LAO update: summer 2019 edition

Published: November 26, 2019

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


Message from the CEO

It has been another busy quarter at LAO.

During the summer 2019, we conducted public consultations and continued to work on the changes necessary to shape a sustainable future and adapt to LAO’s new financial envelope.

In August, to inform modernization efforts, we held a series of roundtables to hear from staff and stakeholders around the province.

That same month, one-time funding of $25.7 million from the federal government allowed us to restore immigration and refugee services for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Other significant developments in the second quarter included:

  • a shift to a new district organizational structure closely matching Ontario Court of Justice judicial districts
  • an upgrade of the PeopleSoft software, critical to the technology LAO relies on to serve our clients and pay our service providers
  • the unveiling of our new accessibility policy and training, in line with our duty under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

I look forward to keeping staff and stakeholders up to date on the latest developments at LAO in this and future reports.

Sincerely,

David Field
President and CEO
Legal Aid Ontario



Updates

New district structure for LAO
September 16, 2019
LAO moved to a new district structure that very closely matches the Ontario Court of Justice (OCJ) judicial districts.
Legal Aid Ontario restores immigration and refugee services
August 16, 2019
Further to the federal government’s August 12, 2019 announcement of $25.7 million in one‑time funding for immigration and refugee services, Legal Aid Ontario is fully restoring services in these areas for the remainder of the fiscal year.


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
Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2
Phone: Tier 1 63,187 76,566 70,156 73,498 68,281 76,534 74,457 73,473
Phone: Tier 2 24,235 23,152 26,614 29,117 27,254 28,709 28,105 28,742
Phone: In‑custody clients 7,693 7,437 8,194 9,066 8,462 9,120 9,391 9,532
Phone: Lawyer Service Centre 11,942 12,061 11,571 11,106 10,914 10,639 10,598 9,866

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
Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2
Criminal law 120,842 138,453 112,419 121,721 131,619 150,401 129,421 124,309
Civil law1 33,403 42,105 31,785 33,345 34,700 38,233 31,890 25,398
Total 154,245 180,558 144,204 155,066 166,319 188,634 161,311 149,707

[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
Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2
Approved 24,938 25,451 27,794 27,448 27,492 28,854 26,687 25,389
Refused 3,171 3,192 3,624 3,369 3,373 3,658 3,530 3,133
Other2 1,580 1,347 1,504 1,502 1,653 1,721 1,689 1,529
Total outcomes recorded 29,689 29,990 32,922 32,319 32,518 34,233 31,906 30,051

[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
Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2
Same day 20,601 20,958 23,015 22,755 22,757 24,006 22,039 21,186
1 to 7 days 2,403 2,458 2,836 2,929 2,786 3,713 3,556 3,205
7 to 14 days 1,618 1,538 1,781 1,664 1,861 1,529 1,573 1,423
14 to 30 days 2,307 2,183 2,538 2,327 2,475 2,182 2,249 1,949
Over 30 days 2,760 2,853 2,752 2,644 2,639 2,803 2,489 2,288
Total outcomes recorded 29,689 29,990 32,922 32,319 32,518 34,233 31,906 30,051
% same‑day decisions 69.40% 69.90% 69.90% 70.40% 70.00% 70.10% 69.10% 70.50%

Certificates approved by area of law

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Certificates approved by area of law 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2
Criminal law 13,714 14,053 14,953 14,506 15,020 15,929 15,333 14,610
Family law 6,409 6,411 7,473 7,398 6,945 7,585 6,942 5,969
Immigration and refugee law 3,493 3,628 3,968 4,123 4,186 3,904 3,029 3,400
Other3 1,322 1,359 1,400 1,421 1,341 1,436 1,383 1,410
Total 24,938 25,451 27,794 27,448 27,492 28,854 26,687 25,389

[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) Q2 2019/20
% of area office appeals heard within 3 days Quarterly Q1 2019/20 80.0% 59.5% 55.4%
% of calls answered within 3 minutes (L1) Quarterly Q1 2019/20 80.0% 70.0% 53.0%
% of calls answered within 3 minutes (LSC) Quarterly Q1 2019/20 80.0% 84.0% 96.0%
% of calls answered within 3 minutes (In‑custody) Quarterly Q1 2019/20 80.0% 64.0% 66.0%
% of calls answered within 20 minutes (L2) Quarterly Q1 2019/20 80.0% 63.0% 70.0%
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 Sept. 2018 ($M) PY YTD actual Sept. 2019 ($M)
Revenue
Government funding $220.0 $183.7
Law Foundation $34.0 $51.4
Other revenue $5.7 $7.0
Total revenue $259.7 $242.1
Core business expenses
Certificate costs $111.9 $111.6
Client service offices $9.9 $9.9
Clinic program $50.5 $49.1
Duty counsel program $28.7 $28.3
Service innovation $1.1 $1.1
Total core business expenses $202.1 $199.9
Operating expenses
Service provider support $3.4 $3.3
Administrative expenses $18.2 $16.7
Other expenditures $- $2.8
Program support $13.4 $12.1
Total operating expenses $35.0 $35.0
Total expenditures $237.1 $234.9
Surplus / (deficit) before other corporate expenditures / savings $22.5 $7.1

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