LAO update: spring 2019 edition

Published: October 4, 2019

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


Message from the CEO

In the first quarter of the year, LAO implemented a number of measures to ensure that we operate and offer services within our new funding envelope, while maintaining an unwavering focus on our clients.

These included:

  • an administrative budget reduction of 10% to be achieved through administrative efficiencies, including a voluntary exit program
  • reallocation of the legal clinic budget recognizing areas with highest client‑facing need
  • interim changes to refugee and immigration services
  • revised coverage and policies for criminal, family and mental health legal aid certificates
  • duty counsel service changes

In addition:

  • For the first time, we published vice‑president mandate letters which outline key responsibilities and identify the work that the divisions will focus on this year.
  • LAO hired its first diversity officer to operationalize our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion and ensure our compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

Looking ahead, with the leadership of chair Charles Harnick, we will continue working with partners and stakeholders to realize LAO’s mandate of promoting access to justice for low‑income Ontarians.

David Field
President and CEO
Legal Aid Ontario



Updates

LAO changes to policies and certificate coverage

June 14, 2019
LAO is changing the way we fund, provide and manage legal services.

Duty counsel service changes effective July 7

June 19, 2019
Effective July 7, there will be key changes to duty counsel responsibilities.

Proper bail hearing a basic human right

Op-ed by David Field, Toronto Star, June 20, 2019
Opinion piece by President and CEO David Field on duty counsel expertise in ensuring proper bail hearings



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
Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1
Phone: Tier 1 69,813 63,187 76,566 70,156 73,498 68,281 76,534 74,457
Phone: Tier 2 26,336 24,235 23,152 26,614 29,117 27,254 28,709 28,105
Phone: In‑custody clients 8,919 7,693 7,437 8,194 9,066 8,462 9,120 9,391
Phone: Lawyer Service Centre 11,403 11,942 12,061 11,571 11,106 10,914 10,639 10,598

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
Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1
Criminal law 124,533 120,842 138,453 112,419 121,721 131,619 150,401 129,421
Civil law1 34,038 33,403 42,105 31,785 33,345 34,700 38,233 31,890
Total 158,571 154,245 180,558 144,204 155,066 166,319 188,634 161,311

[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
Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1
Approved 26,191 24,938 25,451 27,794 27,448 27,492 28,854 26,687
Refused 3,384 3,171 3,192 3,624 3,369 3,373 3,658 3,530
Other2 1,720 1,580 1,347 1,504 1,502 1,653 1,721 1,689
Total outcomes recorded 31,295 29,689 29,990 32,922 32,319 32,518 34,233 31,906

[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
Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1
Same day 22,072 20,601 20,958 23,015 22,755 22,757 24,006 22,039
1 to 7 days 2,521 2,403 2,458 2,836 2,929 2,786 3,713 3,556
7 to 14 days 1,480 1,618 1,538 1,781 1,664 1,861 1,529 1,573
14 to 30 days 2,323 2,307 2,183 2,538 2,327 2,475 2,182 2,249
Over 30 days 2,899 2,760 2,853 2,752 2,644 2,639 2,803 2,489
Total outcomes recorded 31,295 29,689 29,990 32,922 32,319 32,518 34,233 31,906
% same‑day decisions 70.50% 69.40% 69.90% 69.90% 70.40% 70.00% 70.10% 69.10%

Certificates approved by area of law

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Certificates approved by area of law 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1
Criminal law 14,492 13,714 14,053 14,953 14,506 15,020 15,929 15,333
Family law 7,028 6,409 6,411 7,473 7,398 6,945 7,585 6,942
Immigration and refugee law 3,306 3,493 3,628 3,968 4,123 4,186 3,904 3,029
Other3 1,365 1,322 1,359 1,400 1,421 1,341 1,436 1,383
Total 26,191 24,938 25,451 27,794 27,448 27,492 28,854 26,687

[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) Q1 2019/20
% of area office appeals heard within 3 days Quarterly Q1 2019/20 80.0% 59.5% 45.6%
% of calls answered with 3 minutes (L1) Quarterly Q1 2019/20 80.0% 70.0% 84.0%
% of calls answered within 3 minutes (LSC) Quarterly Q1 2019/20 80.0% 84.0% 90.0%
% of calls answered within 3 minutes (In‑custody) Quarterly Q1 2019/20 80.0% 64.0% 78.0%
% of calls answered with 20 minutes (L2) Quarterly Q1 2019/20 80.0% 63.0% 89.0%
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 2018/19 60.0% 52.0% 52.0%


LAO statement of operations

Revenue PY YTD actual June 2018 ($M) PY YTD actual June 2019 ($M)
Revenue
Government funding $112.1 $85.0
Law Foundation $17.1 $25.5
Other revenue $2.8 $4.0
Total revenue $132.0 $114.5
Core business expenses
Certificate costs $58.4 $62.1
Client service offices $4.8 $4.8
Clinic program $25.9 $25.1
Duty counsel program $13.8 $13.8
Service innovation $0.6 $0.8
Total core business expenses $103.4 $106.6
Operating expenses
Service provider support $1.7 $1.6
Administrative expenses $9.2 $8.3
Other expenditures $(1.7) $1.4
Program support $6.4 $5.8
Total operating expenses $15.6 $17.0
Total expenditures $119.0 $123.6
Surplus / (deficit) before other corporate expenditures / savings $13.0 $(9.1)

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