Ontario Investing $65 Million to Expand Access to Video Court Hearings
TORONTO — The Ontario government is transforming how people can access court and legal matters with an investment of $65 million over five years to ensure more courtrooms across the province are equipped with technology to enable people to access hearings through video or audio.
This funding will ensure a more accessible, responsive and resilient court system by:
- installing audio-visual technology
- purchasing and upgrading computers and other hardware
- training and support for the judiciary and court staff
- internet bandwidth upgrades and ongoing maintenance
“Building on the innovative breakthroughs we have pioneered to introduce online access to Ontario’s justice system, this $65 million investment will ensure video and audio hearings are available in every region, including in more rural, northern and Indigenous communities,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “We aren’t turning back, and the Justice Accelerated Strategy is the next chapter in our commitment to overhaul outdated processes, move more services online and better meet people’s expectations for how justice can be done in 2022 and beyond.”
After an initial emergency investment was made to introduce virtual and hybrid hearings to Ontario courts in 2020, the government’s Justice Accelerated Strategy will ensure the latest technology is more widely available, helping speed up access to hearings, reduce the need for in-person visits and better serve people who must attend court in-person.
Justice Accelerated also includes Courts Digital Transformation, a new solution that will provide on-demand, digital access to courts by replacing outdated paper-based court procedures with an online platform to manage cases, documents and schedules.
The province is also improving how people interact with Tribunals Ontario through investments in the strategy. In December, Tribunals Ontario started implementing a new case management solution that allows clients to access mediation, file applications and upload shareable documents.
- Since March 2020, the Ontario and Superior Courts of Justice have held more than 3.2 million virtual or hybrid hearings, which includes proceedings in which all participants attend remotely and those that combine in person and virtual participants.
- The Justice Accelerated Strategy is Ontario’s plan to break down longstanding barriers in the justice system by overhauling processes and moving more services online and closer to Ontarians.
- Virtual hearings are court proceedings in which all participants attend remotely; hybrid hearings have both in-person and virtual participants.