The seventh annual Access to Justice Week (A2J Week) in Ontario took place from October 24 to 28, featuring a series of programs centered on Access to Justice Counts: Using data to address the legal needs of Canadians. Law Society of Ontario Treasurer Jacqueline Horvat kicked off the week with a sunrise ceremony performed by Indigenous Elder Myeengun Henry. This week also highlighted the importance of the Law Society's commitment to Truth and Reconciliation by celebrating the launch of the 1st Supplement to the Guide for Lawyers Working with Indigenous Peoples.
A2J Week 2022 was the largest and most attended event to date with more than 3,000 attendees participating in 25 virtual and in-person programs throughout the week. Sessions exploring the qualitative and quantitative data currently available to the justice sector, what data should be collected, and how data can be effectively used to understand and address the legal needs of Canadians were prominent in the week's programming. Other highlights included programs about mental health needs, rural access to justice, best practices in digital justice, and about how to better serve Indigenous Peoples, trans people, women, ethnic minorities and low-income populations in Canada.
"I thank everyone who took part in A2J Week – as a participant, a presenter or an organizer," said Jacqueline Horvat, Treasurer of the Law Society of Ontario. "The level of engagement demonstrated in each conversation and the commitment to finding solutions across the legal professions, not-for-profit and judicial sectors leaves me optimistic that new avenues for Ontarians to access legal assistance are underway or will be very soon."
In addition to opportunities for legal professionals, this year's programming featured four public-facing workshops designed to answer legal questions and inform the public about their legal rights in order to help break down barriers faced by those accessing the justice system. More than 180 people from across the province participated in these sessions to help find answers to everyday legal questions and be connected to relevant legal resources.
Ontario's A2J Week is hosted by TAG: The Action Group on Access to Justice in collaboration with the Law Society of Ontario and justice sector partners. TAG was established by the Law Society of Ontario in 2015 to facilitate better coordination and collaboration across the justice sector. With support from the Law Society of Ontario and the Law Foundation of Ontario, TAG works with a range of justice stakeholders to develop meaningful, public-centred solutions that advance systemic change.
The Law Society regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario in the public interest. The Law Society has a mandate to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario and to act in a timely, open and efficient manner.