LAO update: winter 2019 edition
Published: March 31, 2019
A quarterly update on Legal Aid Ontario’s latest access to justice initiatives
Message from the CEO
Shortly after the close of LAO’s 2018/19 fiscal year, the provincial government announced their 2019 budget. To fit within our 2019 financial allocation, and address a deficit of approximately $74 million, LAO is carefully examining our expenditures across all parts of the legal aid system. We are grateful to the Law Foundation of Ontario’s recent additional one‑time grant of $15M, which will assist in addressing transition costs and minimize our deficit.
Clients remain at the centre of all that we do. Our aim is to implement a plan that will realize savings across the organization and strengthen the sustainability of our legal aid system while ensuring that frontline service remain strong.
LAO welcomes new chair
At the start of this fiscal, we welcomed our new chair, Charles Harnick, and we prepared to say goodbye to our former chair, John McCamus.
Charles, who was Ontario’s 31st Attorney General, introduced the Legal Aid Services Act in 1998—the act that created Legal Aid Ontario. He takes over from John, who has provided more than 11 years of skillful leadership to the organization.
John’s report on legal aid was the blueprint that made LAO a success from its inception. It remains to this day a very thorough and important report on the delivery of legal aid services. The numerous international delegations and visitors we receive each year is a reflection of the impact that John’s report continues to have worldwide more than twenty years after its publication.
We have benefitted tremendously from John’s thoughtful leadership and generous mentorship.
On behalf of LAO, I wish John all the best and thank him for his service. And please join me in welcoming Charles.
- Details on LAO’s financial eligibility increase for 2019
March 20, 2019
On April 1, 2019, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is raising the eligibility threshold by six per cent for its certificate program and for clinic law services.
- Black Legal Action Centre opens
March 18, 2019
The Black Legal Action Centre, a not‑for‑profit organization aimed at combatting individual and systemic anti‑Black racism, opens.
- 2018 Sidney B. Linden award goes to Mary Birdsell
March 4, 2019
Mary Birdsell, the executive director of Justice for Children and Youth receives the Sidney B. Linden award.
- Staying connected to Legal Aid Online
January 28, 2019
Make sure your email address on file is up to date!
- LAO releases new five‑year strategic plan
January 16, 2019
LAO reaffirms its commitment to meeting clients’ needs in its new five‑year strategic plan.
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.
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.
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.
|Persons assisted for intake, triage and support||2017/18||2018/19|
|Phone: Tier 1||75,588||69,813||63,187||76,566||70,156||73,498||68,281||76,534|
|Phone: Tier 2||26,587||26,336||24,235||23,152||26,614||29,117||27,254||28,709|
|Phone: In‑custody clients||8,773||8,919||7,693||7,437||8,194||9,066||8,462||9,120|
|Phone: Lawyer Service Centre||11,132||11,403||11,942||12,061||11,571||11,106||10,914||10,639|
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
|Persons assisted by duty counsel ‑ criminal law||2017/18||2018/19|
|Per Diem DC||30,116||39,126||34,668||40,806||33,440||38,798||36,967||45,622|
Family law services
|Persons assisted by duty counsel ‑ family law||2017/18||2018/19|
|Per Diem DC||15,118||19,148||17,369||20,866||17,278||17,733||16,765||20,170|
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‑practice 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.
|Certificates issued by area of law||2017/18||2018/19|
|Immigration and refugee law||3,259||3,306||3,493||3,628||3,968||4,123||4,186||3,904|
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 tribunals.
|Key Performance Indicator (KPI) name||Measurement frequency||Last measured||Target||Previous year (2017/18)||Current value|
|% of same day decisions for certificates||Quarterly||Q4 2018/19||80.0%||76.2%||77.2%|
|% of area office appeals heard within 3 days||Quarterly||Q4 2018/19||80.0%||51.3%||62.3%|
|Acceptance rate for certificate applications||Quarterly||Q4 2018/19||87.0%||86.8%||87.2%|
|% of calls answered with 3 minutes (L1)||Quarterly||Q4 2018/19||80.0%||46.0%||70.0%|
|% of calls answered within 3 minutes (LSC)||Quarterly||Q4 2018/19||80.0%||77.0%||82.0%|
|% of calls answered within 3 minutes (In‑custody)||Quarterly||Q4 2018/19||80.0%||64.0%||76.0%|
|% of calls answered with 20 minutes (L2)||Quarterly||Q4 2018/19||80.0%||50.0%||79.0%|
|Overall client satisfaction ‑ $ of positive responses (email)||Annual||Q4 2018/19||80.0%||77.0%||80.7%|
|Number of Ontarians financially eligibile for LAO’s services||Annual||Q1 2018/19||Maintain||1,540,000||1,690,000|
|Overall lawyer satisfaction ‑ % of positive responses||Annual||Q3 2018/19||60.0%||53.0%||52.0%|
LAO statement of operations
|Revenue||Apr. 1, 2017 ‑ Mar. 31 2018 ($M)||Apr. 1, 2018 ‑ Mar. 31 2019 ($M)|
|Core business expenses|
|Client service offices||$20.4M||$20.1M|
|Duty counsel program||$56.1M||$60.8M|
|Total core business expenses||$396.8M||$406.9M|
|Service provider support||$6.4M||$7.1M|
|Total operating expenses||$80.0M||$75.9M|
|Surplus / (deficit) before other corporate expenditures / savings||$10.8M||$13.2M|
Due to rounding, the numbers may not add up precisely to the totals provided.