LAO Update: Summer 2017 Edition

Published: September 30, 2017

Message from the CEO

This completely revamped quarterly report is meant to be a way to help keep all of Legal Aid Ontario’s (LAO) justice partners in the loop about some of our major initiatives and to also provide a snapshot look at our service levels and financial health.

In our first quarter, LAO received the review performed by Deloitte for the Ministry of the Attorney General. For those of you who have had questions or concerns about our plan to address our deficit, this review provides an independent look at how we plan to balance our budget. I acknowledge that there continue to be outside challenges, but I am confident in the progress that the organization has already made in our budget plan—and we fully intend to keep you informed of the progress made through these quarterly reports. Though at the end of the first quarter LAO shows a deficit, I am confident that LAO will be in a sound financial position by year end.

Beyond providing service data and financial updates that you’ve requested, we also plan to keep you up-to-date on activities, policies or events that we think might be of interest to you.

As CEO, I’m committed to enhancing transparency and further engaging you to ensure that we can work together to provide our clients the access to justice that they deserve.

I’m inviting you to contact us to let us know what kind of data, news or information you’d like to see in future quarterly reports. Please drop us a line at and let us know what you think about our first quarterly report and what you’d like to find out more about.


David Field
President & CEO
Legal Aid Ontario

Upcoming: Racialized Communities Strategy consultation

LAO will be holding a series of in-person and online sessions this fall to talk about some of the issues faced by racialized communities when it comes to getting the legal services they need.

Ahead of those meetings, LAO is making its consultation paper available as a starting point for discussion.

Projects and announcements from the last quarter

Congratulations to Legal Aid Ontario staff appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice
Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is extremely proud of the four staff lawyers appointed as justices of the peace, and the work they have done within this organization.
Legal Aid Ontario offers funding to two community organizations to support Black youth
LAO is providing $100,000 of funding to a project headed by two organizations to provide services to Black students facing suspension or expulsion hearings.

Community Legal Clinic of York Region to open satellite office in Vaughan
The Community Legal Clinic of York Region (CLCYR) and the Vaughan Community Health Centre (VCHC) have opened a new office to provide legal aid services to low-income Ontarians in the Vaughan area. This new satellite office, co-located with the Vaughan Community Health Centre, offers legal consultation to visitors and patients of the VCHC every Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
LAO receives report from Deloitte
Over the past four months Deloitte thoroughly examined LAO’s work and interviewed staff and stakeholders. Their review of our work affirmed the feasibility of LAO’s balanced budget plan while offering recommendations for LAO to consider.
LAO now offering most requested brochures in ten additional languages
After listening to feedback from community agencies that serve racialized communities, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has translated its most requested brochures and fact sheets into the ten most requested languages.
Changes to the fee waiver regulation
Recently, the Ministry of the Attorney General announced changes to the Fee Waiver Regulation to allow Legal Aid Ontario clients receiving certain legal services to have their court fees waived.
Certain documents can now be uploaded through Legal Aid Online
Beginning May 29, 2017, panel members will be able to use Legal Aid Online to submit requests for authorizations, opinion letters and other documents related to cases involving family, Child and Family Services Act (CFSA), civil, Consent & Capacity Board (CCB) and Ontario Review Board (ORB).

Selected media

The Lawyer’s Daily: Legal Aid gives grant to community centres assisting black youth facing suspension
Legal Aid Ontario has provided two $100,000 grants to community health centres in the GTA to fund programing aimed at supporting black students in trouble at school. (Article available in English only.)
CBC: Implicit bias and anti-black racism the core of Andrew Loku inquest findings
LAO provided test case funding to the Black Action Defense Committee and the Empowerment Council to participate in the coroner’s inquest of Andrew Loku’s death.
CTV: The importance of cultural assessment reports
On May 10, 2017, Legal Aid Ontario’s (LAO) Wayne van der Meide was on CTV’s “Your Morning” to talk to Anne Marie Mediwake about the potential use of cultural assessment reports to get Ontario judges to consider systemic racism when sentencing offenders from racialized communities.

Public legal education

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.

  • Client Service Centre – Tier 1

    Agents in Tier 1 of LAO’s client service 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.

  • Client Service 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.

  • Client Service Centre – In-custody

    LAO also offers a service dedicated to help 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.

  • Lawyer Service Centre

    Lawyers who do legal aid work can contact the Lawyer Service Centre for information, 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.

  • Court-based staff

    Legal aid workers do their jobs alongside duty counsel and staff lawyers in courthouses and legal aid offices. They can help clients with in-person certificate applications, contacting sureties and adjourning matters in first appearance court.

Click here to download image.
Persons assisted for intake, triage and support 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1
Phone: Tier 1 57,737 70,532 59,673 72,204 74,088 74,118 68,891 78,089 75,588
Phone: Tier 2 21,555 21,682 22,113 27,428 28,906 29,324 26,108 30,167 26,587
Phone: In-custody clients 8,228 9,131 8,381 8,244 7,180 8,236 7,419 8,992 8,773
Phone: Lawyer Service Centre 11,350 11,953 11,226 12,679 11,175 11,000 10,306 11,928 11,132
In-person: Court-based staff 30,976 29,832 27,834 28,619 31,145 31,169 25,555 27,304 20,907

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.

Criminal law services

Click here to download image.
Persons assisted by duty counsel – criminal law 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1
Per Diem DC 32,312 36,467 34,277 36,618 30,744 37,383 32,748 35,215 30,116
Staff DC 73,568 73,688 68,874 78,968 69,831 78,976 72,275 99,422 93,836
Total 105,880 110,155 103,151 115,586 100,575 116,359 105,023 134,637 123,952

Family law services

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Persons assisted by duty counsel – family law 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1
Per Diem DC 22,217 23,994 21,924 22,669 20,284 18,864 17,711 20,527 15,118
Staff DC 14,744 15,754 14,684 17,674 13,416 16,248 17,858 19,068 15,096
Total 36,961 39,748 36,608 40,343 33,700 35,112 35,569 39,595 30,214

Representation by a private practice lawyer

Legal aid applicants who are financially eligible and who are facing a serious legal matter covered by LAO may be issued a certificate to cover the cost of a private bar lawyer.

A certificate is a voucher that a low-income person can take to one of more than 3,600 private practice lawyers across the province who accept legal aid clients. A certificate guarantees the lawyer payment for a certain number of hours if they accept the case.

Click here to download image.
Certificates issued by area of law 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1
Criminal Law 14,429 16,452 15,706 17,098 16,982 16,415 15,065 15,386 14,520
Family Law 7,151 7,502 7,269 8,274 8,483 7,535 6,841 7,452 7,200
Immigration and Refugee Law 1,901 2,074 2,424 2,869 2,753 3,178 3,276 3,451 3,259
Other[1] 1,256 1,270 1,240 1,344 1,369 1,372 1,235 1,316 1,314
Total Certificates Issued 24,737 27,298 26,639 29,585 29,587 28,500 26,417 27,605 26,293

[1] 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 tribunal.

Performance measures

Key Performance Indicator (KPI) name Measurement frequency Last measured Target Previous year (2016/17) Current value
% of same day decisions for certificates Quarterly Q1 2017/18 80% 75.6% 76.4%
% of area office appeals heard within 3 days Quarterly Q1 2017/18 80% 51.6% 53.0%
Acceptance rate for certificate applications Quarterly Q1 2017/18 87% 87.7% 86.5%
% of calls answered within 3 minutes (L1) Quarterly Q1 2017/18 80% 83.0% 71.2%
% of calls answered within 3 minutes (LSC) Quarterly Q1 2017/18 80% 69.0% 61.6%
% of calls answered within 3 minutes (Worklist) Quarterly Q1 2017/18 80% 88.0% 78.0%
% of calls answered within 20 minutes (L2) Quarterly Q1 2017/18 80% 79.0% 61.4%
Overall client satisfaction – % of positive responses (in-person) Annual Q3 2016/17 80% 93.0% 93.0%
Number of Ontarians financially eligible for LAO’s services Annual Q1 2017/18 Maintain 1,540,000 1,540,000
Overall lawyer satisfaction – % of positive responses Annual Q3 2016/17 60% 56.0% 56.0%

Statement of operations

Revenue Apr. 1, 2016 – Jun. 30, 2016 ($M) Apr. 1, 2017 – Jun. 30, 2017 ($M)
Government Funding $103.1M $103.9M
Law Foundation $5.9M $7.9M
Other Revenue $3.3M $3.6M
Total revenue $112.2M $115.4M
Core Business Expenses
Certificate Costs $55.8M $61.7M
Client Service Offices $5.7M $5.1M
Clinic Program $23.0M $22.0M
Duty Counsel Program $14.9M $12.5M
Service Innovation $0.6M $0.8M
Total Core Business Expenses $100.0M $103.0M
Operating Expenses
Service Provider Support $1.7M $1.5M
Administrative Expenses $9.1M $8.3M
Other Expenditures $2.0M $1.9M
Program Support $7.2M $6.1M
Total Operating Expenses $20.0M $17.8M
Total expenditures $119.9M $120.8M
Surplus / (deficit) before other corporate expenditures / savings ($7.7M) ($5.4M)

Totals may not add due to rounding