Public proceeding of the Board
Immigration and refugee law advisory committee: Meeting minutes for January 31, 2012
John McCamus, Michael Bossin, Raoul Boulakia, Gerri MacDonald, James McNee
Marcel Castonguay, Howard Eisenberg, Sean Rehaag
Legal Aid Ontario
Rod Strain, Maureen Murphy, Heather Morgan
2. Welcome and Introductions
The Chair opened the meeting.
3. Minutes, November 14, 2011
The minutes of the November 14, 2011 meeting were approved.
4. LAO Draft Consultation Plan: Reforming Refugee Legal Aid Services
- The Committee discussed a confidential draft consultation document prepared by LAO. The document had been revised by LAO following the previous committee meeting. The LAO Director, Policy, presented the revised consultation document, indicating that the presentation was based on the information currently available to LAO about the new legislation, and on the assumptions that the current version of Bill C-11 will be coming into force and that there will be no additional funding from the government. It was noted that LAO is aware that there have been rumours of changes to the legislation.
- LAO is aiming to prepare a series of options for the Board’s consideration by the end of March or early April. Consulting with the advisory committee is LAO’s first step in the consultation process. After taking advice from the committee, LAO will be seeking advice from other stakeholders. Written submissions will be entertained, if they are provided. LAO has also advised its funder, the Ministry, of what is in the consultation presentation. No decisions have been taken, and no changes will be made without Board approval. LAO may not be ready with a new model in June, since no infrastructure can be established while any uncertainty remains about the implementation of the new system, but LAO does need to be ready with a transition plan. By the time decisions have to be made, LAO may also have information about the federal and provincial budgets.
- It was suggested by a member that it could be helpful for LAO and the RLA to approach the federal government jointly with arguments in favour of scrapping the interview component of the new legislation. A joint appeal could be effective. A member offered to provide LAO with some suggested wording, highlighting the challenges associated with the interview process.
- The Chair noted that the interview component of the new system is not the only challenge that LAO faces. There is also the new Refugee Appeal Division (RAD), and the bottleneck of legacy cases. These will both add to LAO’s financial pressures. The LAO Director, Policy, added that LAO has already seen an increase in refugee law spending, going from historical spending levels of $15 million to $21 million. A member noted that the province had provided LAO with additional funding. The Chair responded that the new funding was tied to specific initiatives, such as the tariff increases, and was not to be used to deal with LAO’s financial pressures.
- Members were invited to provide their comments on the document. The discussion was identified as confidential and redacted from the minutes.
- LAO will reflect on the input from this meeting and will shortly provide the committee with a version of the consultation document that can be circulated to the membership of the RLA.
5. Other Business