Meeting of the Board of Directors on May 11, 2018
Published: May 11, 2018
1.1 Board members present
John McCamus (Chair), Nancy Cooper, Christa Freiler, Derry Millar, James McNee, Ann Marie Yantz, James Yakimovich, David Field (CEO/Ex Officio)
Janet Budgell, Mary‑Ann Cocchetto, Louis Dimitracopoulos, Stephanie Mealing, Rod Strain, Ivan Yablonsky
Arminda Dumpierrez (principal consultant), and Lauren Nagler (senior associate representing Optimus/SBR)
Remy Boulbol (on temporary leave of absence), Carol Hartman, Tim Murphy (on temporary leave of absence), Michel Robillard
2. Meeting agenda
The meeting agenda was adopted.
3. Conflict of interest
No conflict of interest was identified.
4. Chair’s opening remarks
As a designated public body under the Public Service of Ontario Act, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is subject to political activity rules during the election campaign. Any requests for clarification with respect to restrictions on political activities by members of the Board during the election period should be directed to the Vice‑President & General Counsel.
4.1 President’s verbal update
The President and CEO presented a verbal update of recent activities, as follows:
- Financial position
LAO finished the fiscal year with a surplus in the amount of $11.5 million.
- Performance and services provided to clients
The Duty Counsel Program served 643,000 clients (a seven per cent increase over the previous year); approximately 102,000 certificates were issued (nine per cent fewer than the previous year); and, more clients are being served through alternatives to the certificate program.
- Labour relations update
Associate general counsel provided a labour relations update.
- Employee engagement survey
The President and CEO reported as follows:
- more than 700 LAO staff participated in the survey, a 73 per cent response rate
- the survey identified areas for improvement and plans are in development to address these opportunities
- Inclusion and Diversity
More than 75 staff attended in‑person and another 50 participated via a web cast of the recent Inclusion and Diversity Symposium hosted by LAO. Suggested improvements from staff included:
- more education programs
- increased awareness, and the elimination of, unconscious bias
- attention to mental health issues
Human Resources is developing a strategy in partnership with the Inclusion and Diversity Committee.
- Financial eligibility funding
Additional funding was received April 1, 2018, allowing LAO to increase the financial eligibility threshold and provide funding increases to clinics and Student Legal Aid Services Societies to expand services to more eligible clients.
- Increase in refugee services
If the current trend continues, LAO may be faced with a considerable increase over and above its refugee program budget. LAO is seeking additional funding to cover increased demand, and developing strategies to provide services more efficiently and effectively.
The development of new clinic foundational documents, including ongoing discussions with the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario (ACLCO), continues. Financial eligibility funding of $7.2 million has been allocated to community legal clinics.
- Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC)
LAO has contracted to fund a new clinic to replace the African Canadian Legal Clinic (ACLC). BLAC will have a provincial mandate and will engage in law reform as well as direct client service. BLAC is in the process of incorporating and hiring staff and an executive director. LAO has granted one‑time funding to the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers (CABL) to provide law reform services in the interim. Services are also currently being provided to the Black community through LAO’s Test Case Program. BLAC has issued an RFP for consultation services to determine the legal needs of members of the African‑Canadian community.
- Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC)
- Racialized Communities Strategy
LAO has begun the collection of race‑based data and the Board will be provided with a report on the results in due course.
- Auditor General of Ontario
The Value-for-Money Audit is on‑going.
- Clinic Information Management System (CIMS)
The outside consultant retained by LAO has succeeded in implementing improvements and efficiencies to the system.
- Knowledge and Information Management (KIM)
An improved intake process will be launched in the coming months.
- Client and Lawyer Service Centre (CLSC)
Recent wait times have exceeded service level standards. New staff have been recruited and trained to address this issue and some regional staff are providing support to the call centre to help ensure that calls are answered in a timely manner.
- Hamilton Boldness Project
The Hamilton Boldness Project consists of a series of sessions with Hamilton community organizations providing services to low‑income people, including non‑justice partners. The goal is to reduce interaction with the justice system and to hear directly from the community about its needs and how LAO can work in partnership to help address them.
- Client Satisfaction Survey
The survey aims to assess client satisfaction by area of law. It was sent to clients who have provided LAO with their email address and yielded the following response rates: 84 per cent of refugee law clients rated the service they received as ‘positive’; 77 per cent of criminal law responses were also ‘positive’; and, 70 per cent of family law responses were ‘positive’. Questions were grouped thematically and included:
- How did you access legal counsel?
- Was there any difficulty in doing so?
- How did you change counsel if you were not satisfied?
4.2 Environmental Scan: discussion of key opportunities
The Vice-President, Strategic Planning and Compliance, introduced lead statistician Ivan Yablonsky from LAO’s Business Intelligence and Statistics department, who presented the most recent Environmental Scan, and discussed the development of a long‑term strategic plan that is responsive to the changing environment.
4.3 Key risks
The Vice-President, Strategic Planning and Compliance, presented the Enterprise Risk Report.
4.4 Board performance and self-assessment
The Vice-President & General Counsel reviewed the results of the Board Performance Assessment survey. A confidential report about the in‑camera discussion of Board performance will be provided to Board members.
4.5 Five-year strategic plan
Arminda Dumpierrez, principal consultant, and Laura Nagler, senior associate, from the firm of Optimus/SBR introduced their proposed strategic planning project and invited the Board to provide insights into the articulation of LAO’s vision in preparation for the stakeholder engagement phase of the project. A report on their conclusions will be presented at the next meeting of the Board of Directors.
The meeting adjourned.