Board of directors e‑meeting February 21, 2019
Published: February 21, 2019
Board members present:
- John McCamus (Chair)
- Christa Freiler
- Derry Millar
- Michel Robillard
- James Yakimovich
- Ann Marie Yantz, David Field (CEO/Ex Officio)
- Janet Budgell
- Stephanie Mealing
- Remy Boulbol
- Nancy Cooper
- Carol Hartman
- Peter Owsiany
- Sean Robichaud
1. Meeting agenda
The meeting agenda was adopted.
2. Disclosure of Conflict of Interest
No conflict of interest was identified.
3. President’s Report, Part I
The President and CEO reported as follows:
New Board member orientation has commenced with a recent half-day session which provided an overview of LAO and the services that it provides. As well, the Vice-President and General Counsel delivered a presentation on LAO’s governing legislation and the duties and responsibilities of LAO Board members.
The Board recently approved an Indigenous Cultural Awareness Training Program for participation by all Board members. Once the rest of the new appointments to the Board have been made, this training will be scheduled at Board members’ convenience.
The Board received an update on LAO’s fiscal picture.
The Board received an update on LAO’s fiscal picture. Certificate Issuance
It is projected that LAO will issue approximately 108,000 certificates this year. Certificate issuance has increased as a result of expanded financial eligibility. The additional certificates are mostly in the areas of family and criminal law, as well as refugee law, which is up by 20 percent over last year. LAO has structured its budget in order to maintain its scheduled increases to financial eligibility thresholds. Existing client service levels will be maintained and revenue reductions are offset by increased revenue from the Law Foundation of Ontario (LFO).
Next Steps on LAO’s Strategic Plan
The Vice-Presidents are preparing mandate letters setting out their accountabilities, including their roles and responsibilities for the implementation of the organization’s strategic plan. Once completed, the mandate letters will be tabled with the LAO Board of Directors and released publicly. This undertaking will be incorporated in the Vice-Presidents’ performance reviews. Included in the mandate letters will be a statement by the Vice-Presidents of their obligations and responsibilities as senior executives and a commitment to core principles such as Inclusion and Diversity, Truth and Reconciliation, and French Language Services.
The client portal was launched on December 3, 2018 and the response from clients has been very positive with 85% chosing the portal as their preferred method to interact with LAO.
Employee Engagement – Action Planning Sessions
The employee engagement survey was undertaken to encourage staff to provide feed‑back on potential improvements to the organization. Follow‑up, in‑person action planning sessions have been scheduled. To date, 215 employees have signed up to participate in sessions on how LAO can address the issues identified in the survey responses. Information from these sessions will be provided to the Board.
The Board was provided with a summary of call centre volumes and wait times. Wait times are decreasing, with new staff having been hired and trained in an effort to keep the queue open at all times.
In 2016, LAO had a workforce of 1,050 full-time employees (FTEs). The current workforce size is 975, a reduction of 9 percent. The report included data on sick days, which LAO monitors. The staff turnover rate is 11.7 percent compared with 10 percent previously.
Lawyers’ Services and Payments
LAO’s most recent policy provided for payment to its panel lawyers within twenty-one days of receipt of their accounts. It was recently announced that lawyers will now be paid within fourteen days.
Meetings with MPPs
LAO staff have participated in a total of 72 meetings with MPPs across Ontario. Staff have provided the MPPs with an overview of LAO’s role and responsibilities within the justice system and highlighted the services available for the benefit of their constituents.
Association of Legal Aid Plans of Canada
Next week, LAO is hosting a meeting of Chairs and CEOs of all of the legal aid plans in Canada. Topics for discussion will include succession planning processes.
Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC)
Since LAO ceased funding the African Canadian Legal Clinic (ACLC), services to the Black community continued to be provided on a temporary basis through the Ontario Human Rights Legal Services Centre and LAO’s Test Case Program. The Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC), a newly incorporated specialty clinic mandated to serve this community, is now preparing to celebrate its grand opening. Construction is under way at the new clinic location at 720 Spadina Avenue, Toronto. Staff have been hired and the Executive Director plans to provide services from a temporary location until the clinic opens.
Clinic Information Management System (CIMS)
Information is being collected and a reporting format has been designed that has the approval of LAO and the clinics. Technology issues have been resolved by the replacement of the clinics’ computer hardware. Discussions with respect to performance measures are ongoing, including measuring “cost-per-assist”.
The meeting adjourned.