I’m Ryan Fritsch, legal counsel with the Law Commission of Ontario.
I lead law reform projects looking at the impact of AI on Ontario’s criminal justice institutions; the need to modernize consumer protection law for terms of service contracts in the digital marketplace; and approaches to decolonizing health law for Indigenous communities in Ontario.
Check out all the highlights on LinkTree.
Over the summer I concluded provincial consultations on the need to to modernize consumer protection law for terms of service contracts in the digital marketplace. This fall I’m looking forward to sharing what we heard and our law and policy reform recommendations with the provincial government, who are set to introduce amendments to Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act this fall. That legislation was last significantly updated when Netflix mailed DVDs, YouTube didn’t exist, and Facebook was just for Harvard students. A lot has changed!
I also recently completed a big health law reform project reviewing laws in Ontario that shape palliative care, end-of-life care, and medical assistance in dying. We consulted over 800 people at 73 events and made 56 recommendations. A distinct Indigenous engagement process produced a report I’m very proud of. It charts over three dozen “intersections” between different Indigenous laws, practices, and beliefs and Crown law that create barriers and silence Indigenous approaches to individual and community health.
Earlier in the 2010’s I did a lot of mental health advocacy. I led Legal Aid Ontario’s effort to design and launch their first ever province-wide Mental Health Strategy, following a multi-year consultation and development process. Check it out. I was also in-house counsel at the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office, providing rights advice to over 40,000 in-patients a year and regularly intervening in systemic law reform and test cases.
It’s also a joy and a privilege to teach. In 2020 I finished a nine-year run teaching mental health law and advocacy at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law. In 2021 I was delighted to join Osgoode Hall Law School to teach mental health law in their Professional Health Law LLM Program, where I was deeply honored to be nominated for the teaching award that year. And in this most recent 2022-2023 semester I had the privilege of serving as acting academic director for Osgoode Hall’s Disability Law Intensive program in partnership with ARCH Disability Law Centre legal aid clinic.
Giving talks is also great. Our recent panel discussing ChatGPT and implications for the legal profession and access to justice had almost 2000 registrants. Other fun talks I’ve given include the LCO’s discussion about regulatory and litigation responses to artificial intelligence (December 2021), the National Judicial Institute look at AI in the Courtroom (May 2020) and the Law Society of Ontario’s Special Lecture Series on AI in the Practice of Law (November 2019). My favorite was back in 2017 when I asked Parliament to do better for criminally accused with mental health needs. Mostly though I was just thrilled to get a mention in the NY Times to advocate for some friends of mine. Woo!
The other big project has been building political consensus about the need to protect innocent people from background check discrimination. We did a lot of work with the police over the last few years, and the Ontario government introduced legislation to make it stick. And it’s now been proposed as a national standard by the Uniform Law Commission of Canada. Good stuff.
Most recently I’ve taken a fancy to board gaming with the fam, enjoying new titles like Karuba and Santorini and Unmatched that are great for kids and adults alike. Looking forward to the summer so I can get back to the park with my kids and enjoy a thermos mimosa in the sunshine.
Thanks for visiting!