Sean Weir, Executive Chair of Tribunals Ontario, and Harry Gousopoulos, Executive Director of Tribunals Ontario, issued the following statement in response to the Ombudsman’s Office Annual Report released on August 10, 2022:
“We have reviewed the Ombudsman’s Office 2021-2022 Annual Report and we are steadfast in our commitment to providing fair, effective and timely access to justice.
Over the past two years, Tribunals Ontario has experienced significant challenges that have resulted in certain tribunals not meeting service standards. We recognize the impact that service delays have on those who access our services and are taking steps to address backlogs, including modernizing our organization and adapting many of our core services.
Tribunals Ontario has launched a number of service improvements and alternative service delivery options to better serve users, including:
- Launching Tribunals Ontario Portal, an online system to file applications, submit and exchange documents with other parties and try to resolve disputes at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). Once fully implemented, the portal will include more features, including self-scheduling and additional online application forms, to improve services and create efficiencies for users.
- Launching Navigate Tribunals Ontario, an online self-help tool designed to provide information about the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants under the Residential Tenancies Act and processes at the LTB.
- Transitioning to the Zoom platform for all video hearings, providing a better experience for our users and ongoing improvements to ensure that hearings are accessible, user friendly, and state of the art. At the LTB, moderators are available to help with virtual proceedings, including signing in parties.
- Revamping accommodations webpage to provide clear, plain language information around accommodations to stakeholders, including sample common scenarios to make it easier for user groups to identify potential solutions.
- Implementing access terminals to allow parties who do not have access to a telephone, computer and/or the internet to participate in their virtual hearings at one of four hearing centres across the province. Tribunals Ontario is developing a plan to expand access terminals to more locations.
- Introducing a phone pilot program at the LTB to lend an inexpensive cellphone to parties without phone access, and provide top-up minutes to parties with pre-paid or pay-as-you-go plans to ensure sufficient airtime minutes to participate in their proceeding. Tribunals Ontario is working to expand this pilot program to additional tribunals and evaluate integrating it as a permanent program.
- Resuming in-person proceedings for approved accommodation-based requests for all tribunals.
While we encourage those who access our services to use online tools to find information and file applications, we remain committed to offering alternate methods of support. Our digital-first approach does not mean digital only.
In addition to our service improvements, we are working to build up our adjudicator and staff complement. On March 30, 2022, the Ontario government announced an investment of $4.5 million over three years that will increase the number of staff and adjudicators, allowing the LTB to more quickly resolve existing backlogs. This commitment was reinforced in the 2022-2023 Ontario Budget that was introduced on August 9, 2022. We currently have more adjudicators at Tribunals Ontario than at any other time, and we are initiating recruitment competitions to increase adjudicative resources as needed.
Tribunals Ontario will continue to review the Ombudsman’s Office’s recommendations for the LTB and will work in partnership with the Office to improve access to justice for all Ontarians.
Tribunals Ontario Communications
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