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Mediation Advocacy Task Force

ADRIA's Organizational Members


The ADR Institute of Alberta (ADRIA) established the Mediation Advocacy Task Force to study how mediators are compensated in Alberta and across Canada with the goal of creating long-term collaborative initiatives to address this issue. 

The Task force completed a white paper in the spring of 2016 to inform the discussion around mediator compensation. The paper was presented to the ADRIA Board of Directors and the Board is now seeking a feedback from members, stakeholders, and partners, before determining its response to the recommendations. The feedback will be examined over the summer and the Board will develop an action plan in the fall of 2016.

ADRIA Mediation Task Force White Paper (pdf)

ADRIA Mediation Task Force White Paper Appendices (pdf)


The following is a condensed version of the Executive Summary.  For more detailed information please see the White Paper and Appendices links above.

Background

The ADRIA Task Force was established in April 2014 to examine how mediators are compensated and to produce a white paper to document its findings and make recommendations.

The task force explored and researched mediator compensation, how it relates to pro bono activities, and its impact on the mediation profession and practices by:

  • examining the value of mediation services by reviewing government, regulatory, and community programs, mediation rosters, and private organizations. 
  • reviewing relevant studies 
  • surveying members of ADRIA and the ADR Institute of Canada, and other professional organizations

Key Findings

  1. The bulk of evidence and research shows mediation as a cost-effective and robust way of resolving disputes and conflicts in a variety of professional and personal settings, and yet there are inconsistencies and challenges in how mediation is perceived and compensated.
  2. Compensation for mediation services ranges from no payment (volunteer) to several hundred dollars per hour or more.
  3. Relatively few mediators are able to earn a living from the practice of mediation alone.
  4. Mediators earning higher incomes from their mediation practices are primarily those who complement their primary occupation (commonly law), with mediation.
  5. Survey respondents expressed concern that volunteer or honorarium mediation may devalue the financial viability of the mediation profession, and may lead to the expectation the service should be free.
  6. Compensation for mediators who conduct Civil Claims mediations for provincial justice departments is inconsistent across the four provinces surveyed.
  7. In Alberta, 78% of survey respondents either provide or would like to provide some pro bono mediation service, sometimes to gain experience or to contribute to society
  8. There appears to be little regulation or consistency around training and credentialing within the mediation profession. There is no regulation around who can become or who can call themselves a mediator. To address this, associations like the ADR Institute of Canada (ADRIC) and the Alberta Family Mediation Society (AFMS) have introduced credentialing programs that implement standards for practice. There is membership interest in exploring regulation of the profession to establish standards of practice and protection for clients.
  9. Alberta ADRIC members hold proportionally more designations than their peers in other jurisdictions.
  10. There appears to be little recognition or understanding of the value of designations by hiring organizations or the public.
  11. Mediators want more opportunities to work in their field and want to be compensated in a way that reflects their training, skills, and experience.
  12. The percentage of mediators who are seeking and would accept more paid work is higher in Alberta than for mediators who participated in the Task Force's national survey.
  13. Mediation seems to be a secondary or second career that attracts older practitioners.
  14. The findings of the ADRIA Task Force surveys mirror findings in the United Sates and elsewhere when it comes to the financial viability of the profession, the lack of paid work for mediators, the lack of awareness by the public in the value of ADR (Appropriate or Alterative Dispute Resolution), and that the highest levels of compensation are received by only a few. Some of the literature suggested there may be an oversupply of mediators.
  15. In an effort to exchange information, share best practices, and support ADR as a viable option to resolve disputes, the court mediation programs in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have formed a task group which has requested feedback from stakeholders on how to promote mediation and ADR.
  16. A significant number of Alberta survey respondents feel ADRIA should advocate on their behalf in public relations, education, compensation for mediators, roster development, pursuing regulation of the profession, providing mentoring to new mediators and pursuing alliances with other mediation associations. This mirrors findings in the United States.

Summary of Recommendations

The Task Force recommends that the ADRIA Board of Directors adopt a multi-faceted, long-term, and progressive approach to advocate for the mediation profession in Alberta through the following objectives:
  1. Increase Awareness - ensure Albertans are more aware of mediation (and other ADR options) and how such options can provide for less costly and more satisfying outcomes to disputes that arise in their personal and professional lives.
  2. Increase Access and Use of Mediation (ADR First) - increase the use of mediation as a dispute resolution option available to Albertans by putting forth initiatives with the courts, government agencies, regulatory bodies, municipal bodies, professional associations, organized labour, industry groups, non-profits, and the business community to create new mainstream opportunities for mediation and ADR.
  3. Advance the Business Case for ADR - Promote the economic argument for mediation and ADR to demonstrate the value they provide to increase investment in mediation and opportunities for mediators.
  4. Enhance the Value of the Mediation Profession - 
    • Advocate for fair and appropriate compensation
    • Support excellent training and education;
    • Ensure proper credentialing 
  5. Protect the Public - Continue providing national standards, recognized designations, and ongoing quality assurance and complaint policies through the ADR Institutes of Alberta and Canada.

ADRIA Board of Directors’ Response to the White Paper Recommendations (June 2017)

The White Paper’s overarching recommendations and actions have been formally endorsed by the ADR Institute of Alberta’s Board of Directors following extensive consultation with stakeholders and members.  These have been further detailed and structured into completed/initiated, short-term and long-term activities, and presented as an action plan in table format.

The Board commits to advancing the viability of mediation as a recognized skill, and enhancing the potential for professional levels of compensation.  The Board recognizes the generous nature of its membership, and the social value of pro-bono and low-bono mediation activities.  The Board will, however, strive to promote the long-term sustainability of the profession by seeking improvements to any compensation mechanism that currently or potentially undervalues the skills and requisite training.

The Board recognizes that it lacks the resources to achieve these objectives alone, and must look to its membership, stakeholders, collaborative partners and the public to achieve the desired outcomes.  To this end, the action plan is organized by stakeholder communities.  

The ADRIA Board of Directors will add Advocacy as a regular agenda item to their Board meetings, assess changing circumstances and opportunities as they arise, review and update the action plan, monitor progress, select or sustain appropriate advocacy action items, identify collaborative partners, and take concrete actions as a Board to advance the practice and profession of mediation.

The Board has adopted an approach to mediation advocacy that will be strategic and forceful.  The Board will embrace new opportunities as they arise, be mindful of changing circumstances in government and/or the economy, and be willing to move in new and appropriate directions as circumstances permit over the next several years.

The Board wishes to thank again all of the task force volunteers who provided countless hours to this project, and worked together to produce an exceptional white paper with meaningful recommendations.  The Board would particularly like to recognize and thank the Co-Chairs Joanne Munro and Wendy Hassen for their leadership and tireless efforts in this regard.

The Board is committed to recording and sharing its successes, challenges and failures with the ADRIA membership and our collaborative partners in a meaningful and ongoing fashion.

For more information about the Board of Directors' Mediation Advocacy Action Plan, or to view the matrix of activities, contact board@adralberta.com         


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