Public proceedings of the Board

Meeting of the Board of Directors on October 23, 2015


Board members present

John McCamus (Chair), Christa Freiler, Michelle Haigh, John Liston, James McNee, Derry Millar, Michel Robillard, James Yakimovich, Robert W. Ward (CEO/Ex Officio)


David Field, Ryan Fritsch, Jawad Kassab, Felice Lambermont, Sue McCaffrey, David McKillop, Stephanie Mealing, Marcus Pratt, Michelle Séguin

1. Meeting agenda

The Meeting agenda was approved.

2. Conflict of interest

No conflict of interest was identified.

3. Board meetings

3.1 Decision

The minutes of the Board meetings held June 18, June 19, July 3 and September 8, 2015 were adopted.

4. Chair’s report

4.1 Board advisory committees

The Chair discussed the Fall 2015 interim report of the LAO Board advisory committees as follows:

All eight Fall 2015 advisory committee meetings have taken place. The Board will receive a complete report, including minutes, on December 11, 2015.

The Board has added the following new committee members, pursuant to the advisory committee terms of reference:

  • Paula Corbiere, Katherine Hensel, Barbara General‑Aboriginal issues
  • Dr. Donald Rose‑Family law
  • Heidi Longboat‑Mental health law
  • Shaunna Kelly‑Criminal law
  • Michael Mandelcorn, Bryonie Baxter‑Prison law

In the interests of transparency and public disclosure, a full report on the process of publicly posting the minutes of the Board Advisory Committees will be brought back to the Board.

4.2 Decision

The Board approved the appointment of the additional advisory committee members.

4.3 Sidney B. Linden Award

Nominations have closed. The selection committee will meet in mid-November to recommend this year’s award recipient. Their recommendation will go to the Board for approval.

4.4 Executive compensation framework

The executive compensation sub‑committee plans to establish a new executive compensation framework in a timely manner, pending the appointment of a new President and CEO.

4.5 Proactive disclosure of expenses

The Chair paid $700 to the Arts and Letters Club for an event to celebrate the retirement of LAO’s President and CEO.

4.6 Decision

The Board received the Chair’s report.

5. President and CEO report (continued)

The President and CEO reported as follows:

5.1 Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFAs)

The Board discussed AFAs. LAO is consulting with Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) to ensure that the funds are appropriately managed through lawyers’ trust accounts in accordance with LSUC Rules of Professional Conduct.

5.2 Mental health appeals program

The Chair reported on his conversations with the Chair of the Ontario Review Board and the Chief of Forensic Psychiatry at Centre for Addiction and Mental Health about LAO’s mental health appeals program.

5.3 Relationship with community legal clinics

The President and CEO reported that some challenging situations have required intervention under the Dispute Resolution Policy (DRP). LAO has quality control mechanisms in place to assist clinics in difficulty.

5.4 Decision

The Board received the second instalment of the President and CEO’s Report.

6. Board reports

6.1 Corporate service reports

6.1.1 Balancing LAO’s operating budget report

The President and CEO discussed LAO’s financial pressures.

6.1.2 Decision

The Board received the report on balancing LAO’s operating budget.

6.1.3 Decision

The Board received the business continuity update.

6.2 Strategic planning and compliance reports

6.2.1 2016/17‑2018/19 Business Plan

The President and CEO explained that Advisory Committee meetings in the spring begin the business planning process, and that the Board reviews iterations of the plan to ensure approval of its direction.

The Vice-President, Strategic Planning and Compliance presented the 2016/17‑2018/19 business plan. He said that the plan is still in development. This version:

  • discusses three key initiatives—financial eligibility, savings strategies and addressing financial gaps, and agile work force
  • still lacks the results and feedback from the lawyer satisfaction survey as well as information from other jurisdictions

The final version will be presented to the Board in December for approval, and then will be submitted to MAG.

The Board discussed the agile work force proposal. The President and CEO reported that:

  • LAO has advanced mobile technology.
  • Although the initiative is in its preliminary stage, staff have indicated that they prefer more flexibility.
  • The Board has approved pilot projects for various departments.
  • Suggestions are forthcoming on how to maintain a team dynamic.

6.2.2 Decision

The Board approved the draft 2016/17‑2018/19 Business Plan.

6.3 Policy and external relations reports

The Vice-President, Policy, Research and External Relations presented the following reports:

6.3.1 Mental health strategy

LAO’s acting Director General, Policy and Strategic Research and LAO’s policy counsel responsible for the mental health strategy discussed the extensive public consultation process plan. They reported the following:

  • The launch is anticipated to take place in December 2015.
  • A mental health training program for LAO staff lawyers, members of the private bar and clinic lawyers as well as other legal aid plans across the country will be launched.
  • LAO’s expanded financial and legal eligibility supports people with mental health issues. For instance, first‑time mentally‑ill accused who would likely not receive a custodial sentence are now covered.
  • The strategy has been shared with a select group of interested parties, and the reaction has been generally positive.
  • Under this strategy, LAO will be much more proactive in the social support and health systems.
  • Upon approval by the Board, staff will begin to implement the initiatives outlined in the strategy.
  • As with other LAO justice strategies, new initiatives will be presented to the Board for approval.

6.3.2 Decision

The Board approved the LAO mental health strategy.

6.3.3 LAO submissions on carding

The Vice-President, Policy, Research and External Relations provided the following information:

  • LAO was invited by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) to prepare submissions on carding/street checks. LAO’s preliminary submissions were approved by the Board of Director electronically and submitted to MCSCS. This initiative is a component of LAO’s upcoming Racialized Communities Strategy.
  • The Government of Ontario has now introduced legislation to eliminate carding in its present form.

6.3.4 Decision

The Board approved LAO’s submissions to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Service on street checks, and next steps in the development of a Racialized Communities Strategy for LAO.

6.3.5 Bail strategy

The Vice-President, Policy, Research and External Relations reported the following:

  • The bail system in Ontario is dysfunctional. More people are incarcerated in Ontario on remand than have been convicted.
  • Two recent studies on bail by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the John Howard Society have highlighted many of the problems.
  • LAO could be a leader in the development and implementation of a strategy for systemic reform.
  • The Premier’s Mandate Letter to the Attorney General said she would like the ministry to address the issue of bail reform.
  • The Attorney General’s roundtable on criminal justice issues is concentrating on mental health issues. LAO is attempting to get bail reform on the agenda and has submitted a paper recommending that bail be a primary issue requiring attention.
  • LAO’s bail strategy is in an early draft form. LAO will continue to consult and make improvements. It will be presented to the Board at its December meeting for final approval.
  • LAO’s duty counsel are already the first point of client contact and are very knowledgeable about bail.
  • In Ontario, unlike other jurisdictions, police do not exercise their discretion to release clients on their own recognizance. In addition, there are often onerous conditions when bail is granted, resulting in additional administrative charges.

6.3.6 Decision

The Board received the LAO bail strategy.

6.3.7 Financial eligibility funding for clinics

The Vice-President, Policy, Research and External Relations reported that the Board has already approved this $3.3 million fund specifically for the development of new clinic law services or the expansion of existing services.

Student Legal Aid Services Societies (SLASS) will be eligible to apply to the fund.

6.3.8 Decision

A report was received by the Board regarding funding for clinics.

6.4 Syrian refugee crisis report

The Executive Lead, Refugee and Immigration Services, GTA presented a report on the Syrian refugee crisis and advised LAO will build a business case for presentation to the new government, which has announced $200 million in support over the next two years as well as the commitment to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees over the next few months.

6.4.1 Decision

The Board received the report on the Syrian refugee crisis.

6.5 Committee reports

6.5.1 Audit and finance committee decision

The Board adopted the minutes of the meeting of the Audit and Finance Committee held on September 23, 2015.