Improving Access to the Justice System

Published on February 16, 2021

New legislation will save Ontarians money and reduce the time they spend waiting for their day in court

Today, our PC government was pleased to introduce the Accelerating Access to Justice Act, 2021, that, if passed, would help transform the way Ontarians access justice in the courtroom and beyond, including in rural, northern, Francophone and Indigenous communities.

"Justice accelerated is justice delivered. No matter where you live in our province, the growth and well-being of our communities demands easier and faster access to a justice system that works for people," said Doug Downey, MPP for Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte and Attorney General. "The advancements we are proposing to adopt in this bill will benefit people across Ontario by saving them money and reducing the time they spend waiting for their day in court."

The proposed legislation would make it easier, cheaper and faster for Ontarians to access justice across the system, notably by modernizing processes and breaking down barriers in the province’s courts, tribunals, estates law, family law, and child protection sectors. Key initiatives in the legislation include:

  • Helping fill judicial vacancies faster so people will be able to have their matters heard by a judge more quickly, and with fewer delays. These changes would maintain current legislated qualifications to become a judge, as announced in February 2020, and reflect feedback received from justice partners and lawyers. Changes will also support broader efforts to encourage more lawyers to apply by moving the applications process online.
  • Permanently allowing the virtual witnessing of wills and powers of attorney to make it easier for people to get these important affairs in order, without the limitations of travelling to access these services in-person.
  • Promoting the interests of children by giving them a greater voice in the court process, and better focusing resources of the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.
  • Increasing access to justice in French by expanding and guaranteeing the ability of francophones to file documents in French at all Ontario courthouses and for all matters including civil and family law.

It also builds on Ontario’s recent justice modernization breakthroughs and proposes urgent reforms to address delays for Ontarians waiting to resolve legal issues in front of a judge or beyond the courtroom. We are determined to continue demonstrating, through ground-breaking innovation and collaboration, that justice accelerated is justice delivered.