35th Anniversary of the Unified Family Court (Attorney General Rob Nicholson)
Remarks of Attorney General Rob Nicholson for the 35th Anniversary of the Unified Family Court, June 25, 2012
I’m very honoured to be here, Chief Justices, members of the judiciary, ladies and gentlemen, so close to my home town of Niagara Falls. It’s wonderful to be here, wonderful to be in the presence of our former Lieutenant Governor and the Member of Parliament for this area, the honourable Lincoln Alexander. Nice to see you Sir, and thank you for coming out to this.
I have had the honour ladies and gentlemen of being Canada’s Justice Minister for the last five and a half years. I got my start in this business 23 years ago as the Parliamentary Secretary to the honourable Doug Lewis who is here tonight. Thank you very much Doug for being here.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to be here to celebrate this milestone in Canada’s family justice system. It’s hard to believe that it was 35 years ago. You just heard the government of Canada collaborated with the province of Ontario to resolve family law disputes at this very area, first unified family court. The initiative is an effective approach as you know to resolution of those very complex issues that result when families break down.
There can be serious repercussions as you know not just for parents and their children but for society as a whole. Minimizing family conflicts reduces the emotional and the financial toll on families while benefiting our health, education and social systems. Over the last three decades governments have increasingly recognized that the family justice system needs to focus on early intervention so that they can respond more effectively to the needs of families.
Intervening early and in a constructive manner can prevent conflicts from escalating and ensure that the needs of children are addressed quickly. One of the strengths of the unified family court is that it integrates family justice services into the legal process. Ontario, the province in which we live, has provided leadership in developing these front end family justice services.
Today families experiencing separation and divorce can turn to family law information centres, mediation services and parent education programs. These services all work towards our common goal which is to resolve some of these issues in a timely manner that takes the least amount of toll as possible.
I’m pleased about the role the government of Canada has taken in helping the provinces and territories implement and maintain these services. I remember it’s hard to believe right now but in 2008 the government of Canada would contribute $122 million of funding for a five year family justice initiative, that’s supporting families experiencing separation and divorce which was inaugurated in 2009.
The funding included $16 million to the provinces and territories to assist in the delivery of family justice services as well as measures to make sure that parents complied with their financial and access obligations. All of these are steps in the right direction. It’s important that our system be as accessible as possible. We all have a stake in that so I’m very pleased that my officials at the Department of Justice play an important role in informing Canadian families about services and option available to them in order to achieve early non-adversarial resolutions to these disputes.
That support is provided by responding to hundreds of phone calls and e-mails about family law and distributing information in this area. In closing I’d like to acknowledge and express again my gratitude to all government and court officials as well as community service professionals across Ontario. Their dedication and compassion are helping to resolve family law matters fairly and for the long term to the benefit of everyone in our communities and society. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.
Categories : Justice
Last Update : 2012-07-08