The UNJUST BUDGETS – Constitutionally Valid? article was originally posted on this website over six years ago, on March 15, 2013
Explanation for Re-posting
As Ontario’s administrative justice system evolves in the hands of the Ford Government, a part of the experience so far, and what we have been given reason to expect more of in the future, is significant tribunal budget cuts. And if it has not already happened, it is prudent to expect that for particular adjudicative tribunals the budget cuts may reach a level where the government is no longer providing the funds required for tribunals to perform their statutory adjudicative duties in reasonable compliance with the rule-of-law’s principles of procedural fairness.
In 2013, Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal, was experiencing a year-over-year increase in the number of appeals it was receiving of 40%. There had been no budget increases necessary to deal with that burgeoning caseload, and in February, Ian Strachan, WSIAT’s Chair, issued a public warning that if nothing was done about the budget, the Tribunal might soon be at a place where it could no longer offer oral hearings.
In March, 2013, this author’s book, Unjust by Design, had just been published and this website opened. And, to this author’s eye, Mr. Strachan’s warning provided a convenient occasion to bring to the website readers’ attention, the seminal question as to whether the law would permit the executive branch to reduce an adjudicative tribunal’s budget to the point that it was demonstrably unable to perform the adjudicative function assigned to it by its constituent statute.
For instance, would the law allow the budget to be cut even to zero without any statutory amendments to its assignments? And if not to zero, then how might the court define the minimum level of budget requirement, and on what basis of law could such a limit be imposed?
This is the question that the March 15, 2013 article addressed and it has been re-posted at this point because of that issue’s freshly relevant interest here in the Ford era. It can be found at https://administrativejusticereform.ca/unjust-budgets-constitutionally-valid/
Please note: In that 2013 article, the author is using the terminology used in Unjust by Design in which adjudicative tribunals are labeled “judicial tribunals”. The justification for that terminology is to be found in Chapter 2 of the book.