LAO update: fall 2019 edition

Published: February 27, 2020

A quarterly update on Legal Aid Ontario’s latest access to justice initiatives


Executive summary

In the autumn of 2019, LAO welcomed the provincial government’s new Legal Aid Services Act, a bill that, if passed, would establish a new framework in which LAO delivers legal aid services.

The updated legislation—last revised in 1998—would give LAO greater scope to develop and adapt services and policies to more responsively serve clients, and work with service providers. It offers opportunities for innovation, and will allow us to address gaps in the justice system.

In other news this past autumn, we added more family duty counsel services in certain areas of the province, and reorganized LAO’s district structure reflecting our ongoing commitment to more efficient client service.

More information on developments at LAO between September and December 2019 follows in the Updates section.



Updates

New legislation for LAO

December 9, 2019
Legal Aid Ontario welcomed the provincial government’s announcement of a new Legal Aid Services Act, a bill that, if passed, would establish a new framework in which we deliver legal aid services.

New coverage for PRRA hearing preparation and attendance

December 4, 2019
LAO covers clients with a pre‑removal risk assessment certificate who are scheduled for a PRRA hearing, following amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Additional family duty counsel services

November 14, 2019
LAO announces additional family duty counsel services as of November 18, 2019.

LAO moves to new district structure closely matching Ontario Court of Justice

October 3, 2019
Objective of the reorganization: improved efficiency of client service

Updated processes for Refugee Protection Division hearing coverage

October 3, 2019
Announcement of September 23 change restoring RPD hearing preparation authorizations



Client services

Intake, triage and support services

LAO offers intake, triage and support services to people applying for legal aid, existing legal aid clients and lawyers who provide legal services on behalf of Legal Aid Ontario.

  • Call centre–Tier 1
    Agents in Tier 1 of LAO’s call centre can help assess service needs and provide information about qualifying for legal aid. Their responsibilities include, but are not limited to: triage, making referrals, performing status checks and updating client profiles.

  • Call centre–Tier 2
    Tier 2 agents conduct an in‑depth analysis of a client’s legal needs, financial situation and case details to determine eligibility for legal aid services. Their responsibilities include, but are not limited to: processing applications, issuing certificates, making referrals, and providing enhanced public legal information.

  • Call centre–In‑custody
    LAO also offers a service dedicated to helping people who are incarcerated across the province. Staff take calls directly from inmates to determine legal aid eligibility, process applications and issue certificates as well as conduct status checks on submitted applications.

  • Call centre–Lawyers
    Lawyers who do legal aid work can contact the call centre for information on, including but not limited to: tariff, billing, account status and technical support. This group serves as a first point of contact for most lawyers’ enquiries.

Persons assisted for intake, triage and support

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Persons assisted for intake, triage and support 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3
Phone: Tier 1 76,566 70,156 73,498 68,281 76,534 74,457 73,473 70,289
Phone: Tier 2 23,152 26,614 29,117 27,254 28,709 28,105 28,742 28,150
Phone: In‑custody clients 7,437 8,194 9,066 8,462 9,120 9,391 9,532 9,258
Phone: Lawyer Service Centre 12,061 11,571 11,106 10,914 10,639 10,598 9,866 9,561

Duty counsel services

Duty counsel are LAO staff and per diem lawyers in courthouses. They can give immediate legal assistance to low‑income people who would otherwise be unrepresented and unassisted.

Number of people assisted by duty counsel

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Persons assisted 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3
Criminal law 138,453 112,419 121,721 131,619 150,401 129,421 124,309 125,310
Civil law1 42,105 31,785 33,345 34,700 38,233 31,890 25,398 21,375
Total 180,558 144,204 155,066 166,319 188,634 161,311 149,707 146,685

[1] This category consists largely of people assisted in family law courts

Certificate program

LAO staff working at courthouses or on the phone assess whether an individual qualifies for legal help from LAO, and what kind of legal help they qualify for. A formal application is then created, and, if approved, a certificate is issued. Certificates state the type of service and length of time, as LAO will pay for a lawyer to complete the service based on the typical amount of work required.

Certificate application outcomes

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Certificate application outcomes 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3
Approved 25,451 27,794 27,448 27,492 28,854 26,687 25,389 26,386
Refused 3,192 3,624 3,369 3,373 3,658 3,530 3,133 3,321
Other2 1,347 1,504 1,502 1,653 1,721 1,689 1,529 1,451
Total outcomes recorded 29,990 32,922 32,319 32,518 34,233 31,906 30,051 31,158

[2] Application outcomes labelled as “Other” are often of an administrative nature and can include: referrals to other service providers, applications withdrawn by the client, or instances when an application was created in error.

Length of time to determine application outcome

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Length of time to determine application outcome 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3
Same day 20,958 23,015 22,755 22,757 24,006 22,039 21,186 21,685
1 to 7 days 2,458 2,836 2,929 2,786 3,713 3,556 3,205 3,360
7 to 14 days 1,538 1,781 1,664 1,861 1,529 1,573 1,423 1,517
14 to 30 days 2,183 2,538 2,327 2,475 2,182 2,249 1,949 2,247
Over 30 days 2,853 2,752 2,644 2,639 2,803 2,489 2,288 2,349
Total outcomes recorded 29,990 32,922 32,319 32,518 34,233 31,906 30,051 31,158
% same‑day decisions 69.90% 69.90% 70.40% 70.00% 70.10% 69.10% 70.50% 69.60%

Certificates approved by area of law

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Certificates approved by area of law 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3
Criminal law 14,053 14,953 14,506 15,020 15,929 15,333 14,610 14,754
Family law 6,411 7,473 7,398 6,945 7,585 6,942 5,969 5,439
Immigration and refugee law 3,628 3,968 4,123 4,186 3,904 3,029 3,400 4,878
Other3 1,359 1,400 1,421 1,341 1,436 1,383 1,410 1,315
Total 25,451 27,794 27,448 27,492 28,854 26,687 25,389 26,386

[3] Other is a category that represents all other legal matters covered by LAO certificates, such as: CCB matters, prison law matters and matters before civil tribunals.



Performance measures

Key Performance Indicator (KPI) name Measurement frequency Last measured Target Previous year (2018/19) Q3 2019/20
% of area office appeals heard within 3 days Quarterly Q3 2019/20 80.0% 59.5% 64.0%
% of calls answered within 3 minutes (L1) Quarterly Q3 2019/20 80.0% 70.0% 54.0%
% of calls answered within 3 minutes (LSC) Quarterly Q3 2019/20 80.0% 84.0% 94.0%
% of calls answered within 3 minutes (In‑custody) Quarterly Q3 2019/20 80.0% 64.0% 68.0%
% of calls answered with 20 minutes (L2) Quarterly Q3 2019/20 80.0% 63.0% 65.0%
Overall client satisfaction ‑ % of positive responses (email) Annual Q4 2018/19 80.0% 80.7% 80.7%
Overall lawyer satisfaction ‑ % of positive responses Annual Q3 2019/20 60.0% 52.0% 43.0%


LAO statement of operations

Revenue PY YTD actual Dec. 2018 ($M) PY YTD actual Dec. 2019 ($M)
Revenue
Government funding $330.5 $258.9
Law Foundation $56.0 $78.7
Other revenue $8.8 $10.2
Total revenue $395.3 $347.8
Core business expenses
Certificate costs $165.9 $166.1
Client service offices $14.4 $14.3
Clinic program $73.4 $69.4
Duty counsel program $42.3 $41.3
Service innovation $1.8 $1.8
Total core business expenses $297.8 $292.8
Operating expenses
Service provider support $4.9 $4.8
Administrative expenses $27.2 $25.7
Other expenditures $1.6 $3.2
Program support $19.4 $17.8
Total operating expenses $53.0 $51.5
Total expenditures $350.8 $344.3
Surplus / (deficit) before other corporate expenditures / savings $44.5 $3.5

Due to rounding, the numbers may not add up precisely to the totals provided.