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November 19, 2018

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PM #40762529 $5.00 • Vol. 29, No. 37 November 19, 2018 L AW TIMES C O V E R I N G O N T A R I O ' S L E G A L S C E N E • W W W . L A W T I M E S N E W S . C O M Refusal to define death disappoints lawyers Hugh Scher says he's unsure if there will be an appeal in a case that highlights the Charter right of protecting freedom of religion. Photo: Laura Pedersen DAMAGES AWARDED Hamilton police denounced for conduct P5 FEDERAL BILL C-75 Concerns flagged over access to justice P7 FOCUS ON Family Law P8 BY MEAGAN GILLMORE For Law Times A Superior Court justice has decided the question is moot when it comes to which death certificate for an Orthodox Jewish man is valid. Lawyers in Ontario say they are disappointed with a decision by Justice Glenn Hainey in Oua- nounou v. Humber River Hospi- tal on Nov. 9, because it does not provide further clarity about how to accommodate people whose religious beliefs about death are different from common medical views. "I'm disappointed that the court decided not to render a rul- ing upon the merits of the appli- cation," says Hugh Scher, founder of Scher Law PC in Toronto, who represented Ouanounou's fam- ily. Instead, the decision focused on whether or not the question of which of Ouanounou's death cer- tificates is valid was moot. This means the case cannot give the medical community fur- ther guidance about how to best accommodate people whose reli- gious beliefs say that someone re- mains alive even if a doctor has de- clared them brain dead, says Scher. Scher says he is not able to say if there will be an appeal. Any ap- peal, he told Law Times, would be on the basis of whether or not the issue is moot. Hainey's decision describes the case as "tragic." Shalom Oua- nounou was a devout Orthodox Jew who had an asthma attack at home on Sept. 27, 2017 and was then transported by ambulance to Humber River Hospital, the deci- sion says. He was put on life sup- port, and, on Sept. 30, 2017, critical care doctors declared him brain dead and a coroner issued a death certificate. Hainey's decision says the fam- ily objected to this because "in ac- cordance with Shalom's and their religious beliefs, Shalom was not considered to be dead under Jew- ish law until he stopped breathing and his heart stopped beating." According to the Nov. 9, 2018 decision, after doctors declared Ouanounou brain dead, the family requested a court order that Ouan- ounou remain on life support and his death certificate be rescinded, among other things. On Nov. 1, 2017, Hainey granted an interlocu- tory injunction ordering life support See Removal, page 4 Lawyers kick in funding to help PBO centres BY ANITA BALAKRISHNAN Law Times O ntario lawyers raised $150,000 in 10 days to fund Pro Bono Ontario, after the non-profit said it would not have enough money to run three legal help centres next year, despite holding meetings with multiple regulators over the past few months. "If the government isn't going to step up, we need to step up at the bar," says Brett Harrison, a partner in the litigation group at McMillan LLP as well as the firm's pro bono partner in the Toronto office. On Nov. 5, Pro Bono Ontario said a shortage of $500,000 meant three legal help centres in Toronto and Ottawa would cease opera- tions on Dec. 14. That means ending opera- tions at Law Help Centres, where lawyers volunteer at courthouses to help marginalized groups and unrepresented litigants navigate the justice system. Lawyers called on the Law Society of Ontario, the provincial Ministry of the Attor- ney General and the federal Min- ister of Justice to help with fund- ing, but as of Nov. 15, the LSO and federal government had made no commitments to funding the non- profit organization. The province of Ontario also explicitly said it would not make up the shortfall. In the meantime, lawyers organized efforts of their own to stop the closure of the cen- tres, which are located in Ottawa and Toronto. LSO senior communications advisor Susan Tonkin said in an emailed statement that the LSO was in contact with Pro Bono On- tario and "any updates will be pro- vided when available." Earlier this month, the law soci- ety said there were no plans to alter the law society's $50,000 annual contribution to Pro Bono Ontario as the law society had not received a request for additional funding from Pro Bono Ontario. The office of Ontario Attorney See Special, page 4 Follow Learn more at or call 1.800.653.0925 Untitled-2 1 2018-11-07 12:10 PM THE CANNABIS C C What are the implications of the Cannabis Act? Visit the website that provides reliable news, analysis, experts and resources for professionals looking for answers. Untitled-5 1 2018-11-13 3:21 PM Brett Harrison says the bar must face the reality that the provincial and federal govern- ments have not announced assistance for Pro Bono Ontario.

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