as a pilot project. The vision was that Inuusirmut Aqqusiuqtiit would provide support that allows families to resolve conflict and move on peacefully as a family unit. Two Inuusirmut Aqqusiuqtiit were to be based at each of the centres.

In 2002, the communities of Cape Dorset and Kugluktuk were chosen for the implementation of this pilot project. The pilot program in Kugluktuk was closed in July 2005.
 

In April of 2006, the IA Mediation Program was moved to the Community Justice Program from Court Services. This move was performed so that the program would gain greater recognition for increased funding from the Government of Nunavut. We hired another family program coordinator with the hope that this person could find more funding for the Cape Dorset office, but we were not successful in finding more funding. The Cape Dorset office closed on March 31st 2007.

2007 Annual Report at 21
 
While recent non-adversarial innovations in the Nunavut Justice system have often focused on criminal law, few initiatives have focused on civil or family matters. Backlogs and concerns about a lack of access to family law services have been growing since Nunavut was established on April 1, 1999. The adversarial process of solving any disputes is culturally foreign to Inuit, and it has been found not to be particularly successful.

Business Plan at 5-30
We hope that the pilot projects that will start in some of our communities will be successful in assisting people to resolve their difficulties outside the normal Court system. In Nunavut, it is important not only to provide access to justice, but also to provide access to problem solving resources outside of the formal court system.

2001 Annual Report at 3

Ongoing pilot

  • family law
  • mediation
  • Nunavut Department of Justice
2001 Study into pilot project begins
2002 Pilot commenced in Cape Dorset and Kugluktuk
July 2005 Kugluktuk pilot closed
April 2006 Program moved to the Community Justice Program from Court Services
March 2007 Cape Dorset office closed
January 2008 New mediators hired in Rankin Inlet, Cape Dorset and Cambridge Bay
2003 Nova Scotia Summary Advice Counsel (SAC)

Nova Scotia 

Nova Scotia Legal Aid

Family Court Division of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Legal Aid Summary Advice Counsel provide summary legal advice, primarily to self-represented litigants, on family law matters.

In October 2003 a pilot project was initiated in metropolitan Halifax (Devonshire Court location) whereby summary legal advice was to be provided under the direction of Nova Scotia Legal Aid in the Family Division of the Supreme Court...In April 2004 the service was established at the Family Division in Sydney (Sydney Justice Centre location) whereby the counsel was under secondment to Court Services from Nova Scotia Legal Aid. In this initiative special funding was secured for two years from the Department of Justice Canada in response to a proposal jointly submitted by NSLA and Court Service Nova Scotia...

While the two projects differ in terms of funding arrangements and organization context for the SAC role, in each case, counsel provides legal advice with respect to the Maintenance and Custody Act, the 'Divorce Act', the Matrimonial Property Act, pension legislation and so forth.

The report summarizing the findings of the assessment contained the following conclusions:
 

There is little question but that the SAC service has met with much favour by stakeholders of all stripes as well as by virtually all its client users. All the stakeholders in the court system, and outside it, who knew much about SAC considered it a valuable addition to the Family Court. Those who knew little became quite enthusiastic when informed about how the SAC service works. The SAC role has been implemented as intended as free, summary-level, legal advice accessible to all persons otherwise unrepresented. Its defining features (short sessions, FPP, no courtroom presence, focus on legal concerns) have indeed characterized its implementation. It has realized its central objective of assisting the unrepresented as witness its penetration rate and the views of clients as well as conciliators and judges and, for many, if not most, clients it has provided the only legal counsel that they would have received. While not especially impacting on the engagement of other legal representation or on the quantity of court activities (i.e., the court workload), in the eyes of the SAC lawyers and the testimony of the other court role players, it has improved the efficiency and effectiveness of court processing. Its availability has provided relief to clients and court officials who otherwise would have quite stressed in responding to the unrepresented persons and their needs and demands. The thought of discontinuing the SAC initiative, especially without any profound reconfiguration of legal aid, is something that filled virtually all interviewees with dread.

There were some differences in the SAC service by site but overall the commonalities were much more pronounced. There is little question that SAC has effected a court system that is more effective, efficient and equitable (the so-called 3Es in social policy). At the same time it is important to appreciate that the SAC is a limited resource. There is still a very significant problem concerning the unrepresented litigant in Family Court. There is still more that can and should be done in achieving the 3Es, especially reaching out to community agencies and to diverse minority groups whether aboriginal or immigrants.) but, as noted above, a case can readily be made that SAC has certainly facilitated the more active client's pursuit of the available opportunities for justice and problem-solving in Family Court... Overall, then, while clearly the evidence underlines the crucial contributions of SAC for both clients and the court system, it is important to be realistic - as many judges have indicated, the problem of adequate legal counsel may have gone from a ten to an eight, and as community agencies and others have noted, the contribution to a more holistic, problem-solving court has been quite modest.

Report at 105

Concerns and Recommendations

The following concerns were raised and recommendations made in the report:

  • Promotion and awareness: public awareness of SAC and the appreciation of the SAC role among the court role players could be improved
  • First past the post: a concern was raised that one party in a dispute can manipulate the situation to effectively shut the other party out from any free legal advice, as SAC lawyers cannot give legal advice to both parties
  • More SAC: many of the clients expressed a need for an extension of the SAC service
  • Targeting of narrower, needier client base: as there are no restrictions on accessing the services, the assessment showed that SAC is much used by people who could turn to other sources for legal advice

Permanent Implementation in Halifax and Sydney

  • duty counsel
  • family law
  • legal advice
  • legal aid
  • self-represented litigants
imeline  
October 2003 SAC implemented in Halifax
April 2004 SAC implemented in Sydney
July 2006 Evaluation Report released
2004 BC Family Mediation Practicum Project

British Columbia

BC Dispute Resolution Practicum Society

Provincial Court of British Columbia (New Westminster Registry)

BC Dispute Resolution Practicum Society project to provide free mediation services from new mediators for family disputes about custody, access, guardianship, child support, and simple property matters.

The Project provides free mediation services for family disputes about custody, access, guardianship, child support, and simple property matters.

The Project was initiated as a means of providing trained, but inexperienced family mediators with more opportunities to practice their skills. In particular, it was intended as a way of meeting the specialized training requirements in family mediation, and of supervising mediators as they learn to manage the unique circumstances characterizing family disputes within the mediation process. At the same time, and in this context, family clients were to be provided with high quality mediation services.

Report at i

Each mediator is guided by a senior, highly trained mediator (or mentor), who assists the mediator to prepare for and conduct each session.

The Family Mediation Practicum Project has been operating in New Westminster since January 2004. It is funded by the Law Foundation of BC and the BC Ministry of Attorney General and is administered by the BC Dispute Resolution Practicum Society, a non-profit society.

 

Results of an evaluation of the Family Mediation Practicum Project were released in June 2005. The Report concludes that:

[T]he Family Mediation Pilot Project has clearly been a success. It has been both client-centred and appropriate in tailoring its operations to the needs of its clientele. Its structural or operational features, as well as program outcomes, have been declared a practical success. Finally, its relationships with other family justice agencies and practitioners have been collaborative and constructive, building a firm foundation upon which the Project can build a place in the family justice and mediation communities.

The Practicum Project has successfully achieved all four of the objectives articulated in connection with the project goal. As a test of a delivery model in which mediators practice their skills under the supervision of senior mediators, it has been found to be a highly effective way of providing mediators with practical experience in mediating family disputes. At the same time, high quality mediation services have been delivered to family clients - in an environment in which they feel safe, and able to participate fully in the mediation process.

Exceptionally high satisfaction ratings were reported by both of the client groups the Practicum Project serves: practicum mediators and mediation clients. Additionally, innovations such as "fast tracking" 1st joint mediation sessions, imposing a 3-session limit on mediation, and a draft or evolving Memorandum of Understanding have achieved both efficiencies and improved mediation outcomes. The biggest challenges to the Project lie largely in its external operating environment. Although gradually changing, conditions are not particularly supportive for mediation as a favoured option in dispute resolution - with the consequence that many of those who have an interest in the practice of mediation must pursue it without any particular hope of a return on their investment in it.

Obtaining ongoing, sustainable funding of the fixed cost component of the Project is a continuing source of concern. Funding agencies can, however, be assured that the Project has been cost-effective, and has contributed to our knowledge of best practices both in mediation practicum programs and, more generally, family mediation. It has, as well, been an excellent example of partnership between a government and non-profit organization - the BC Dispute Resolution Practicum Society and the Dispute Resolution Office of the Attorney General's Ministry have worked together very successfully to produce a very high-quality service. If a decision is made to confirm the Family Mediation Practicum Project as a continuing program, it can be expected that this program will make a positive contribution to the infrastructure for collaborative approaches in dispute resolution within the province.

Permanent implementation

  • alternative dispute resolution providers
  • education
  • family law
  • mediation
January 2004 Project launched as a pilot at New Westminster Registry
June 2005 Results of evaluation released
June 2005 Project made permanent
2005 Nova Scotia Family Law Information Centres (FLICs)

Nova Scotia

  • Nova Scotia Department of Justice
  • Supreme Court, Family Division

Supreme Court (Family Division)

Information centres for self-represented litigants with family law issues located in the courthouses.

FLICs offers free legal information and occasional sessions related to family law issues. Legal advice is not provided.
 
FLIC goals are to:
  • offer information about court processes, legal topics, and court services
  • develop and offer family law information clinics
  • make referrals to community agencies and programs
  • offer computer access
You can get information at a FLIC about:
  • court processes and forms
  • how to find a lawyer
  • alternatives to court
  • effects of separation and divorce on children
  • community resources
FLIC staff can:
  • help you understand the court process
  • provide you with court forms
  • help you find free information about your particular legal issue
  • explain how to get your own lawyer
  • refer you to services and resources in your community (Website)

 

In March 2004, Nova Scotia Department of Justice, Court Services as part of a Needs Assessment Study on Self-Represented Litigants made a recommendation (Recommendation #20) that "Departmental support, including allocation of resources, [be provided] for the creation of an information centre for self-represented litigants at the Halifax site of the Supreme Court (Family Division) in the immediate future" (SRL Report at 50).

Following this recommendation, Family Law Information Centres (FLICs) were opened in 2005 on a pilot basis at the Family Courts in Sydney and Halifax. It is a joint project of the Nova Scotia Department of Justice and the Supreme Court, Family Division.

Enhance the effectiveness, efficiency of and access to courts.

Ongoing pilot

  • courthouse resources
  • family law
  • legal information centres
  • public legal education and information
  • self-represented litigants
  • Supreme Court of Nova Scotia
March 2004 SRL Report released
January 2005 FLIC opened in Sydney
April 2005 FLIC opened in Halifax

 

2007 Yukon Family Law Case Conferences (Practice Direction 40)

Yukon

Supreme Court of Yukon

Practice directive mandating judicial case conferences providing information to family law litigants on available alternative dispute resolution procedures and allowing parties to discuss the appropriate procedure for their case.

This practice direction applies to all family law proceedings including a divorce petition or any proceeding where a claim for custody, access, child support or property division is made. It requires a family law case conference to be held with a judge within 60 days of the date of service of the proceeding, except in those cases that are exempt. Failure to hold a family case conference within 60 days may result in an application being struck or adjourned by the presiding judge (Practice Direction at 1).

An exemption from the requirement that a family law case conference be held can be granted by a judge (either upon an application, or without it):

  • where each party is represented by a lawyer and the lawyers agree that a conference is not required;
  • where there is a lawyer representing the claimant/applicant and the other party does not file an appearance
  • where there has been a history of violence or abuse and a party requests that there be no conference, or that each party have a separate conference;
  • where there is urgency or convenience.

The purpose of the family law case conference is to:

  • consider alternative procedures of private mediation, collaborative practice, judicial mediation, settlement and arbitration
  • consider some of the well-established principles of custody, child support, spousal support and property division
  • identify and narrow the issues
  • set timelines where appropriate.

Following the case conference, the judge may make any order that could be made under Rule 35 for pre-trial conferences. The judge may also:

  • appoint a single expert to report on financial and property issues;
  • order substituted service, interim interim or interim custody and child support, financial disclosure, preservation of property and other orders that may be appropriate based upon affidavit evidence, where matters are unopposed or uncontested;
  • recommend that a custody and access report be prepared or that a Child Advocate be appointed.

Practice Direction No. 40, governing family law case conferences, came into effect on May 1, 2007.

"[T]to ensure that all parties are aware of the alternative dispute resolution procedures that are available and to discuss the appropriate procedure for the particular case" (Practice Direction at 1).

Permanent Implementation

  • alternative dispute resolution
  • case conferences
  • family law
  • litigants
  • mandatory programs
  • practice directives
  • Supreme Court of Yukon
May 1, 2007 Practice Direction 40 took effect

 

2007 Yukon Family Law Information Centre

Yukon

Yukon Department of Justice

Yukon Department of Justice's courthouse centre offering legal information to self-represented litigants with family law issues.

The FLIC is accessible to all self-represented litigants in family law matters, and provides information about "filing for divorce and child support guidelines as well as referral information about other family law matters including adoption, adult guardianship, family violence, Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP), and family law court procedures." (Website) It does not provide legal advice or representation.

Resources include the website, a resource centre in the Whitehorse Law Courts Building, and a Yukon-wide toll free helpline.

Services offered:

  • information on family law
  • various publications on family law matters, including self-help guides
  • calculation of child support, spousal support and the standard of living test
  • some help with completing court forms
  • computers for public use to research family law matters and to access and prepare court forms
  • notarization of court forms
  • referrals to other organizations and agencies
  • lending library of books and videos on family law issues

The FLIC was opened on November 30, 2007 by the Yukon Department of Justice, after conducting a feasibility study in 2004 and 2005.

To facilitate Yukoners' ability to access justice by providing information about family law procedures and allow matters to be resolved faster.

Permanent implementation

  • courthouse resources
  • family law
  • legal information centres
  • public legal education and information
  • self-represented litigants
  • Yukon Department of Justice

 

November 2007 FLIC opened

 

2008 Manitoba First Choice Dispute Resolution Pilot Project

Manitoba

Family Conciliation, Manitoba Department of Family Services and Housing

A Government of Manitoba pilot project offering mediation and information services to families experiencing separation and divorce.

First Choice has been developed to help parents understand the likely outcome of a traditional court-ordered assessment. The Family Court can refer parents and other family members, (hereinafter called "parent") who are having trouble reaching agreement on custody, access and private guardianship issues. First Choice can also provide follow-up assistance to the families it served, to address subsequent issues and concerns.

The First Choice pilot project involves two distinct phases:

 

1. Assessment Phase:

As soon as possible after the referral is made to Family Conciliation, both parents and possibly their lawyers, meet with a First Choice team. Each team has a male and female counsellor, experienced in evaluation and mediation. Both parents have the opportunity to describe their view of the family situation and state what they are hoping for from the court.

After the team has heard both parents and asked questions, there is a break while the team meets to discuss the case. The team then presents their opinion about what a court-ordered assessment would likely recommend, based on the parties' particular circumstances. Both parents have an opportunity to review the information with their lawyers. If a party's lawyer is not present at the assessment, the party can call their lawyer. This is arranged by the counselling team.
 

2. Mediation Phase:

If not all concerns are resolved after phase one, additional meetings can be held to mediate them. These meetings include both parents and may or may not include lawyers. The children may also be interviewed. All information brought up during the mediation is confidential and cannot be used in court.

The feedback presented to the parents by the First Choice team in phase one is given, in writing, to the Family Court judge. The team also provides a notification that a parenting agreement has been reached, or the team's recommendations and options for resolving the conflict.

The pilot project's goal is to have the assessment and mediation completed within three to four sessions. The first session typically takes up to three hours, but subsequent sessions may average 60-90 minutes depending on individual circumstances with the full process completed within 30 - 35 working days from the first session.

First Choice can also provide follow-up mediation assistance to help families resolve issues that subsequently arise.

First Choice was launched in Winnipeg as a pilot project in August 2008 to offer mediation and information services to families experiencing separation and divorce.

Ongoing pilot project

  • assessment
  • evaluation
  • family law
  • government
  • mediation
  • pilot projects
Date Event
2008 Manitoba First Choice Dispute Resolution Pilot Project

Manitoba

Family Conciliation, Manitoba Department of Family Services and Housing

A Government of Manitoba pilot project offering mediation and information services to families experiencing separation and divorce.

First Choice has been developed to help parents understand the likely outcome of a traditional court-ordered assessment. The Family Court can refer parents and other family members, (hereinafter called "parent") who are having trouble reaching agreement on custody, access and private guardianship issues. First Choice can also provide follow-up assistance to the families it served, to address subsequent issues and concerns.

The First Choice pilot project involves two distinct phases:

 

1. Assessment Phase:

As soon as possible after the referral is made to Family Conciliation, both parents and possibly their lawyers, meet with a First Choice team. Each team has a male and female counsellor, experienced in evaluation and mediation. Both parents have the opportunity to describe their view of the family situation and state what they are hoping for from the court.

After the team has heard both parents and asked questions, there is a break while the team meets to discuss the case. The team then presents their opinion about what a court-ordered assessment would likely recommend, based on the parties' particular circumstances. Both parents have an opportunity to review the information with their lawyers. If a party's lawyer is not present at the assessment, the party can call their lawyer. This is arranged by the counselling team.
 

2. Mediation Phase:

If not all concerns are resolved after phase one, additional meetings can be held to mediate them. These meetings include both parents and may or may not include lawyers. The children may also be interviewed. All information brought up during the mediation is confidential and cannot be used in court.

The feedback presented to the parents by the First Choice team in phase one is given, in writing, to the Family Court judge. The team also provides a notification that a parenting agreement has been reached, or the team's recommendations and options for resolving the conflict.

The pilot project's goal is to have the assessment and mediation completed within three to four sessions. The first session typically takes up to three hours, but subsequent sessions may average 60-90 minutes depending on individual circumstances with the full process completed within 30 - 35 working days from the first session.

First Choice can also provide follow-up mediation assistance to help families resolve issues that subsequently arise.

First Choice was launched in Winnipeg as a pilot project in August 2008 to offer mediation and information services to families experiencing separation and divorce.

Ongoing pilot project

  • assessment
  • evaluation
  • family law
  • government
  • mediation
  • pilot projects
Date Event
2009 BC Distance Mediation Project

British Columbia

B.C. Mediator Roster Society

BC Mediator Roster Society project to provide communication technology for family mediation with non-urban individuals.

In this Project, mediations are held using current information and communication technologies. Experienced family mediators use these technologies to bring families together for the mediation, rather than meeting in-person. There are many technologies families can choose from, including telephone, e-mail, videoconferencing and webconferencing. 

To be eligible for the Project's free mediation services, at least one of the participating family members must live in a non-urban community of British Columbia with a population less than 10,000. The issue(s) to be resolved must relate to separation or divorce in British Columbia. These include issues relating to parenting, financial support, and small or large family property matters. Everyone participating must agree to use technology for the mediation...

Up to six hours of mediation services are available to eligible families at no charge, provided the issues to be resolved are appropriate to mediate using information and communication technologies.

The Distance Mediation Project, was run by the B.C. Mediator Roster Society and funded by the Law Foundation of British Columbia, it offered free family mediation services to eligible families living in non-urban areas of British Columbia. The project ran between May 1, 2011 – May 15, 2012.

The project's goal was to find out how technology can best be used to provide high quality mediation services to families - especially families living in non-urban areas.   It also assisted family mediators by allowing them to  gain new knowledge about how they can use different technologies to help families work out their disagreements.

Completed

  • family law
  • information and communication technologies
  • mediation
  • alternative dispute resolution
May 15, 2012 Mediation services ended
May 1, 2011 Mediation services were offered
May 31, 2009 Pilot Project launched
2009 Manitoba Family Law Access Centre (FLAC)

Manitoba

Law Society of Manitoba

Law Society of Manitoba pilot project that will provide reduced-cost representation to litigants who do not qualify for legal aid to assist them with their family law cases.

The LSM will act as a brokerage house in family law matters by buying legal services at a discount from private bar lawyers and then making them available to those in the middle of the socio-economic spectrum, provided they meet certain financial criteria. The LSM will also handle client billing and will guarantee payment to participating lawyers, eliminating a major administrative headache...

Before would-be clients can avail themselves of the lawyers participating in FLAC, they will be subject to a full financial assessment, including an examination of their income, debts, assets, tax returns, family size and number of dependents. If they land in the appointed range, they'll be accepted into the program. If they fall below, they'll be referred to legal aid and if they make too much money, they'll be asked to hire a lawyer on their own.

 

Lawyers Weekly

 

The Law Society of Manitoba has approved the creation of The Family Law Access Centre (FLAC), which is expected to be up and running early in 2010. The budget for the pilot project has been set at $250,000. FLAC will service the middle class - those who do not qualify for legal aid, but cannot easily afford legal services to assist them with their family law cases, such as divorce, child custody and spousal support.

To improve the accessibility of legal services in family law cases to the middle class.

Pilot Project

  • family law
  • law societies
  • litigants
  • low-income persons
  • pilot projects
  • representation
2010 Consultation Paper: Civil Rights in Saskatchewan Long-term Care Facilities

Saskatchewan 

Law Reform Commission of Saskatchewan

There is little doubt that abuse is a potential problem in long-term care facilities. Studies across Canada have shown that abuse occurs, and that active measures are necessary to control it. Saskatchewan long-term care facilities are aware of abuse issues. Almost all have protocols to deal with abuse, and most have educational programs to familiarize staff with the problem of abuse. It is not the purpose of this paper to review these efforts in detail. The focus is, rather, on violations of the rights of residents, particularly when they do not involve physical abuse, and particularly when they may not be effectively addressed by existing protocols designed to deal with more blatant forms of abuse.

The purpose of this paper is to encourage discussion, and to solicit input from members of the community. The Commission hopes that respondents will assist it in clarifying civil rights concerns in long-term care, and help it to articulate appropriate steps which should be taken to ensure protection of civil rights of residents.

The issues and question raised in this paper are difficult. They are also important enough to warrant our collective attention. We should, through the long-term care system we create, provide the highest quality of life that we can for residents. Compassionate and caring long-term care homes and their staff, as well as residents and their families, are well served when we provide appropriate structures for enunciating and safeguarding the civil rights of residents in long-term care.

This consultation paper is intended to provide background for a discussion about ways to protect the rights of residents in long-term care. The questions for consideration set out below are intended to help focus the discussion, but are hardly exhaustive of the issues raised here.

1. Are protections for the civil rights of residents in long-term care (special care and personal care homes) adequate at present?

2. Should a residents’ bill of rights be required for all long-term care homes? If so, should it be legislated, or should each facility be required to adopt its own bill of rights?

3. Should investigation of complaints of abuse (including violations of civil rights) be mandatory? If so, should an independent investigative agency be designated to investigate, recommend, and direct remedies for abuse?

4. Should an independent advocate to represent residents and their interests be created? 

 

Completed

  • Long term care facilities 
  • Elder abuse
  • Older persons
  • Personal care homes

 

2010 The Matrimonial Property Act: A Case Law Review

Alberta

Alberta Law Reform Institute 

 

  • This summary was created on 2012-07-11
  • It was last reviewed to ensure accuracy on 2012-07-11

The Alberta Law Reform Institute proposed the legislation that became the Matrimonial Property Act (MPA) more than 30 years ago and there has been no substantive amendment to the MPA since then. ALRI has received suggestions that the legislation is in need of revision but there was little consensus as to which areas were in need of review. In order to advance the research, ALRI financed the work of Annie Voss-Altman, a student at the Faculty of Law, University of Calgary, under the supervision of Professor Jonnette Watson Hamilton. It was hoped that their 10 year review of judicial decisions would identify any areas where reform would clarify policy or resolve problematic issues. ALRI’s Director reviewed the initial sample cases and the categories contained in the database.

The purpose of this case law review was to identify the most frequently raised and the most troublesome issues that the courts dealt with in order to determine whether revisions to the MPA might be necessary. In addition, we identified rules and presumptions that have been used by the courts to supplement the MPA as their existence might point to gaps in the legislation. 

"We have prioritized what we see as the six major issues, but we also mention seven other issues. Issues are classified as “major” when they arise frequently, have multiple sub-issues, and have no obvious or easy solutions. We put the other issues in a separate category when their resolution appears to be easier, or a matter for the federal government, or already under investigation by a law reform organization, or fewer people appear to be affected. "

Completed

Family law

2010 Vancouver Justice Access Centre Self-help and Information Services (previously BC Supreme Court Self-Help Information Centre)

British Columbia

Collaboration between government and non-governmental bodies

BC Supreme Court, Civil and Family divisions

Evaluation objectives flowing from project objectives can be itemized as follows:

  • To determine the degree to which the centre assists users to access information, education and referrals services.
  • To determine the effectiveness of the centre service delivery model including the collaborative and consultative structure to which government and community partners contribute.
  • To identify effective practices and/or any barriers in the implementation of the project that can inform future program implementation.
  • To determine the degree to which the Centre, by increasing unrepresented litigant's access to justice, also facilities efficiencies in the court system.
  • Qualitative information was gathered in 116 interviews carried out during the project, including 35 interviews with SHC users (Final Evaluation at 13, 8).

Self-help centre for unrepresented litigants offering advice, information, and education about procedures in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
The Supreme Court Self-Help Information Centre is now part of the Vancouver Justice Access Centre, where self-help and information services are provided. This has led to a wider range of civil law information and self-help topics, as well as references to services that are available through the Vancouver Justice Access Centre.

Over the past five to ten years, unrepresented litigants have emerged as an identifiable target group for services. In response to the increasing number of unrepresented litigants, justice system partners began the Developing Models for Coordinated Services for Self-Representing Litigants project in the spring of 2004.

Government and non-government agencies collaborated in designing the Centre and determining the services that would help unrepresented litigants.... The pilot project received funding from the Law Foundation of BC, the Vancouver Foundation, and the Ministry of Attorney General. It also received extensive contributions of technical expertise, staff resources, and products from all the participating agencies, both government and non-government (Final Evaluation at 12-13).

The purpose of the pilot project was to design a self-help centre (SHC) for unrepresented litigants that would facilitate access to justice by offering advice, information, and education about procedures in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. SHC services comprise of a range of resources developed by partnering organizations as well as the in-person service delivered by the two staff who work at the physical location. The office is open for walk-in service and there is no financial eligibility test for accessing services and resources. Although the Centre's purpose is to provide services to unrepresented litigants in its Vancouver location, services are offered to all walk-ins, regardless of where their Supreme Court case originates (Final Evaluation at 6).

Interview data shows that the centre was providing a unique set of self-help services and was forming part of a larger context of emerging services for unrepresented litigants.

Users reported the centre as largely effective in satisfying their needs and in helping them prepare for court. In addition, the centre was seen as effective in connecting users to appropriate services through referrals. Through these actions, the centre was also seen to yield efficiencies at the level of court proceedings and the operation of the registry (Final Evaluation at 8).

Ongoing collaboration

  • court assistance
  • legal information centres
  • public legal education and information
  • self-represented litigants
  • Supreme Court of British Columbia
  • family law
  • alternative dispute resolution
April 2005 Pilot project commenced
April 2006

Program funded for 2006-2007

June 2010

The Supreme Court Self-help Information Centre is now called Self-help and Information Services and is part of the Vancouver Justice Access Centre.

 

2010 Vancouver Justice Access Centre Self-help and Information Services (previously BC Supreme Court Self-Help Information Centre)

British Columbia

Collaboration between government and non-governmental bodies

BC Supreme Court, Civil and Family divisions

Evaluation objectives flowing from project objectives can be itemized as follows:

  • To determine the degree to which the centre assists users to access information, education and referrals services.
  • To determine the effectiveness of the centre service delivery model including the collaborative and consultative structure to which government and community partners contribute.
  • To identify effective practices and/or any barriers in the implementation of the project that can inform future program implementation.
  • To determine the degree to which the Centre, by increasing unrepresented litigant's access to justice, also facilities efficiencies in the court system.
  • Qualitative information was gathered in 116 interviews carried out during the project, including 35 interviews with SHC users (Final Evaluation at 13, 8).

Self-help centre for unrepresented litigants offering advice, information, and education about procedures in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
The Supreme Court Self-Help Information Centre is now part of the Vancouver Justice Access Centre, where self-help and information services are provided. This has led to a wider range of civil law information and self-help topics, as well as references to services that are available through the Vancouver Justice Access Centre.

Over the past five to ten years, unrepresented litigants have emerged as an identifiable target group for services. In response to the increasing number of unrepresented litigants, justice system partners began the Developing Models for Coordinated Services for Self-Representing Litigants project in the spring of 2004.

Government and non-government agencies collaborated in designing the Centre and determining the services that would help unrepresented litigants.... The pilot project received funding from the Law Foundation of BC, the Vancouver Foundation, and the Ministry of Attorney General. It also received extensive contributions of technical expertise, staff resources, and products from all the participating agencies, both government and non-government (Final Evaluation at 12-13).

The purpose of the pilot project was to design a self-help centre (SHC) for unrepresented litigants that would facilitate access to justice by offering advice, information, and education about procedures in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. SHC services comprise of a range of resources developed by partnering organizations as well as the in-person service delivered by the two staff who work at the physical location. The office is open for walk-in service and there is no financial eligibility test for accessing services and resources. Although the Centre's purpose is to provide services to unrepresented litigants in its Vancouver location, services are offered to all walk-ins, regardless of where their Supreme Court case originates (Final Evaluation at 6).

Interview data shows that the centre was providing a unique set of self-help services and was forming part of a larger context of emerging services for unrepresented litigants.

Users reported the centre as largely effective in satisfying their needs and in helping them prepare for court. In addition, the centre was seen as effective in connecting users to appropriate services through referrals. Through these actions, the centre was also seen to yield efficiencies at the level of court proceedings and the operation of the registry (Final Evaluation at 8).

Ongoing collaboration

  • court assistance
  • legal information centres
  • public legal education and information
  • self-represented litigants
  • Supreme Court of British Columbia
  • family law
  • alternative dispute resolution
April 2005 Pilot project commenced
April 2006

Program funded for 2006-2007

June 2010

The Supreme Court Self-help Information Centre is now called Self-help and Information Services and is part of the Vancouver Justice Access Centre.

 

2011 Seniors-only Housing

Nova Scotia

Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia

This report considers whether to amend the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act to provide an exemption for seniors-only housing. Under such an exemption, a housing development (nursing home, assisted living facility, mobile home park, public housing, condominium project, subdivision, etc.) which restricted residence to seniors would be immune from a complaint of age discrimination under the Act. Such an exemption has been adopted in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland & Labrador.
In Nova Scotia, a private members bill along similar lines was introduced in 2006, but did not pass. In 2007 Halifax Regional Council recommended that the province consider such an amendment, to address an increasing need for housing restricted to seniors. The question of whether to introduce such an exemption into the Nova Scotia Act was referred to the Commission by the Attorney-General in March of 2010.
The Commission published a Discussion Paper in December of 2010. The Paper set out the Commission’s preliminary conclusion that an exemption for seniors-only housing should not be introduced into the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act. The Paper invited public comment on this proposal, and some related questions. We received a number of responses (see Appendix A). Some voiced support for the Commission’s preliminary conclusion, and some not. In the end, we remain of the view that the Act should not be amended to include an exemption. In the discussion to follow, we address the concerns of those respondents who favoured a statutory exemption

This report first discusses the potential scope of ‘seniors only housing’ developments, and outlines the current situation in Nova Scotia. It then identifies the problem of age discrimination under the Human Rights Act, and describes the legislative provisions that some other provinces have adopted to avoid that problem. A number of social policy issues are raised by the question of introducing an express amendment into the Human Rights Act. The report adopts a justification framework for examining those issues. 
 

"This report conclude that the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act should not be amended to expressly exempt seniors-only housing. The compelling interests that may be served by some forms of housing that cater to seniors’ distinctive needs are better protected, we suggest, by a case- specific approach under the existing provisions of the Human Rights Act, rather than a blanket exemption for any seniors-only rule in respect of housing." 

Completed

  • Elder law 
  • Older persons 
  • Human Rights 
  • Law Commission 
  • Property law
2011 Final Report
2010 Discussion Paper