Public proceedings of the Board

Publications & Reources

Meeting of the Board of Directors on December 7, 2012


Board Members

John McCamus (Chair); Aly Alibhai; Nancy Cooper; Michelle Haigh; John Liston; James McNee; Derry Millar; James Yakimovich; Robert W. Ward, (CEO/Ex Officio)


Christopher Bennett; Randall Ellsworth; Nancy Jackson; Sue McCaffrey; David McKillop; Stephanie Mealing; Michelle Séguin; Nye Thomas


Tim Murphy

Opening Items

1. Meeting Agenda

The Meeting Agenda was approved.

2. Conflict of Interest

No conflict of interest was identified.

Committee Reports

1. Clinic Committee Meeting, October 12, 2012

The President and CEO reported that the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario (ACLCO) has requested regular meetings with members of the Clinic Committee of the Board and have also asked to see a copy of the Clinic Committee Terms of Reference. Board members unanimously agreed that it would be inappropriate to use Clinic Committee meetings as a forum for interaction with individual stakeholder groups. The Board Chair advised that he received further correspondence from the ACLCO arguing that the statute provides for “special status” for clinics.

Minutes of October 12, 2012 Clinic Committee Meeting


A motion was made and carried that the minutes of the Clinic Committee meeting held October 12, 2012 be adopted.

Audit and Finance Committee Meeting, November 7, 2012


A motion was made and carried that the minutes of the Audit and Finance Committee meeting held November 7, 2012 be adopted.

Retreat and Strategic Planning Items

1. LAO Vision Paper and Annual Business Plan

  • The President and CEO reported that the latest draft contains direction from the Board of Directors and the Audit and Finance Committee. He noted that the Business Plan will be submitted before the deadline. He advised that the Business Plan is accompanied by a 4 page Summary (“chapeau”) for purposes of public communication. He added that the provincial government has instructed agencies to create a public version of their business plans. He advised that staff is requesting final approval of the Plan so that it can be submitted to the Ministry.
  • The Director General, Strategic Planning, presented the final version of the Annual Business Plan. She reported that the government directive requires agencies to submit a three-year Business Plan. She noted that parts of LAO’s Plan extend to five years because of wider tariff pressure. She noted that this year’s Business Plan instructions contain two additional reporting requirements, i.e. inclusion of a report on diversity and the creation of a public version of the Business Plan. She presented some of the Plan highlights as follows:
    • the Plan builds on last year’s four quadrants
    • the Plan includes a strategy in the event of boycotts
    • fiscal sustainability forms part of the mandate.
    • the Plan contains public reporting on performance measures.
  • She noted that risk reporting is required in the Business Plan and she highlighted the following areas of risk:
  • stakeholder response to modernization
  • financial risk
  • potential future boycotts
  • IT issues
  • The Board discussed the order of the four quadrants, i.e., whether value for clients should be listed first before value for taxpayers.
  • A Board member suggested that wording be added to the performance measures section indicating that the figures do not include clinics. The President and CEO advised that an independent clinic performance measurement project is underway.
  • A Board member requested a briefing on the status of IT. The President and CEO noted that the challenge is to have LAO’s long term business and IT strategies move together seamlessly. He undertook to bring an update report to the Board on future plans for IT equipment and technology.
  • She advised that LAO’s diversity plan is being used as an example for others.


A motion was made and carried that the Board adopt the Business Plan for 2013/14-2016/17.

2. Clinic Modernization Strategy

  • The President and CEO advised that staff have prepared a series of proposals on clinic transformation under the leadership of the Regional Vice President for the North, Central and Eastern Regions. He noted that this would be a multi-year initiative, but that starting in April 2013, LAO will address some of the obvious and less controversial clinic reforms, i.e. reduce overlap/duplication, increase transparency, improve the LAO-clinic relationship and reframe the relevant policies. He advised that the ultimate goal will be a more streamlined poverty law delivery system. He indicated that the draft Clinic Modernization Strategy Report sets out a series of alternatives and does not make any specific recommendations at this time.
  • The President and CEO reported that, upon receipt of the ACLCO’s strategic planning report, LAO will identify any possible convergences and gaps with LAO’s strategy, and present a thematic version of the framework to the Board of Directors early in 2013. He reported that a consultation process dealing with the potential streamlining of poverty law services will commence, with clinics and other stakeholders.

3. Financial Eligibility

  • The President and CEO remarked that this presentation is a continuation of the Board’s previous direction to staff to analyze and develop a strategy for improved financial eligibility. He noted also that the LAO Board Chair is a member of a Financial Eligibility Study Group comprised of internal and external professionals who meet regularly to examine and discuss financial eligibility issues.
  • The Director General, Policy and Strategic Research, noted the two branches of this initiative:
    • Empirical research – how many people are eligible compared with low income levels – who are LAO’s clients?
    • Policy work – broader issues, such as funding options, pilot projects, etc.
  • He noted that certificate, duty counsel and clinic eligibility guidelines have remained static for many years. He highlighted the actual and projected expanding gap between the rising low income measure (LIM) and the static LAO eligibility criteria for the period 1996 to 2016. He noted that in 1996, 18% of the population were eligible for legal aid while LIM was around 16%. He reported that by the year 2016, at the current eligibility guidelines, LIM will remain at around 16%, however only 6.7% of the population will be eligible for legal aid. He reported that the population of Ontario is increasing and there is additional demand; however, LAO is serving a smaller share of the population. He reviewed some demographics, i.e., the impact on single person and family households and on different genders. He noted that empirical analysis has been undertaken and a detailed report will be brought back to the Board in the new year for direction and next steps.
  • The Director General highlighted the policy analysis. He advised that the Auditor General noted in the LAO value-for-money audit that LAO’s financial eligibility is in the bottom third, compared with the rest of Canada. He reported on the recent Ontario Civil Needs Assessment which identified people who are above the eligibility guidelines and who are different from the welfare community but who still have legal needs that they cannot afford to retain counsel to address.
  • The Board discussed concerns regarding self-representation and its impact on the justice system as a whole.
  • The Board discussed the vulnerability of women and children and the need to identify the frequency of situations of family violence.
  • The Chair noted that the initial research package is close to completion and will be available in the new year. He advised that the Financial Eligibility Study Group is now researching alternative models for expanding eligibility.
  • The Board discussed timing for communication into the public domain.
  • The Board discussed ways to ensure that any surpluses are allocated to enhanced financial eligibility and not to funding the out-year unfunded tariff increase.
  • The Board discussed the differences in eligibility screening by duty counsel and by clinics.


A motion was made and carried that the Board receive the Report on the LAO Financial Eligibility Study.

4. Executive Succession Planning

  • The Manager, Human Resources presented the Report on Succession Planning. He reviewed the succession planning process and noted that, while the focus of the report is on CEO succession, it also addresses executive succession planning throughout the organization. He highlighted the milestones including:
    • Creating of a Board succession planning policy
    • Establishing an action plan
    • Determining required skills and attributes
    • Determining if requisite talent resides within LAO or externally
    • Considering various candidates
    • Selecting a successor
    • Ensuring a smooth transition
  • He noted that LAO is at the beginning of the process and he highlighted the topics for consideration.
  • The Board discussed developing a policy and assigning a sub-committee of Board members to engage in succession planning with regular input from the President and CEO.
  • The Board discussed the benefits of developing internal resources and supporting potential candidates in upgrading their skills.
  • The Board discussed the need to include a catastrophic plan in the succession planning policy and to have a candidate available to take charge in such an event.
  • The Board discussed the advantages of retaining executive search firms.
  • The President and CEO noted that LAO has excellent talent at the Vice President level and that he would recommend to the Board that training programs be integrated into the succession planning policy.
  • The Board discussed a possible 360 review to determine what staff and key external stakeholders such as MAG and the Law Society of Upper Canada see as essential components for the CEO position.
  • The Board agreed that succession planning for executive positions other than the CEO is the responsibility of the President. However, the President and CEO would welcome the Board’s involvement and advice.
  • The Board agreed that the Chair will assume responsibility for the creation of a succession planning policy to be brought back to the Board for approval.


A motion was made and carried that the Board receive the Report on Succession Planning.

5. Executive Management Risk Report

The Vice President and General Counsel presented the Executive Management Risk Report. She noted that the heat maps presented to date have demonstrated a more impressionistic, top-of-mind type of risk reporting and that more sophisticated reporting is required. She reported that LAO is implementing more objectives-based risk reporting supported by operational activities and/or projects and measured by key performance indicators. She presented one possible manner of depicting LAO’s risk exposure, which would show where risks are above a pre-established risk tolerance level and at, or below, LAO’s risk tolerance level. She concluded that, after the Board training session on enterprise risk management, staff will seek direction from the Board on the future risk reporting format.


A motion was made and carried that the Board receive the Executive Management Risk Report.