Family Services Consolidated At Sheppard Avenue East Courthouse
Renovation And Expansion Improves Access To Justice
TORONTO -- North Toronto area residents now have better access to family justice services thanks to the amalgamation of all local family court operations at 47 Sheppard Avenue East, Attorney General Michael Bryant announced today.
"The new Toronto North Family Court is making life easier for families outside downtown Toronto by allowing them to have family justice matters dealt with in a single location," said Bryant.
The McGuinty government invested $4.6 million over two years to redesign and renovate the Sheppard Avenue courthouse to accommodate the consolidation of family court matters in north Toronto.
Today, 47 Sheppard is the hub of Family Court services for north Toronto. Previously, the Sheppard Avenue courthouse serviced only the central northern area of the city. The new Family Court now hears matters previously dealt with at 1911 Eglinton Avenue East and 80 The East Mall. The Family Court at 311 Jarvis Street continues to provide service to families in the downtown core of Toronto.
The amalgamated Toronto North Family Court at 47 Sheppard consists of six courtrooms, a dedicated duty counsel office, Children's Aid Society and Catholic Children's Aid Society offices and a mediation room. Renovations included the construction of four new courtrooms, six judicial chambers and seven interview rooms, and the renovation of two existing courtrooms and a judicial chamber.
"The new court has provided a more professional and confidential environment for our clients and staff to conduct their business," said Bill Mairs, East District Director for the City of Toronto Social Services. "Combining three courts into one has made the administration of the City's work within the courts much easier and increased the volume of clients we can service."
The merger of the family courts is being recognized in an official opening ceremony later today at the 47 Sheppard Avenue East courthouse.
"By investing in existing courthouses, we are helping to create a more modern, effective and accessible justice system," said Bryant. "We will continue to re-evaluate the needs of court facilities to ensure that community needs are met."
The McGuinty government's commitment to improving access to justice for Ontarians also includes:
- Appointing 61 judges, 45 justices of the peace and additional court staff to shorten the time it takes to get cases to trial
- The recently passed Access to Justice Act, 2006 that, among other things, reforms the justice of the peace system, regulates paralegals and creates a new act that would be a single source for rules about Ontario's laws
- Introducing the Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2006, which passed on December 5 and will improve and strengthen the promotion, advancement and enforcement of human rights in Ontario
- Introducing the Independent Police Review Act, 2006 that would, if passed, create an independent civilian body to administer the police review system in Ontario
- Increasing funding to Legal Aid Ontario by $13 million in 2006/07. Since October 2003, the McGuinty government has increased base funding by 10 per cent, or $25 million
- Adopting policies and procedures to enhance the openness of the justice system to the media and public, promote greater access to information and support education for justice partners and the media.