Public proceedings of the Board

Meeting of the Board of Directors on June 23, 2017


Board members present

John McCamus (Chair), Nancy Cooper, Christa Freiler, Carol Hartman, John Liston, Derry Millar, Michel Robillard, James Yakimovich, Ann Marie Yantz, David Field (CEO/Ex Officio)


Janet Budgell, Mary-Ann Cocchetto, Vince Correia, Jawad Kassab, Charles Lafortune, David McKillop, Stephanie Mealing, Kathleen Murphy, Marcus Pratt, Kimberley Roach, Michelle Séguin, Michelle Squires, Rod Strain

1. Meeting agenda

The Chair advised that at a previous Board meeting, it was decided that In-Camera sessions would be held at the beginning of each Board meeting, however, in this instance, it will be more efficient to hold an In-Camera session in conjunction with the President and CEO Performance Review. The meeting agenda was adopted.

2. Conflict of interest

No conflict of interest was identified.

3. Board of directors’ meetings

3.1 Decision

Minutes of the Board meetings held May 11, May 12, June 9 and June 16, 2017, were adopted.

4. Board committee meetings

4.1 Decision

The minutes of the Audit and Finance Committee meetings held June 9, 2017, were adopted.

5. Chair’s report

The Chair presented a verbal report, as follows:

  • attended the swearing-in ceremony to the Superior Court of Justice of the Honourable Patrick J. Monahan, former Deputy Attorney General (DAG)
  • Assistant Deputy Minister Irwin Glasberg has been appointed as acting DAG
  • he attended the swearing-in of the Honourable David Paciocco to the Ontario Court of Appeal
  • Board Member Ann Marie Yantz has expressed an interest in serving on LAO’s Clinic Committee to the Board
  • the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada, attended at LAO and met with staff in the Refugee Law Office to discuss refugee system reform

5.1 Proactive disclosure of expenses

The Chair expended a total of $1,469.32 for rent and catering for the Board annual Retreat and Strategic Planning Session.

5.2 Advisory committee report and minutes for spring 2017

The Chair presented the Advisory Committee Report and Draft Minutes for the eight committee meetings held in spring 2017.

5.3 Decisions

The Board:

  • received the LAO Board Advisory Committees Spring 2017 Report and Draft Meeting Minutes
  • approved the appointment of Board member Ann Marie Yantz to serve as a member of the Clinic Committee of the Board
  • received the Chair’s Report

6. President and CEO performance contract, 2016/17

6.1 Decision

The Board approved the President and CEO Performance Contract Year-End Results for 2016/17.

7. President and CEO performance contract, 2017/18

7.1 Decision

The Board approved the President and CEO performance contract for 2017/18.

8. Board in-camera session

In-camera discussion (Board members only)

9. Board reports

9.1 Corporate Services Reports

9.1.1 LAO audited financial statements to March 31, 2017

The CFO presented LAO’s Audited Financial Statements. He reported that:

  • there have been a few minor changes since the Unaudited Financial Statements were presented to the Board
  • the Auditor General has now provided an unqualified opinion

The Board received LAO’s Audited Financial Statements.

9.1.2 Audit findings report

The CFO presented the 2016/17 Audit Findings Report. He reported that:

  • the written Audit Findings Report was unavailable at the June 9, 2017, Board meeting because the Auditor General had not yet completed her review
  • Laura Bell from the Office of the Auditor General presented a verbal report at that meeting
  • the written report has now been received and is being presented to this Board meeting for information

He highlighted the recommendations, including;

  • LAO should create a plan to address financial and cash flow needs going forward
  • LAO’s Balanced Budget Plan should be consolidated in a single document with continued monitoring and regular reporting to the Audit and Finance Committee

He reported that the representation letter has been received and the Audit Feedback Questionnaire will be completed and returned to the Office of the Auditor General’s.


The Board received the 2016/17 Audit Findings Report.

9.1.3 Audited Pension Plan Financial Statements to December 31, 2016

The CFO presented the Audited Pension Plan Financial Statements for the year ended December 31, 2016.


The Board received the Audited Pension Plan Financial Statements.

10. Refugee and immigration program proposals

The President and CEO presented a report on refugee and immigration program proposals, including an analysis of financial position, options for continued service delivery, and plans for seeking additional funding. He reported that LAO has prepared a business case requesting additional resources.


The Board approved the following:

  1. Increasing the 2017/18 immigration and refugee budget to $28.5M ($26.5M already approved and $2M additional federal funding announced in the March, 2017 budget)

    Deferring a service suspension decision until September 2017

11. Strategic Planning and Compliance Reports

11.1 Draft annual report for 2016/17

The Acting Vice-President, Strategic Planning and Compliance presented the draft annual report for 2016/17.

He reported that the annual report for 2015/16 was submitted on July 28, 2016, but was not tabled in the legislature until June 1, 2017, and was made public on June 6, 2017.

The Acting Vice-President provided an overview of LAO initiatives and baseline services. He advised that the report now includes statistics on LAO’s complaints and panel management programs, as well as details on panel removals, to illustrate LAO’s exercise of its oversight responsibilities.


The Board:

  • approved the draft annual report
  • authorized the Board Chair and the CEO to approve the final version to be submitted to the Ministry of the Attorney General

11.2 Outline of 2018/19 business plan

The Acting Vice-President, Strategic Planning and Compliance presented the 2018/19 business plan outline. He noted that the outline follows a similar format used in previous years and builds on the four strategic objectives. He highlighted the key initiatives, i.e.

  • deliver on provincial investment in financial eligibility
  • monitor and evaluate LAO budget plan strategies
  • engage personnel with a view to developing a healthy environment and agile workforce
  • deliver refugee services within available resources

He reported that the business plan provides information on ongoing initiatives and will include information on the balanced budget plan, the CEO’s performance contract, any relevant work-in-progress over the summer, and any input provided by the board of directors.


The Board received the 2018/19 business plan outline.

12. Policy, research and external relations reports

12.1 Racialized communities strategy consultation paper

The Vice-President, Policy, Research and External Relations presented the consultation paper as part of phase one of LAO’s racialized communities strategy (RCS). He introduced the Director, Policy and Strategic Planning and Policy Counsel, RCS, who co-authored the consultation paper, along with the Regional Manager in Ottawa. He reported that:

  • in 2016, this Board approved the creation of a strategy to address access to justice issues for racialized communities and develop new affiliations
  • the Policy Department held 60 consultation sessions with various agencies, individuals and groups within the community to identify gaps and take suggestions on how to improve on existing services, and develop new initiatives to meet the legal needs of this vulnerable client group
  • like LAO’s aboriginal clients, racialized clients are severely over-represented in criminal courts, in the child welfare system and in prisons
  • once the consultation process is completed, a racialized communities strategy will be developed and brought back to this Board for consideration.

He reported on initiatives that have taken place in the first year, including:

  • submissions on “carding”
  • advocating for reform of the Police Services Act
  • initiating a project to determine the racial makeup of LAO’s clients
  • translation of LAO’s Public Legal Education materials into several languages


The Board received the racialized communities strategy.

12.2 Domestic violence strategy report

The Vice-President, Policy, Research and External Relations presented the domestic violence strategy. He introduced the policy counsel who authored the domestic violence strategy paper. He reported that:

  • since the Board approved the creation of a domestic violence policy in 2015, extensive consultations have been undertaken
  • this strategy is intended to improve existing services and close gaps
  • there are a number of initiatives, including:
    • the introduction of modified financial eligibility, resulting in the issuance of an additional 4,000 domestic violence certificates over the previous year, a 56 per cent increase
    • the implementation of a priority service model for domestic violence clients at the contact centre
    • the provision of mandatory domestic violence training for all LAO staff
  • staff have developed a cost forecast and implementation plan and will monitor financial impact
  • this initiative will not involve a significant expenditure of funds in the current year and costs will be modest going forward


The Board approved the release of the domestic violence strategy for legal aid services for individuals who have experienced domestic violence.

12.3 Association of Legal Aid Plans of Canada (ALAPC) support for truth and reconciliation (TRC) recommendations

The Vice-President, Policy, Research and External Relations, presented the report on ALAPC support for TRC recommendations. He advised that:

  • in response to the TRC calls to action, an Association Sub-Committee was formed to draft a commitment on behalf of the thirteen provincial and territorial legal aid plans
  • when the TRC was released in June of last year, the LAO President and CEO released a statement committing LAO to address the calls to action
  • since that time, LAO has undertaken the following initiatives:
    • cultural competency awareness and education
    • funding and support for culturally relevant services programs
    • supporting programs aimed at addressing over-representation in the justice system (for example, Gladue Report services)
  • LAO is also looking for further opportunities to address the calls to action

He presented the Legal Aid Ontario TRC statement and requested that it be approved and endorsed by the LAO Board of Directors.


The Board approved and endorsed the ALAP TRC statement in order to strengthen LAO’s commitment toward reconciliation.

13. Strategy for development of clinic foundational documents

The President and CEO provided an update on the LAO-clinic new foundational document project. The project will review existing foundational documents and identify areas that require updating to align with public sector norms and accountability requirements. The project will include consultations with clinics.


The Board received the LAO-Clinic New Foundational Document Update.

14. Program report – provincial case management office (PCMO)

The Acting Vice-President, Provincial Case Management Office, presented a verbal report on the work of the PCMO and themes in the delivery of legal services. He reported that recent LAO innovations have included significant enhancements to:

  • the contact centre
  • instant interpretation
  • summary legal advice
  • senior counsel programs
  • LAO’s application processes

He reported that LAO’s emerging themes are reducing barriers to justice by working with justice partners to increase access points, making LAO’s processes simpler, and being realistic with respect to what clients can do for themselves.

He highlighted the importance of the timeliness of LAO’s decision-making on eligibility, and developing measures of LAO’s effectiveness.


The Board received the program report – provincial case management office.