This paper shares what the LCO heard during consultations from over a hundred users and workers involved in the family justice system, broadly defined and including all its multidisciplinary facets. The LCO gathered their ideas through close to fifty telephone and in-person meetings as well as an online survey. Opinions found in this paper do not by any means represent the views of all Ontarians. However, consultations still provided an opportunity for the LCO to ensure that its research and future recommendations relate at least to some extent to what goes on in practice. The final LCO report on family justice will take consultation participants’ opinions and experiences into account but will also connect them to broader issues found in family justice literature and in the research initiatives of other organizations addressing family justice reform.
In the end, many questions remain about what can generate change. What are people’s incentives to prevent and solve family problems? What are the provincial government’s incentives to do the same? If people need money, want to see their children, want to get out of a relationship or feel that their physical security is threatened, they probably have an incentive to solve these problems. However, these factors experienced by many people may work in different ways. The need for money or to see children may be an incentive to remain in an unpleasant or even abusive relationship. Fear of economic insecurity, losing relationships with children or of violent retaliation for breaking a spousal relationship may also act as a disincentive to solve family issues. Maintaining relationships despite significant problems may also have historically been perceived as an important factor in maintaining social stability but the cost of such basis for social stability has now been denounced by many, including users who would like see the state investing in social conditions that increase the likelihood of Ontarians building and maintaining healthier relationships.
The LCO will need to take these questions into consideration in thinking about the final stage of this project. This last stage will involve conducting additional research and developing recommendations for family justice reform. In early 2011, the LCO will produce an interim report including preliminary recommendations, on which Ontarians will have a chance to comment. The LCO will then produce its final recommendations and report, as approved by its Board of Governors.
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