Publications & Resources
Meeting of the Board of Directors on April 20, 2012
Board Members Present:
John McCamus (Chair); Aly Alibhai; Nancy Cooper; Michelle Haigh; John Liston; James McNee; Derry Millar; Tim Murphy; James Yakimovich; Robert W. Ward, (CEO/Ex Officio)
Lee David; Kirsti Mathers-McHenry; Sue McCaffrey; Stephanie Mealing; Shelly Noble; Michelle Séguin; Rod Strain; Aneurin Thomas
1. Meeting Agenda
The agenda was approved.
2. Conflict of Interest
No conflict of interest was identified.
3. Chair’s Report
The Chair reported as follows:
Sidney B. Linden Award
The Chair reported that the Sidney B. Linden award selection process and presentation ceremony event planning are underway.
Board Advisory Committees
- The Chair reported that the Spring Board Advisory Committee process is under way. He noted that, to date, Immigration and Refugee Law and Clinic Law advisory committee meetings were held and that the discussions were friendly, but spirited.
- The Chair reported that the Immigration and Refugee Advisory Committee held a second meeting in February 2012 to discuss changes contemplated by the new legislation and LAO’s cost containment initiatives. He advised that the Advisory Committee has been made aware that changes are ahead with respect to a restructuring of LAO’s immigration and refugee service delivery model, pending further clarity of the new legislation.
French Language Services (FLS)
The Chair reported on his attendance at the Francophone Stakeholder Summit, at which time the Commissioner specifically singled out LAO’s FLS Program Manager for commendation.
Meetings to Discuss Access to Justice and Legal Aid Issues
The Chair reported that he met with a law school professor as well as two former defence counsel (now justices of the Ontario Court of Justice) to discuss legal aid issues in the criminal courts.
The Future of Articling
The Chair reported on a meeting with the Law Society of Upper Canada regarding a potential new articling program necessitated by the growth in the number of law school graduates. He reported on the options for alternative articling streams, including practical training programs, and potential funding. The Board agreed that LAO should be willing to assist where possible.
Lawyer Workforce Strategy
The Chair reported that LAO was recently questioned at an Advisory Committee meeting about the Lawyer Workforce Strategy (LWS). The Vice-President and General Counsel confirmed to the Board that LWS positions at LAO are in great demand and applicants see the benefits of exposure to a variety of areas of law, and that LWS rotations provide a better experiential base for moving to senior management levels.
Social Justice Tribunals
The Chair reported that he and the President met with the Chair of the Cluster of Social Justice Tribunals to discuss plans for various tribunals under the present leadership and reorganization proposals. He noted that LAO will consult with individual Tribunal Chairs to discuss their future plans and their potential impact on service delivery models.
Attorney General for Ontario
The Chair reported that he and the President met with the new Attorney General for Ontario. He reported that LAO has invited the Attorney General to attend a meeting of the Board of Directors.
Correctional Law Program
The Chair reported on his meeting with Queen’s University Law Dean, to discuss potential expansion of the Correctional Law Program at Queen’s University. He reported that Queen’s is undertaking an assessment of its clinic programs, including the SLASS and Correctional Law Program.
Proactive Disclosure of Expenses
The Chair disclosed his expenses incurred from February, 2012 to present.
Administration of Oath/Affirmation of Allegiance
The Board Chair administered the Oath/Affirmation of Allegiance to the members of the LAO Board of Directors, including the President and CEO. Each Board member swore/affirmed the oath as administered.
Administration of Oath/Affirmation of Office
The Board Chair administered the Oath/Affirmation of Office to the members of the LAO Board of Directors, including the President and CEO. Each Board member swore/affirmed the oath as administered.
A motion was made and carried that the Board receive the Chair’s Report.
4. President and CEO’s Report (receive)
The President and CEO presented the second instalment of the President’s Report, and highlighted the following:
Strategic Planning and Compliance
The President reported on the restructuring of the Strategic Planning and Compliance Department. He noted that the responsibility for Investigations and Compliance divisions will be assumed by General Counsel, as General Counsel has direct access to the Board of Directors, to ensure best practice. He advised that other areas, i.e. Project Management, Strategic Planning, etc. will be the responsibility of a new Director to be retained under a secondment agreement. He noted that this position will not warrant a Vice-President designation.
Major Case Management Litigation
The President reported on a case involving a murder where the accused was unable to retain local counsel to represent him for a variety of reasons. He reported that LAO provided the services of a senior staff lawyer to defend the accused at trial. He noted that the defence was conducted in an effective and efficient matter, as noted by the trial Judge.
The President reported that the proposed refugee legislation amendments are frequently being modified; however, LAO is continuing its cost containment efforts. He noted the plan to reassess eligibility for certificate services. He reported that the program currently has expenditures of $21 million, and that the federal government contributes $7 million towards these services.
Meeting with Audit Team re: Value for Money Audit of MAG Criminal Law Division
The President reported that he, the Chair, the Vice-President, Policy, Research and External Relations and the Vice-President, Case Management and Litigation, met with the audit team from the Auditor General’s Office with respect to a value for money audit of the MAG Criminal Law Division.
French Language Services Initiative
The President reported that LAO is now recognized as an active participant in the promotion of French Language Services in Ontario and was cited as a “best practice” by the Commissioner.
The President highlighted LAO’s paralegal student legal aid arrangement with Humber College. He reported that in the spring of 2012, LAO will employ approximately six to eight individual paralegals through this program.
A motion was made and carried that the Board receive the President and CEO’s Report.
1. Minutes of Audit and Finance Committee Meetings
Minutes of March 21, 2012 (adopt)
A motion was made and carried that the Board adopt the Minutes of the Audit and Finance Committee meeting held March 21, 2012.
1. 2012-13 Budget (approve)
The President and CEO presented the 2012/13 Annual Operating Budget and Financial Estimates for 2013/14 and 2014/15. He reported that the Budget was received by the Audit and Finance Committee on March 21, 2012, but it has been added to this Board agenda to provide a final opportunity for discussion prior to formal approval. He highlighted the fundamentals of the budget as follows:
- The 2013-14 Annual Operating Budget reflects a continuation of LAO’s modernization strategy.
- LAO finished the fiscal year at near to a balanced budget position.
- For next year, LAO is projecting an overall operating deficit similar to what was approved last year.
- It is expected that LAO will have sufficient cash to cover all expenses.
- The Discretion Project is expected to have a positive financial impact.
- The Board discussed:
- The need to address the accountability for financing the out-year, unfunded tariff increases.
- The potential financial impact of the proposed Financial Eligibility Increase initiative.
- The status of the accumulated deficit.
- The reduction in certificates and the adverse reaction of the criminal defence bar. The President reported that LAO’s response is that resources must be deployed in the most cost-effective manner. The President advised that overall LAO does not expect a significant decrease and that certificate expenditures have in fact increased. He also noted that the certificate lawyers received another 5% tariff increase April 1.
The President and CEO reported that there are potential savings to off-set the $3.7 operating deficit
A motion was made and carried that the Board approve the 2012/13 Annual Operating Budget and receive the Financial Estimates for 2013/14 and 2014/15 .
2. Clinic Strategic Planning Process – LAO’s Contribution (approve)
- The President and CEO reported that LAO’s contribution to the Clinic Strategic Planning Process is the third in a series of papers for discussion with clinics and others regarding the process of modernization and transformation. He advised that the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario (ACLCO) acquired funding from the Law Foundation of Ontario (LFO) to finance a visioning process for the future, with assistance from consultants. He advised that this paper is LAO’s contribution to the visioning discussion and is intended not as a directive, but as an invitation for clinics to consider some mainstream ideas for best practice in clinic law service delivery going forward. He noted the plan for on-going consultation.
- The Director, Strategic Research, presented the Report on LAO’s Contribution to the Clinic Strategic Visioning Process. He noted that the clinic system has not changed fundamentally since its inception, and must consider structural change to meet current and future client needs. He advised that this paper provides modernization guideposts for consideration by the ACLCO and individual clinics.
- The President and CEO advised of an upcoming meeting with the consultants and the ACLCO and that a communication strategy is in development.
A motion was made and carried that the Board:
a) receive the Paper entitled LAO’s Contribution to the Clinic Strategic Visioning Process,
b) approve the draft submission to the visioning process, and
c) authorize the LAO Chair and the President to use their judgment in the modification of wording in the Paper in response to any MAG concerns, without tempering its message or its tone.
3. Mental Health Justice Strategy Proposal (receive)
- The President and CEO reported that clients with mental health issues are particularly vulnerable and traditionally under-served within the justice system. He advised that LAO is working on a strategy to improve client service in that area of law.
- The Director, Policy, presented the Mental Health Justice Strategy Proposal. He reported that the proposed strategy will build on the lessons learned from the Aboriginal Justice Strategy and the French Language Services Initiative, and will establish short-term initiatives as well as long-range goals. He noted that the project will be co-ordinated with all levels of government. He reviewed the mental health services that LAO currently provides. He advised that research will be undertaken to illustrate how different areas of law intersect with each other and how LAO can serve its mental health clients more holistically. He highlighted the advice received from stakeholders. He reported that the goal is to assist in replenishing the bar with lawyers and others who can provide quality representation to clients with mental health issues.
- The Chair noted the benefits of seeking the advice of the membership of the Prison Law and Mental Health Law Advisory Committees.
A motion was made and carried that the Board receive the Mental Health Justice Strategy Proposal.
4. Appointment of Northwest District Area Director (approve)
A Board member suggested that LAO seek an amendment to section 22(3) of the Legal Aid Services Act to make District Area Director appointments the responsibility of the President and CEO.
A motion was made and carried that the Board appoint Tracy Roll as the District Area Director for the Northwest District, pursuant to section 22(3) of the Legal Aid Services Act, 1998.
5. Board Training Survey Results (receive)
The Vice-President and General Counsel presented the Report on Board Learning Needs. She reviewed the results of the online survey, the conclusions and recommendations for next steps.
A motion was made and carried that the Board approve the next steps in the Board learning and development process.
6. Strategic Planning Items (for discussion)
Alternative Funding Suggestions
- Board members discussed the feasibility of alternative funding sources.
- The Chair noted that research will be undertaken by the Financial Eligibility Study Group to determine how increased eligibility can be funded.
A motion was made and carried that the meeting adjourn.