The WSIAT is saddened to announce that Ron Ellis, the founding Chair of the Tribunal, passed away on Sunday. This is a profound loss for many of those who knew Ron personally, for the Tribunal as an institution, and for the administrative justice and legal communities. We extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends.
From 1985 to 1997, Ron was the Chair of what was then the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal (WCAT). His visionary design of the Tribunal endures today, and he laid the foundation for our continued commitment to independence, impartiality, fairness, and reasoned decision-making. Ron created a strong framework to support these values, as described in the Tribunal’s First Annual Report. Known for his intellectual rigor and compelling writing style, Ron’s landmark decisions, such as Decision No. 915, continue to be influential. Guiding documents such as the Hallmarks of Quality Decision-Writing in 1989, cemented the Tribunal’s reputation as a leader among administrative tribunals.
Ron was also a co-founder of the Society of Ontario Adjudicators and Regulators (SOAR), establishing SOAR’s mandate to train adjudicators and regulators, and advocate on their behalf. He was also instrumental in forming the national independent body for appointed decision-makers, the Council of Canadian Administrative Tribunals (CCAT). After his tenure at the Tribunal, Ron continued his career as an eminent scholar and author, attaining his PhD and publishing a book and numerous articles on administrative justice.
Ron’s accomplishments and awards are also numerous, including the SOAR Medal in 1997, the Tom Marshall Award of Excellence from the Public Sector Lawyers Section in 2014, the Law Society Medal in 2020, and an interview for the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History Oral History Collection. His standing in the administrative law field is also reflected in Osgoode Hall’s annual Ron Ellis Prize in Administrative Law and the OBA’s annual Ron Ellis Award of Excellence in Workers’ Compensation. He was recently honoured by the Ontario Bar Association at a hybrid event on June 21, 2022, “The Legacy of Ron Ellis: A Symposium,” co-chaired by Julia Noble, Associate Counsel to the Chair.
Ron was a thoughtful leader, a kind human being, and a giant in the field of administrative law. He will be greatly missed, but all of us at the Tribunal are proud to honour Ron’s legacy by striving to uphold the high standards that he established.