Administrative Justice – Miscellaneous News: appointments process Op Ed article; and the WSIAT Chair mystery.

Le Devoir op-ed article calling for appointment process reform

French-speaking readers may find the following op ed article in Le Devoir (June 29, 2016) of interest.  It calls on the federal government to pay special attention to the need for rule of law reforms to the appointment and re-appointment processes for federal adjudicative tribunal members.

Signatories to the article include Lorne  Sossin, David Mullan, France Houle, Laverne Jacobs, Gerald Heckman, and yours truly.


On the Ontario workers’ comp front, it is of interest that the appointment of Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal’s outgoing Chair has been extended for three months – from the end of June, to the end of September.

Despite recruiting efforts over many months, the government could apparently find no one with the necessary qualifications who was both prepared to  become the WSIAT Chair and who met the government’s own unstated criteria (whatever those may prove to have been).

It is known that there were highly regarded and fully qualified WSIAT Vice-Chairs who had applied for the position, but were turned down, or withdrew their applications, and that there were other obvious candidates from the advocacy community who were interviewed but not accepted or who withdrew their applications.

The fact that the government was only prepared to offer the next Chair a two-year appointment, at a salary of $140,000, no doubt had something to do with its inability to land this fish.

(And, of course, there is the question as to why the government would, in the first place, choose to offer a two-year term, and paltry compensation, for a position of such senior responsibility. The new Chair (and Tribunal CEO) will have the impossible challenge of dealing with the WSIAT’s 10,000 case backlog plus 1500 unanswered reconsideration requests in a tribunal where, pursuant to the government’s insane 10-year cap policy, all of the senior adjudicators are on their way out.)

One must be forgiven for suspecting that the government – or its bureaucrats – are seeking a WSIAT Chair who they can count on to support in WSIAT the culture of cost-averse adjudicative bias they have successfully installed at the WSIB (the culture that lead to WSIAT’s backlog), and had difficulty in finding a  person who would, on the one hand, be amenable to that assignment but, on the other, not be so patently obvious in that regard as to risk tipping the worker community over into outright revolt.

Look for an increase in the compensation package and the term of appointment for whomever does finally accept this appointment.  Or, perhaps, the appointment will prove to be a senior secondment from the public service who would come with their public service compensation and job security intact, and with a safe place within the government to go home to when the two-year assignment is up.

Stay tuned.


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