Meeting of the board of directors on June 26, 2018
Published: June 26, 2018
1.1 Board members present
Derry Millar (Chair), Remy Boulbol, Nancy Cooper, James McNee, James Yakimovich, Ann Marie Yantz, David Field (CEO/Ex Officio).
Janet Budgell, Mary‑Ann Cocchetto, Louis Dimitracopoulos, Stephanie Mealing.
John McCamus, Christa Freiler, Carol Hartman, Tim Murphy, and Michel Robillard.
2. Meeting agenda
The meeting agenda was adopted.
3. Conflict of interest
No conflict of interest was identified.
4. Board of director’s meetings
- Minutes of the May 10, 2018 board meeting
- Minutes of the May 11, 2018 board meeting
- Minutes of the June 8, 2018 board meeting
DECISION: The minutes of the board meetings held May 10, May 11 and June 8, 2018, were adopted.
5. Board committee meetings
- Minutes of the June 8, 2018 meeting of the Audit and Finance Committee of the board.
DECISION: The minutes of the Audit and Finance Committee meetings held June 8, 2018, were adopted.
6. Chair’s report
The board Chair presented the LAO board advisory committees’ spring 2018 report and draft meeting minutes. The Chair noted that many constructive suggestions were received from advisory committee members and LAO’s policy counsel, and that he regularly reports back to the board committees about the implementation of their recommendations.
DECISION: The board received the report and draft minutes from the board advisory committees’ spring 2018 meetings.
7. Appointment of area directors for the Eastern and Northeast districts
The president presented the report on the appointment of area directors for the Eastern and Northeast districts. He reported that the openings were advertised widely and two competitions were held for each of the available positions. Although Northeastern Ontario has a high percentage of French‑speaking clients, the successful candidate is not bilingual. However, LAO has undertaken to provide a full range of French language support. Area director appointments are required to be formally approved by LAO’s board of directors pursuant to section 22(3) of the Legal Aid Services Act (LASA).
- The board approved the appointment of Annik Wills as area director for the Eastern district effective April 1, 2018, pursuant to section 22(3) of LASA.
- The board approved the appointment of Lisa Banerjee‑Wood as area director for the Northeast district effective July 3, 2018, pursuant to section 22(3) of LASA.
8. Provincial/Territorial Reciprocity Agreement
The president reported on a new Provincial/Territorial Reciprocity Agreement being developed by the Association of Legal Aid Plans of Canada (ALAP) to ensure that legal aid services are provided to individuals who ordinarily reside in a different province or territory. Individual provincial plans provide different levels of service making reciprocity difficult. LAO has agreed to provide non‑resident individuals in need of legal aid services in Ontario with those services as if they ordinarily resided in Ontario. For LAO, these types of reciprocity cases traditionally involve a small percentage of its overall services.
DECISION: The board approved the new Provincial/Territorial Reciprocity Agreement, in principle, and authorized the president to sign the new agreement.
9. Corporate services reports
9.1 Adoption of LAO’s 2017/18 financial statements
The vice-president and chief administrative officer (CAO) presented the audited financial statements for the year ended March 31, 2018. He reported that following the board’s approval of these financial statements, the Auditor General of Ontario requested a restatement of the 2017/18 and prior years’ results to reflect a full valuation allowance against the Defined Benefit pension plan, in accordance with public sector accounting standards. The vice‑president highlighted changes to the financial statements. The Auditor General has issued an unqualified audit opinion with respect to LAO’s financial statements for the year ended March 31, 2018.
DECISION: The board adopted LAO’s 2017/18 audited financial statements.
9.2 Adoption of Audited Pension Plan Financial Statements
The vice-president and chief administrative officer (CAO) presented the audited financial statements for the Trust Fund of Legal Aid Ontario Employees’ Pension Plan for the year ended December 31, 2017. He reported that on June 8, 2018, the board received and approved the financial statements relating to the employees’ pension plan. Following that approval, independent auditors issued an opinion as to whether the net assets available for benefits are presented fairly and in accordance with the provisions of the Pension Benefits Act (Ontario). The independent auditors have issued an unqualified opinion with respect to the financial statements for the Trust.
DECISION: The board adopted the financial statements for the Trust for the year ended December 31, 2017.
10. President’s report
10.1 ALAP Annual General Meeting–June, 2018
LAO has received input from legal aid plans across Canada with respect to its strategic planning exercise.
Attendees at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) discussed the Indigenous services delivered across the country and the Yukon delegates presented an outline of specific Indigenous services provided in their jurisdiction.
LAO is hosting the ALAP AGM in June, 2019, in conjunction with the International Legal Aid Group (ILAG) conference in Ottawa.
10.2 Society of United Professionals (SUP) negotiations
The associate general counsel updated the board about on-going negotiations with the SUP.
10.3 Expenditure Restrictions
The provincial government has instituted a freeze on all discretionary spending and hiring with the exception of essential services. These include limitations on meals, travel, and accommodation.
10.4 Summary report on value‑for‑money audit
LAO has received a draft analysis of the audit findings from the Auditor General’s staff, for purposes of fact‑checking. A draft audit report is expected to be received in September or October, 2018, and LAO’s management team will be given the opportunity to provide feedback and clarification, as needed.
10.5 Client and Lawyer Support Centre (CLSC)
The hiring of additional staff has reduced wait times and significantly cut down on temporary short‑term closures of the phone line. During temporary phone line closures clients can request a call‑back.
10.6 Clinic Information Management System CIMS)
LAO has provided community legal clinics with updated computer hardware. A consultant, MNP, has also been hired to implement changes needed to improve the performance of the CIMS system and has introduced a new navigation method that has significantly increased the speed of the system.
10.7 Project Rosemary
The Racialized Communities Strategy (RSC) has launched Project Rosemary, which allows for the collection of race‑based data from existing LAO clients and new applicants. An online training program is being developed and a full report will be presented to the board at a future meeting.
10.8 Employee Engagement Survey
The Human Resources (HR) department has organized employee engagement focus groups. HR has been observing these sessions and is developing a roll‑up report with feedback and suggestions received for presentation to the board.
10.9 Federal government analysis of refugee services
A federal government analysis of the current refugee law system in Canada suggests that it is in need of a major overhaul. The analysis contains four observations that directly affect LAO:
- Early access to work permits could decrease costs of means testing,
- Quality assurance should be tied to funding to increase public accountability of legal aid costs,
- As compared to pre‑2012, a higher proportion of claimants have representation, and
- Many inefficiencies in scheduling are borne by legal aid and are reflected in the cost of providing refugee law services.
10.10 Proactive disclosure of expenses
Since the last report to the board of directors, the president has incurred business expenses totaling $5,834.62 associated with attendance at the ALAP Annual General Meeting and at stakeholder meetings.
10.11 Litigation Report
The vice-president and general counsel presented the Litigation Report.
DECISION: The board received the President’s report.
The meeting adjourned.