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Making or Administering Law and Policy? Discretion and Judgment in Employment Standards Enforcement in Ontario

  • Eric Tucker (a1), Alan Hall (a2), Leah Vosko (a3), Rebecca Hall (a4) and Elliot Siemiatycki (a5)...

The purpose of this paper is to advance an approach to analyzing decision-making by front line public officials. The notion of discretion in front line decision-making has been examined widely in the law and society literature. However, it has often failed to capture the different kinds and levels of decisions that enforcement officials make. Taking an interdisciplinary approach that draws on political, sociological, and legal analysis, we propose a new conceptual framework, one that draws a sharper distinction between discretion and judgment and teases out distinct levels in the scope and depth of decision-making. We then use this framework to create a conceptual map of the decision-making process of front-line officials charged with enforcing the Employment Standards Act (ESA) of Ontario, demonstrating that a deeper, more precise analysis of discretion and judgment can contribute to a richer understanding of front line decision-making and its social, political, and legal implications.


Cette recherche a pour but de proposer une méthode d’analyse du processus décisionnel des fonctionnaires de première ligne. La notion de la discrétion dans la prise de décision de première ligne a été largement étudiée dans les domaines judiciaire et social. Toutefois, l’on n’a pas bien cerné les différents types et niveaux de décisions que prennent les responsables de l’application des lois. À l’aide d’une démarche interdisciplinaire s’inspirant d’analyses politiques, sociologiques et légales, nous proposons un nouveau cadre conceptuel qui fait la distinction entre la discrétion et le jugement et qui ventile les processus de prise de décision en fonction de leur envergure et profondeur. Nous employons ensuite ce cadre pour créer une carte conceptuelle des processus de prise de décision des fonctionnaires de première ligne chargés de l’application de la Loi sur les normes d’emploi de l’Ontario, démontrant qu’une analyse plus profonde et précise des notions de discrétion et de jugement peut contribuer à une meilleure compréhension du processus de prise de décision de première ligne et de ses répercussions sociales, politiques et légales.

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Canadian Journal of Law and Society / La Revue Canadienne Droit et Société
  • ISSN: 0829-3201
  • EISSN: 1911-0227
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-of-law-and-society-la-revue-canadienne-droit-et-societe
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