The Ontario government has asked the Law Commission of Ontario to look into how more people with mental and developmental disabilities could use the federal Registered Disability Savings Plan without costly assessment tests.
The RDSP is a savings program for people with developmental and mental disabilities aimed at providing for future support. While parents can enrol their children in the RDSP, adults face long and expensive competency tests before they can sign up for it.
The law commission project will investigate how adults can use the program without the expensive competency assessments. “We are extremely pleased to be asked by the Ontario government to undertake this project,” said Bruce Elman, chairman of the law commission’s board of governors.
“It reflects recognition of the high quality of the LCO’s work and its contribution to law reform in the province.”
LAO BOOST FALLS SHORT: CLA
The $30 million over three years allocated for Legal Aid Ontario in this year’s Ontario budget doesn’t do much to address a system that is “strained to a breaking point,” according to Criminal Lawyers’ Association president Norman Boxall.
“Any increase for legal aid is welcome. However, given the extent to which it is underfunded, this allocation is not adequate,” says Boxall.
The May 2 budget notes the $30 million for Legal Aid Ontario is on top of the $150 million over four years allocated to it in 2009.
“This funding will improve access to justice and enhance outcomes for low-income families, victims of domestic violence, and other vulnerable groups by strengthening the capacity of family law service centres and other community and legal clinics across Ontario to respond to evolving needs and ensure services are sustainable,” the budget states.
LAO spokesman Kristian Justesen only had praise for the new funding.
“From LAO’s perspective, this is a good day for access to justice in Ontario,” he said. “This new investment will enhance outcomes for low-income families, victims of domestic violence, and other vulnerable groups.”
Overall, justice spending will decease by $57 million this year, according to the budget. The decline is primarily a result of “lower-than-expected costs related to municipal policing, lower overtime costs, and other internal efficiencies.”
Delays in buying courthouse furniture and equipment will also bring down capital expenses in the justice sector, according to the budget.
The Ontario government also said it’s implementing what it referred to as “transformative initiatives” in the justice system. They include “alternative financing to meet the capital infrastructure needs of Ontario’s justice system,” but the budget doesn’t elaborate on what they entail.
[span style="color: #108aa8;"]
LAW SOCIETY STUDY ON RACIALIZED LICENSEES[/span]
The Law Society of Upper Canada is asking racialized lawyers and paralegals to participate in a focus group on the challenges faced by minorities in the profession.
The focus group is an extension of the work of a law society working group created last year to investigate the challenges facing racialized lawyers and paralegals and come up with strategies for inclusion.
Lawyers and paralegals looking to participate in the working group must be in good standing. Information gathered during the focus group, which will take place in June, will be confidential and reports won’t identify participants, the law society says.
Interested lawyers and paralegals can register through the law society web site.
OBA RELAUNCHES CHARITY FOUNDATION
The Ontario Bar Association has relaunched its charity program previously known as the advancement of legal education and research trust.
The charity will now be known as the OBA Foundation. It has acquired the chief justice of Ontario fellowship in legal ethics and professionalism, the OBA announced.
The program will give grants of $15,000 to full-time teachers at Canadian universities and colleges every year and award a second grant to students.
“It was the perfect fit,” said OBA Foundation chairman Steven Rosenhek.
“Legal ethics and professionalism underline the public’s trust in the justice system. We will use it as a launch pad for new endeavours.”
The OBA Foundation’s unique feature is its funding model, the OBA says. “In addition to traditional charitable fundraising, the OBA has donated speakerhonoraria in lieu of cash or gifts,” the association said.
“Every time an expert lectures at an OBA educational seminar, he or she is also contributing to legal education and research,” said Rosenhek. “It is literally the gift of Ontario lawyers’ expertise that keeps giving.
“A cash token is not that meaningful compared to the work that goes into a seminar presentation. A donation made to a charity foundation promoting legal education is much more worthwhile.”
WESTERN LAW PROF HONOURED
Western Law professor Robert Solomon has been honoured with the university’s 2013 distinguished university professorship.
The award “honours faculty who have built a record of excellence in the areas of teaching, research, and service over asubstantial career at Western,” the university said in an announcement.
Solomon, who has been at Western for 40 years, has worked in areas of addiction, health care, and impaired driving. He also helped developed the university’s campus alcohol policy.
The new honour will mean a $10,000 award forSolomon, who will use it to support his scholarly endeavours.
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.
According to the poll, more than 50 per cent of respondents condone recent steps taken by two Ontario law associations to welcome paralegals into their ranks and onto their boards.
The Halton County Law Association and Waterloo Law Association will both reserve two seats on their boards for paralegals. Fifty-four per cent of poll respondents said they agree with such moves. As Law Times reported last month, the issue is a controversial one. While some lawyers say it promotes a collegial relationship between lawyers and paralegals, others aren’t keen on sharing their law association space with paralegals.
LAW GRAD’S CURRENT ‘GOOD CHARACTER’ AFFIRMED
The Law Society of Upper Canada has granted a University of Windsor law graduate previously declared a vexatious litigant a licence to practise law.
Anica Visic filed several human rights complaints against the University of Windsor, two of her former articling principals, and the Law Society of Upper Canada.
Her current employer and articling principal Saul Glober testified that he saw a positive change in Visic over the three years that she has worked for him.
In last month’s ruling, a law society panel said Visic “demonstrated poor judgment” in relation to her personal litigation but that she’s “currently of good character.”
The panel ordered Visic to work under another lawyer for two years as she “will benefit from more mentoring from a lawyer.”
LAWYER’S DISBARMENT UPHELD
Lawyer Aliamisse Omar Mundulai has lost his appeal of his disbarment by the Law Society of Upper Canada.
In 2011, a hearing panel found Mundulai guilty of misconduct in relation to allegations that he failed to treat a tribunal with courtesy and respect; failed to conduct himself with integrity; and failed to deliver certain documents for his client upon discharge. The panel revoked his licence last year, but Mundulai appealed the decision on the basis that it was unreasonable. Among other things, he said the panel failed to take judicial notice of systemic racism and discrimination within society and the legal profession and whether that contributed to his misconduct.
But in a recent ruling, an appeal panel rejected his appeal. “In the result, we conclude that the hearing panel’s decision to revoke the appellant’s licence was reasonable and we dismiss the appeal,” wrote appeal panel chairwoman Linda Rothstein.