With just under $5 Million out the door already, and the public part of the enquiry not even started yet; a City staff report says it is almost certain that the Red Hill Judicial enquiry will exceed its original $7 Million budget. The City completed its document production process on July 13, 2020, producing a total of 56,549 documents responsive to the Terms of Reference and the Commissioner’s request for information, which consists of nearly 50 categories of documents
Since July 2020, Commission Counsel received the complete productions of all of the other Participants to the Inquiry, except for the Province of Ontario.
On November 18, 2020 Commission Counsel gave the Participants access to a database consisting of the majority of the documents that were provided to Commission Counsel. It is expected more documents will be coming to add to the database.
Commission Counsel is in the process of reviewing approximately 10,000 documents from the Province and will receive additional tranches of documents from the Province. Staff expect to receive a tranche of approximately 7,000 documents from the Province in the next few weeks.
The commission has asked the City to produce even more documents and it sounds like complying with the quest is going to eat up more lawyer fees.
On October 23, 2020, Commission Counsel provided the City’s external counsel with a list of 36 current and former City employees that Commission Counsel wishes to interview. The interviews will be scheduled for a time after the document production process is complete and once the City’s external counsel has an opportunity to review the productions from the other Participants.
With all of these balls in the air, the staff report says, “It is difficult to estimate when the Hearing portion of the Inquiry will commence as the Participants have yet to complete the document production process. As detailed above, at this time, we do not know when the document production process will be completed. This will largely depend on when the Province will complete its productions and once the City’s external counsel receives and responds to Commission Counsel’s request for further documents and information. Given the progress of the Inquiry to date, we estimate that the Hearing may commence later in the spring of 2021.
And regarding the cost of the enquiry, “Based on the fees incurred to date, our projection of future costs, and the delays resulting from the document production process, it is unlikely that the cost of the Inquiry will be under $7 M. External counsel will be in a position to provide updated cost projections once the document production process is complete and a time frame is established for the commencement of the Inquiry Hearing.”