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The Law Commission of Ontario (“the LCO”) was launched on September 7, 2007, joining sister law reform agencies in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia, as well as some 60 law reform bodies worldwide.
The LCO was created by a Foundation Agreement to which the Law Foundation of Ontario (the LFO), the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG), the Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School (Osgoode), the Law Deans of Ontario, and the Law Society of Upper Canada (the Law Society) are parties. The LCO is a not-for-profit unincorporated institution that finds its authority in the Foundation Agreement among the founding partners and not in statute. It is funded by the LFO, MAG, Osgoode and the Law Society, and also receives funding and other support from York University. In addition to funding, Osgoode and MAG provide in-kind contributions in the form of space, IT and human resource assistance (Osgoode) and secondment of a counsel (MAG). The LCO is housed at the Ignat Kaneff Building, home of Osgoode Hall Law School at York University.
The LCO’s mandate as articulated by its Foundation Agreement is to recommend law reform measures in relation to Ontario’s legal system, to stimulate debate about law and promote scholarly legal research. In carrying out this mandate during its first five years, the LCO developed innovative yet feasible law reform recommendations and encouraged public participation in its work through outreach, project-related consultation and project advisory groups, among other activities. It has also supported the work of the five scholars in residence selected for the Osgoode Hall Law School LCO Scholar in Residence program supported by Osgoode, and has commissioned research from academics and others for several projects (the resulting papers are posted on the LCO’s website on the project pages at http://www.lco-cdo.org).
The LCO has completed four projects: the division of pensions upon marital breakdown; issues around the alternate business sector’s charging of fees to cash government cheques; joint and several liability under the Ontario Business Corporations Act; and the modernization of the Provincial Offences Act. It is in the process of completing two projects on the development of a framework for law and policy as they affect older adults and persons with disabilities, respectively; family law process; and precarious work and vulnerable workers. The Final Reports in the completed projects and discussion papers and interim reports and other information in all the projects can be found on the LCO’s website at http://www.lco-cdo.org.
The LCO has also undertaken an initiative to develop curriculum modules on violence against women for use by law schools, funded by the Ontario Women’s Directorate.
In addition to these projects, the LCO has undertaken a number of other activities, including a public lecture and symposium on “conversations about law reform” and a national conference on elder law, co-organized with the Canadian Centre for Elder Law Studies and the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly; roundtables to help select a family law project and as part of the consultation process in the joint and several liability project; and symposia on e-health and on investigative journalism, co-organized with IP Osgoode and with Osgoode Hall Law School, respectively, both in support of scholars in residence. The LCO also hosted the Federation of Law Reform Agencies of Canada meeting and workshop.
LCO staff members have published in scholarly journals and participated in conferences on law reform generally and on substantive issues. They have contributed to panel discussions organized by professional and community organizations and published in professional newsletters. They have been invited to participate in consultations by other law reform commissions, or on committees by scholarly and community groups and have made submissions on matters relevant to the expertise gained through projects. The LCO has been asked to write letters of support by organizations seeking funding for projects relevant to the LCO’s mandate, work or activities.
The LCO has been renewed for an additional five years. This Strategic Plan addresses the LCO’s direction during that period, including its mission and values, the strengths, opportunities and challenges it faces, its short and long-term objectives and how its performance will be measured. The Plan updates the Strategic Plan 2008-2012 and benefits from lessons learned over the first mandate and the evaluation of the LCO completed in February 2009.
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