The Financial Services Commission of Ontario or FSCO provides mediation and dispute resolution services to injured persons who are involved in a dispute with their insurer over the availability of Accident Benefits. Under the current law, these disputes must be sent to mediation first before they are determined on the merits by an independent arbitrator or Judge.
The mediation backlog has been well documented and at one point there were approximately 30,000 cases in the system and it was taking up to one year to schedule mediation with an FSCO mediator. The Ontario government was forced to act and spent $38 million dollars to hire an outside consultant to help reduce the backlog.
As a result, the 2012-2013 Auditor General’s report has announced that the mediation backlog in Ontario has been virtually eliminated. It now only takes two to three months for mediation to proceed in a case. However, unfortunately, the wait time for arbitration has increased such that if the case cannot be settled at mediation it may take upwards of a year before an arbitration hearing date is set. There are presently 15,000 arbitration cases in the queue.
The result is that injured persons in Ontario will continue to be disadvantaged by a system that is in crisis.