Ontario lawyers warn delays at provincial human rights tribunal could undermine cases
Kelly Doctor speaks to the Canadian Press about delays at the HRTO
As reported by the CBC and others, there is a serious shortage of adjudicators at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario resulting in “widespread delays that some lawyers say could undermine cases, prolong conflicts and discourage vulnerable people from seeking relief.”
The press first picked up on the story after Kelly Doctor tweeted about receiving a notice from the HRTO cancelling a scheduled hearing indefinitely:
The Canadian Press recently spoke to Kelly about the problem:
Kelly Doctor, a partner at the law firm Goldblatt Partners, said she recently received an email advising her that the tribunal no longer had the resources to hear a preliminary motion that had been set for this month.
“We had been waiting a while for that hearing date,” she said.
“Now this case is on hold indefinitely … We’re not even at the stage of having everyone sit down and go to mediation, let alone the stage of having it proceed to a hearing so it’s really sort of making things drag on and it’s problematic.”
Such delays can put a lot of strain on complainants, both emotionally and financially, she said. In some cases, people have lost their jobs due to discrimination and can face real economic pressure until their case is resolved, she said.
These setbacks can also undermine public confidence in the system, she said.
“If they see the human rights tribunal as being an ineffective place to resolve their disputes I think it could result in people not filing claims,” Doctor said.