counsellors and conciliators.1202
Other support services
12.50The report of the Task Group on a Family Court stated that “conciliation and counselling are the services that are ... at the root of establishing a proper Family Court system”.1203 The report recommended that an office should be provided at the Family Court for conciliators and counsellors to offer their services. This would facilitate a direct link with the court. Referral for counselling or conciliation could also be made to qualified persons outside the court. A conciliation service based in the court would help parties to deal with the emotional, practical and legal aspects of their dispute and to negotiate a settlement.1204 The staff would liaise with the lawyers to “guarantee an early settlement and efficient case management”.1205 A Court Conciliation Co-ordinator would act as a liaison between the parties, their legal representatives, the court and conciliation agencies.
12.51We generally approve and adopt the recommendations of the report of the Task Group on a Family Court on support services, but prefer to adopt the terms “mediation and mediators” rather than “conciliation and conciliators”. Providing support by allocating more resources to mediation, information sessions and parent education complements the court process. It is necessary to connect these support services and resources to the court system to ensure court accessibility and accountability.1206 We recommend that support services should be government funded.
Support services accommodation at the Family Court
12.52We suggest that the accommodation for the Family Court should include comfortable consultation rooms which will protect the privacy of the parties and their children. This will improve the settlement environment of the court.
12.53We endorse the recommendation of the report of the Task Group on a Family Court. We suggest that there should be an office for counsellors and mediators who could be available for clients during normal office hours, and also to assist the court on the dates when there are call-over lists. The advantage of having such staff on duty at the court is that this may be more effective in achieving resolution than having the two sets of lawyers negotiating at the “door of the court”, at a call-over or hearing. However, bargaining on the morning of a hearing should diminish if issues and settlement conferences are introduced.
12.54We have already adopted the recommendations on support services of the report of the Task Group on a Family Court. We recommend the provision of accommodation at the Family Court for counsellors and mediators
1202 Ibid at paragraph 7.2.
1203 Ibid at paragraph 7.
1204 Ibid at paragraph 2.4.
1205 Paragraph 7.1.3.
1206 Ontario Civil Justice Review, First Report, supra at chapter 16.