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Table of Contents

  1. What Types of Appeals Can Be Heard?
  2. What Happens at a Tribunal Hearing?
  3. Do I Have to Hire a Lawyer?
  4. Where are Hearings Held?

What Types of Appeals can be Heard?

  1. Drainage Act Appeals

The Drainage Act provides three bodies to which a landowner may appeal when a drainage works is being proposed or improved. The appeal bodies are the Court of Revision, the Tribunal and the Drainage Referee.

The Tribunal hears appeals on a range of matters under the Drainage Act including:

a. Dissatisfaction with an Engineer’s Report on grounds that:

i. the estimated cost of the project is greater than the expected benefits;

ii. the proposed drainage works should be modified (appellant to specify what should be changed)

iii. the compensation or allowances provided in the report are inadequate or excessive;

iv. the report says the work is not required, or is impractical or cannot be constructed.

b. Dissatisfaction with the decision of the Court of Revision regarding the assessment of the costs for the drainage works in an Engineer’s Report.

c. Dissatisfaction with the quality of the construction of a drainage works during construction or up to one year from the date of completion of the drainage works.

d. Decisions of a Municipal Council with respect to a drain under the Drainage Act, with power to compel it to appoint an engineer, adopt an Engineering Report, etc.

e. Dissatisfaction with an environmental appraisal of a drainage works.

To appeal to the Tribunal a landowner must serve a signed written notice, stating the grounds for the appeal, upon the Clerk of the initiating municipality. Notice of Appeal forms are available from the municipal clerk.

The Clerk records the appeal and sends a copy to the Tribunal. The appeal should clearly indicate what is being objected to and what relief is being sought from the Tribunal.

The Tribunal has the power to fix costs of the hearing and award them against a party to the hearing but does so in few cases. See Sections 98(10) and 98(11) of the Drainage Act with respect to awards of costs.  In awarding costs, if any, the Tribunal may also give consideration to Rule 28 of the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure.

Three members of the Tribunal typically hear appeals, one of whom is a lawyer entitled to practise in Ontario. Most decisions of the Tribunal are final. See section 101 of the Drainage Act.

  1. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Act - Regulated Commodity Appeals

The Tribunal is an impartial appeal body available to any person who feels aggrieved by decisions of marketing boards, the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission or a Director appointed under the Farm Products Marketing Act or the Milk Act. (For example, decisions and policies relating to: quota allocations; pricing or requests for exemption from marketing board policies; penalties imposed by a marketing board.)

The Tribunal obtains its authority to hear appeals under Section 16 of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Act. Appeals may be made from orders, directions, decisions, and policies of the marketing boards or a director, or from orders, directions or decisions of the Farm Products Marketing Commission that are not of general application.

Regulations of the marketing boards may be appealed to the Tribunal but regulations of the Farm Products Marketing Commission cannot.

The Tribunal has the power to order the local board, the Director and the Commission to take any action they are authorized to take under the Farm Products Marketing Act or the Milk Act and as the Tribunal considers proper.  Under Section 18 of the Act, the Minister may review a decision of the Tribunal.

Section 16(5) of the Act outlines the pre-conditions that must be met prior to filing an appeal with the Tribunal.  An appeal should be filed within one year of the decision to which the party is aggrieved.

To initiate an appeal, write to the Tribunal requesting a hearing. In your signed and dated letter, provide a copy of the decision you are appealing and state what it is you are objecting to and what relief you want the Tribunal to grant.

  1. Agricultural Products Insurance Act, 1996

Under the Agricultural Products Insurance Act, 1996 (formerly the Crop Insurance Act (Ontario) 1996), the Tribunal has exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine all disputes between AgriCorp and an insured person arising out of an adjustment of a loss under a contract of insurance, provided the appeal has been filed within the time allowed. The Tribunal can also rule on whether or not a person qualifies for a contract of insurance if AgriCorp has denied coverage. Appeal proceedings are governed by Section 10 of the Act and Ontario Regulation 140/96 made under the Act. The Tribunal is independent of AgriCorp.

To initiate an appeal, write a letter to the Tribunal stating what it is you are objecting to and what relief you want the Tribunal to grant. Sign and date the letter and provide full contact information.

  1. Farm Registration and Farm Organizations Funding Act, 1993 – Accreditation and Special Funding Applications

The Tribunal accredits general farm organizations in order to receive funding from the Farm Business Registration program, and determines the eligibility of a Francophone farm organization to receive special funding.

Regulation 722/93 (amended to O. Reg. 50/14), under the Farm Registration and Farm Organizations Funding Act, 1993 sets out the criteria to be met in order to receive accreditation and special funding status.

  1. Farm Registration and Farm Organizations Funding Act, 1993 – Religious Exemptions

The Tribunal reviews applications and holds hearings concerning applications from individuals who request an exemption from filing or payment under the Act because of their genuinely held religious convictions or beliefs. Applications can be obtained by contacting the Tribunal office.

  1. Assessment Act Appeals – Eligibility for the Farm Property Class Tax Rate

The Tribunal hears appeals regarding the eligibility of agricultural properties for the farm property class designation. Under the Assessment Act, farmlands are placed in a separate tax category and are assessed at a rate of 25% of the rate for residential properties.  Appeals relating to the farm property class designation can only be referred to the Tribunal by the Assessment Review Board.

  1. Farm Implements Act Appeals

The Tribunal hears applications and appeals arising from matters under the Farm Implements Act. Applications may arise from disputes between manufacturers or distributors and dealers of farm equipment, or between an end buyer and a dealer, distributor or manufacturer.  Appeals may also arise from a decision of a Director related to the registration of a dealer or distributor. Parties to a dispute under Section 5 of the Act may only apply to the Tribunal for a hearing after mediation has been attempted.

  1. Agricultural Employees Protection Act (AEPA) Complaints

The purpose of the AEPA is to protect the rights of agricultural employees while having regard to the unique characteristics of agriculture.

The Tribunal may hear complaints where it is alleged that there has been a contravention of the AEPA. A specially appointed roster of Tribunal members hears these complaints. The special roster has adopted the Tribunal's Rules of Procedures for hearings under the AEPA.

To initiate a complaint, write a letter to the Tribunal describing the relevant details of the alleged contravention of the Act. Sign and date the letter and provide full contact information.

  1. Appeals of Licensing Decisions of Directors appointed under Various Statutes

Those aggrieved by licensing decisions made under the Agricultural Tile Drainage Installation Act, the Animals for Research Act, the Animal Health Act, 2009, the Grains Act, the Farm Products Marketing Act, the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001, the Livestock and Livestock Products Act, the Livestock Medicines Act, and the Milk Act, can write to the Tribunal requesting a hearing. Under the Beef Cattle Marketing Act, the Tribunal can hear appeals from a decision of the Director to not include or remove plants from a list of plants that comply with the Act and regulations. To file an appeal, provide a copy of the decision of the Director and state what it is you are objecting to and what relief you want the Tribunal to grant.  Sign and date the letter and provide full contact information.

  1. Applications relating to Conduct of Members of Commodity Boards

The Tribunal hears applications relating to the conduct of members of commodity boards under the Commodity Board Members Act and makes determinations on whether a member of a commodity board is in contravention of any regulation or order under the Farm Products Marketing Act or the Milk Act; or where a plan prescribes qualifications for a person to be elected or appointed a member of a commodity board, whether the member conforms with such qualifications.

To initiate a hearing, write a letter to the Tribunal requesting a hearing and explain what it is about the conduct of a board member that gives reason to suggest that the member has contravened the Act.  Sign and date the letter and provide full contact information.

  1. Board of Negotiation under the Environmental Protection Act

Under the Environmental Protection Act, where a person complains that a contaminant is causing or has caused injury or damage to livestock or to crops, trees or other vegetation which may result in economic loss, the person may request the Minister of the Environment to conduct an investigation.  Where the Minister has caused an investigation to be made and a report prepared, and where the claimant and the person responsible for the injury or damage are not able to reach a settlement of the claim within 30 days after notice of the claim is given to the Minister, either party may refer the matter to the Board of Negotiation for settlement.  A board will be convened to negotiate with the parties.  If no settlement is reached, the parties can proceed to the courts for a solution to their problem.

What Happens at a Tribunal Hearing?

The procedure at a Tribunal hearing is court-like but less formal.

Both parties are given the opportunity to present their case to the Appeal Tribunal. Witnesses may be called to give sworn testimony. Each party also has the opportunity to cross-examine the other party's witnesses.

Documents may also be introduced into evidence at the hearing. Parties who are intending to introduce documents into evidence are required to provide copies to the Tribunal and other party(ies) in advance of the hearing. The Tribunal’s notice of hearing will indicate the date hearing materials are to be served and filed and the number of copies to be provided.

The decision of the Tribunal is given in writing, together with reasons for the decision, usually within 30 days of the completion of the hearing. However, that timeline is dependent upon the nature of the hearing and the volume of evidence and information that must be considered.

Procedure at a hearing is governed by the Statutory Powers and Procedure Act and the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure. Further information about preparing for a Tribunal hearing can be found on the Tribunal website by clicking on this link.

Do I Have to Hire a Lawyer?

No. A party may present its case personally or be represented by a lawyer. The decision to hire a lawyer is entirely up to the individual and is usually dependent upon the complexity and value of the matter at issue.

Where are Hearings Held?

Hearings on drainage issues are typically held in the municipality, usually the Municipal Office, where the appeal has been filed.

Hearings on other matters are held throughout the province. The practice of the Tribunal is that if the appellant resides within a two hour drive of the Tribunal office in Guelph, the hearing is held in Guelph. Every effort is made to have the hearing in a location convenient to all parties.

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