Beth Symes, Partner
Beth practices administrative law and civil litigation in the areas of equality rights, professional regulation, labour and employment law and human rights. Beth is a graduate of the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University and was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1978.
In 1988, Beth was appointed as the first Chair of the Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Council of Administrative Tribunals (CCAT), was a founder of the Conference of Ontario Boards and Agencies (COBA) and is a founding member of the Society of Ontario Adjudicators and Regulators (SOAR).
She is one of the founding members of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) and served on its National Legal Committee.
Beth co-authored Women and Legal Action and Juggling: Women, Work and Parenting and has written numerous articles on administrative law and equality issues.
Beth is currently the First Vice President of the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice and has also served as the First Vice Chair and the Chair of the Membership Committee.
Beth was awarded the Law Society of Upper Canada Medal in 1996 and was the Gordon F. Henderson Lecturer in Human Rights in 2003.
She is a Bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada and is the Vice Chair of the Proceedings Authorization Committee and Co-Chair of the Return to Practice Working Group.She is currently running for reelection. Beth also serves on the Task Force for the Retention of Women in the Legal Profession.
As counsel, she has represented individuals and organizations before all levels of courts asserting Charter claims. She represented CARAL in its intervention before the Supreme Court of Canada in G v. Winnipeg Child and Family Services, which involved the medical incarceration of a pregnant aboriginal woman who was sniffing solvents and in Dobson v. Dobson, a New Brunswick case where a child was suing his mother for injuries he suffered as a foetus as a result of her negligence. She was co-counsel in MARC’s intervention in R. v. Conway, involving an inmate who objected to female correctional officers.
Beth represented the Medical Staff Association in the government’s attempt to shut down Women’s College Hospital. She was one of the counsel representing a number of persons who challenged the Harris government’s 21.6% cuts to social assistance.
She was counsel for the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) that challenged landlords’ use of rent-to-income criteria to screen potential clients.
Beth has written and spoken extensively in the areas of administrative law, equality and employment issues. She instructed at Osgoode Hall Faculty of Law in Trial Practice, as a team leader in the Intensive Trial Advocacy Program, taught Economic Regulation in the LLM program at Osgoode and taught Constitutional Litigation for the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario.
In 1985 Beth challenged Revenue Canada seeking to deduct the costs of her childcare as a business expense. Although successful at the trial level, in 1993 the Supreme Court of Canada split on gender lines, and refused her the deduction saying that distinction between those who incur child care expenses and those who do not is not a distinction on the basis of sex.
On December 30, 2010, Beth was named a Member of the Order of Canada for her contributions as a champion of women’s rights in the legal profession.
In August, 2011, Beth was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 25 Women of Influence for her successful achievements and contribution to Canadian and global economies as well as to her communities by Women of Influence Magazine.
Beth kayaks and snow shoes on Georgian Bay.