Government of Canada announces Unified Family Court appointments in the province of Ontario
May 3, 2019 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada
The Government of Canada is committed to promoting access to justice for all Canadians.
The family justice system should be accessible to all Canadians and easy to navigate even during difficult times. That is why the Government of Canada is continuing to support a unified family court system. This model emphasizes constructive resolutions, supported by specialized family justice services, to achieve lasting and timely outcomes for families.
Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced the following appointments to support the expansion of Unified Family Courts in Ontario.
Mary Anne Kril, sole practitioner at M.A.K. Family Law, is appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario, a member of the Family Court Branch and a Judge ex officio of the Court of Appeal for Ontario.
Diana Piccoli, Partner at SV Law, is appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario, a member of the Family Court Branch and a Judge ex officio of the Court of Appeal for Ontario.
Jennifer Breithaupt Smith, sole practitioner at Breithaupt Law, is appointed a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario, a member of the Family Court branch and a Judge ex officio of the Court of Appeal for Ontario.
Justice Kril is a first-generation Canadian of Ukrainian descent. She did her undergraduate work at Queen’s University, graduating with the Gold Medal in Sociology. She went on to earn a Master of Arts degree and began her PhD studies before deciding that she needed to learn a trade. She chose the law and graduated from the University of Toronto with prizes in administrative and family law and a three-month-old baby boy. She was awarded the Treasurer’s Medal for the highest standing in the Bar Admission Course and went on to practise commercial litigation with a leading firm in Toronto.
After spending two years at home raising her new baby daughter (now a second year veterinary student at Guelph University), Justice Kril returned to the practice of law in Oakville, Ontario and focused on family law. She remained with O’Connor Macleod Hanna for 17 years before embarking on her own family law practice in 2009. Last year, her son Michael (now a seasoned lawyer in his own right) joined her in forming a new partnership.
Justice Kril has acted as a Dispute Resolution Officer for the Superior Court in Milton since the inception of the program and, in 2016, was the first woman to receive the Award of Excellence from the Halton County Law Association.
Justice Kril lives in Oakville with her husband, the now retired Justice Terrance O’Connor.
Justice Piccoli graduated from the University of Waterloo in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. After obtaining her LL.B. from the University of Ottawa, in May 1993, she articled at a small firm in Kitchener, Ontario and was called to the bar in February 1995. Justice Piccoli returned to the Kitchener firm to start her practice, gaining diverse experience with a variety of family law cases and civil cases involving assaults against children. In 1997, she started working in her hometown of Guelph, Ontario with the firm Valeriote, Valeriote which subsequently merged with Smith Smith in 2001. Justice Piccoli has been a partner at SmithValeriote Law Firm LLP since 2001. Throughout her career, Justice Piccoli has mentored many young lawyers. She has always been inspired to help others in the community and in her profession. Justice Piccoli has served on a number of boards in her community including Women In Crisis, Family and Children’s Services and the Foundation of the Guelph General Hospital. Children hold a special place in her heart and she was a panel member of the Office of the Children’s lawyer for a number of years. Justice Piccoli’s practice has primarily been focussed in the area of Family Law. She places great importance on family, friends and community and is the proud mother of two amazing young women.
Following her undergraduate studies at Queen’s University, Justice Breithaupt Smith graduated from Western University Law and was called to the bar in 2003. Jennifer’s early practice at a litigation firm in Waterloo shaped her career. In January of 2007, Jennifer opened her own firm in Kitchener and joined the Office of the Children’s Lawyer’s panel in 2015. Child-centred family law was her litigation focus.
At the time of her appointment Justice Breithaupt Smith sat on the board of The Advocates Society (TAS), where her enthusiasm for professional development started during her time as a student. In 2009, she developed her own Law Society of Upper Canada-accredited programming, and soon thereafter she became Education Co-ordinator for Waterloo Region’s vibrant family law practice group, producing multiple programs annually. Justice Breithaupt Smith co-chaired TAS’ Courthouse Series from 2008 until her appointment, adding a companion Criminal Courthouse Series in 2010. Most recently she is very proud to have been instrumental in developing “Braiding Diversity Into Justice,” the Ontario Justice Education Network’s newest flagship program which seeks to attract diverse young women to law-related careers.
Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is a guiding principle for Justice Breithaupt Smith. She is honoured to have been asked to attend Circle for her child clients and to have served as a Director of Healing of the Seven Generations, Waterloo Region’s pre-eminent Indigenous cultural healing organization.
Her deep local roots compelled Justice Breithaupt Smith to engage in many community initiatives from chairing a Kitchener City Council Advisory Committee to teaching karate. She and her husband are proud to raise their son in their shared hometown.
To improve outcomes for Canadian families, Budget 2018 provided $77.2 million over four years to support the expansion of Unified Family Courts, beginning in 2019-2020, and $20.8 million per year ongoing. This investment in the family justice system will create 39 new judicial positions for Unified Family Courts in Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Unified Family Courts allow families to resolve legal issues in a single court rather than in two separate court systems, and create a user-friendly environment with judges specialized in family law.
Provincial governments establish the court structure and are responsible for the administrative costs associated with Unified Family Courts. The federal government appoints and pays the judges in these courts.
The Government of Canada’s commitment to expand Unified Family Courts was included in the Minister of Justice’s mandate letter in November 2015.
Federal judicial appointments are made by the Governor General, acting on the advice of the federal Cabinet and recommendations from the Minister of Justice.
For more information, media may contact:
Attachée de presse
Cabinet du ministre de la Justice
Department of Justice Canada
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