We need more Judges & Courthouses in Ontario

The Ontario Provincial election will be held June 12 and this is a good time to tell the candidates of all parties what’s troubling this Province.

As a law firm whose practice includes Business Law Litigation from the Small Claims Court to the Court of Appeal throughout Ontario, we have a strong opinion on the need for more resources to be provided to the Civil Court system in Ontario.

We don’t practice Criminal Law so we have no knowledge, nor opinion, on how long it takes to get to trial in that area, this Blog is only about Civil Law.

As a result of increasing the Small Claims Court Limit to $ 25 000.00 in Ontario, the number of claims being processed through that Court system has skyrocketed. However, the number of Judges has, at best, remained the same. In some jurisdictions the number of Small Claims Court Judges has decreased.

This means that for an undefended matter in Toronto, it takes at least 6 months to get a Judgment. If the matter is defended, the time is 18 months at a minimum.

In Brampton, the delay is even longer as that region is completed snowed under by the amount of claims and lack of Judges.

Of course, in most jurisdictions, there are not enough Court Rooms to accommodate more judges, so that needs to be dealt with at the same time as increasing the number of Judges.

At the Superior Court level ($ 25 000.00 +) in Toronto it takes at least four months to obtain Judgment if the matter is undefended. If the matter is defended and goes through to trial, it can take 2 years or more.

In Milton, Ontario a defended matter can get to trial in approximately 18 months after being issued, however, I understand the fall out from that is it takes 9 months to obtain an uncontested Divorce in the Region as the Judges who hear Civil matters also hear Family matters. That is not right.

The fall out from lack of Judges also extends to the Court Counter Staff.

At the Brampton’s Sheriff office they are responsible for receiving money garnished from employers and bank accounts. That money is to be held 30 days and then distributed between everyone who has a Judgment against the debtor.

Well, Brampton’s Sheriff office doesn’t open envelopes for at least six weeks. After the envelopes are opened and put in the system, they process the money after approximately 90 to 120 days, at least.

The impact of this delay is that other Judgments can come into the system and compete with the money that should have been distributed almost a half year earlier. This is not right.

This needs to be fixed.

Inga B. Andriessen JD