Promoting Diversity in the Judiciary
Province Working to Recruit More Judges from Indigenous and Diverse Communities
Ontario is working to promote greater diversity and improve gender balance in appointments to the Ontario Court of Justice.
Working with the Ontario Court of Justice and the Ministry of the Attorney General, the province's independent Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee (JAAC) is taking steps to encourage legal professionals from diverse communities to apply to become judges, including:
- Changing the judicial application form to include an option to self-identify as Indigenous, belonging to a racialized community or other ethnic or cultural group, a person with a disability, LGBTQ2+, or by gender
- Increasing outreach, advertising and informational sessions to law associations and students across the province to reach a wider and more diverse audience
- Participating in a roundtable with representatives from the bar and federal government on increasing the diversity in provincial and federal judicial appointments
- Collecting race-based data on judicial applicants and new appointments to strengthen future reporting on diversity.
In addition, the committee is consulting with the Ontario Human Rights Commission to strengthen committee member training and education to ensure that the process of recruitment of new judges addresses possible systemic barriers.
The province's independent Justices of the Peace Appointments Advisory Committee (JPAAC) will be amending the justice of the peace application form to include the same option for applicants to self-identify by this fall.
Building on the work of Ontario's anti-racism strategic plan, increasing diversity in appointments to the province's courts seeks to break down barriers for Indigenous peoples, racialized groups, Francophone communities, women and other minority communities across the province.
- The JAAC is composed of seven members appointed by the Attorney General, two judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, one member appointed by the Ontario Judicial Council and three from the legal community appointed by The Law Society of Upper Canada, Ontario Bar Association and the County and District Law Presidents’ Association.
- Ontario Court of Justice judges and justices of the peace are appointed by the Attorney General on the recommendation of the JAAC and JPAAC, respectively.
- The justice of the peace application form currently includes an option to self-identify as Indigenous, and of the justices of the peace appointed on June 30 and July 28, 2017, seven are Indigenous peoples.
- Since July 2016, the Attorney General has appointed 32 judges to the Ontario Court of Justice, including four bilingual judges, and one regional senior justice.
- As of July 28, 2017, the Attorney General has appointed 38 justices of the peace to the Ontario Court of Justice.
“One of Ontario’s greatest strengths is its diversity. It is important that this diversity be reflected in our judiciary – to the benefit of our entire justice system and the communities it serves. Together, with the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee, we are building a more accessible and modern justice system that is responsive to the needs everyone in Ontario.”
“We are working diligently to improve the judicial application process to attract diverse and expert applicants from the Ontario legal community. Our efforts also include additional training to understand the implications of unconscious bias in the recruitment and selection process. Thank you to the province and the Ontario Court of Justice for their support in our efforts to recruit a diverse and gender balanced selection of candidates for appointment to the judiciary.”
“To build trust in the justice system, it is important that our judiciary reflect the full diversity of our community. The Ontario Human Rights Commission is pleased to provide its expertise to the Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee to assist with achieving this important goal. We remain committed to using our promotion and education functions to assist the legal profession and judiciary to identify and challenge systemic discrimination.”