Meeting of the board of directors on June 27, 2018
Published: June 27, 2018
1.1 Board members present
Derr Millar (Chair), Remy Boulbol, Nancy Cooper, Christa Freiler, James McNee, Michel Robillard (by teleconference), James Yakimovich, Ann Marie Yantz, David Field (CEO/Ex Officio).
Janet Budgell, Mary‑Ann Cocchetto, David McKillop, Stephanie Mealing, Vicki Moretti, Marcus Pratt, Rod Strain, Keith Taller, Moya Teklu.
John McCamus, Carol Hartman, Tim Murphy.
Jessie Burns, Arminda Dumpierrez, and Les Jacobs.
2. Meeting agenda
The meeting agenda was adopted.
3. Conflict of interest
No conflict of interest was identified.
4. President’s 2018/19 performance contract
The Chair presented the President and CEO’s performance contract for 2019/18 and invited comments and suggestions. The board discussed amending the contract and agreed that the contract should be approved subject to the suggestions made by board members.
DECISION: The board approved the president’s 2019/20 performance contract as amended.
5. Board in camera session
The board of directors met in camera to privately discuss any issues of concern.
6. Strategic planning and visioning session
The vice‑president, strategic planning and compliance introduced professor Les Jacobs from the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies at York University, and Arminda Dumpierrez and Jessie Burns from Optimus/SBR. The vice‑president also reported that associates from Optimus/SBR have reviewed information contained in LAO’s environmental scan and other materials and continue to host consultations with a number of LAO’s stakeholders. Interviews have also been conducted with the board Chair and members of LAO’s executive team. The consultants will commence staff engagement in July, 2018.
The board discussed LAO’s use of information technology (IT) to provide greater access to legal services and potential IT improvements through expanded online applications, artificial intelligence (AI), and interactive programing.
7. Board report: Alternative Fee Arrangement (AFA) transition plan
The regional vice‑president, Greater Toronto Area (GTA) reported that in June 2018, the Audit and Finance Committee of the board recommended that the AFA pilot be allowed to expire and that options for a transition plan be presented to the board for approval. The committee proposed a plan that would provide all AFA participants with reasonable notice and staggers the administrative burden with respect to contract expirations. Measures will be taken to expedite online account submission and lawyer payments in order to ensure that there are no cash‑flow interruptions for AFA contractors. There will also be a reconciliation process that will match services to payments.
DECISION: The board approved the plan to allow for the expiration and non‑renewal of the AFA pilot program in accordance with the proposal in the AFA transition plan, as endorsed by the Audit and Finance Committee.
8. Board report: Prison Law Strategy
The vice-president, policy, research and external relations presented the Prison Law Strategy paper, reporting that LAO’s Prison Law Strategy aims to:
- increase internal knowledge and build capacity for service provision to provincial inmates,
- improve and expand services to provincial inmates, and
- address these clients’ needs through advocacy, partnerships, outreach and collaboration.
Extensive consultation has been undertaken in an effort to ascertain the needs of Ontario’s prison population. Work is continuing on this strategy paper and it will be brought back to the board of directors in final draft in the fall. In the meantime, staff requested the board’s approval to commence initiatives prioritized for implementation during the current fiscal year.
DECISION: The board approved the draft Prison Law Strategy and commencement of initiatives prioritized for implementation during the current fiscal year.
9. Racialized Communities Strategy consultation report
The vice‑president, policy, research and external relations presented a summary of the community consultations hosted by the Racialized Communities Strategy (RCS) staff. He reported that the RCS is LAO’s most recent vulnerable client strategy and that it follows the approach of extensive community consultation taken for LAO’s other client strategies.
Policy Counsel, Moya Teklu, presented the high-level themes and recommendations from the consultation process, including:
- Improved access to LAO services,
- Enhanced quality of service,
- Partnering with community agencies,
- Cultural competency training, and
- LAO to advocate for system-wide change to address the systemic oppression of racialized communities that persists within Ontario’s justice system.
A report summarizing the results of consultations will be prepared and publicly circulated and a strategy will be developed and submitted to the board for approval before the end of the calendar year.
DECISION: The board received the summary of consultations hosted by the RCS.
10. Client Consent and Declaration (C&D)
The vice-president, strategic planning and compliance presented an updated about the C&D. In 2000, pursuant to subsection 90(2) of the Legal Aid Services Act (LASA), the board authorized disclosure of otherwise confidential client information in clearly defined situations. Proposed revisions to the current C&D were presented to the board of directors on February 23, 2018, with provisions that clarified the circumstances in which LAO could gather information from third parties, including to verify lawyer’s billings, to exchange information with counsel with respect to legally‑aided services, and to share confidential information with the Law Society of Ontario related to concerns of suspected professional misconduct. The item was tabled and staff were directed by the board to further revise the C&D to ensure that clients can give informed consent to the disclosure of their confidential information. The vice-president highlighted that the following revisions have been made:
- Explicit definition as to when disclosure will be made,
- A statement that disclosure does not constitute a waiver of privilege, and
- Examples of the types of documents LAO might seek from third parties
Staff recommended that a full consent and limited privacy waiver form be developed so clients can authorize LAO to obtain non‑public third‑party records and to disclose information in the course of conducting an investigation, where necessary. Clear indication that the C&D does not constitute a waiver of privilege was also suggested.
DECISION: The board approved a full consent and limited privacy waiver form.
The meeting adjourned.