Teleconference Meeting of the Board of Directors, April 18, 2019

Published: October 31, 2019


1. Attendance

1.1 Board members

Charles Harnick (Chair), John McCamus (outgoing Chair), Nancy Cooper (by teleconference), Christa Freiler (by teleconference), Derry Millar (by teleconference), Peter Owsiany (by teleconference), Sean Robichaud (by teleconference), Michel Robillard (by teleconference), James Yakimovich (by teleconference), Ann‑Marie Yantz (by teleconference), David Field (CEO/Ex Officio)

1.2 Staff

Janet Budgell, Mary‑Ann Cocchetto, Stephanie Mealing, Louis Dimitracopoulos, Kathleen Murphy

1.3 Regrets

Remy Boulbol, Carol Hartman

2. Disclosure of Conflict of Interest

One member disclosed that some strategies identified could affect them personally. That member undertook to abstain from voting on those recommendations.

3. Suspension of Law Foundation of Ontario (LFO) Revenue Reliance Reduction Policy Framework

The outgoing Chair presented the Report on the Suspension of the Law Foundation Policy Framework and reported as follows: the LFO Policy Framework was created approximately a decade ago when LFO income was considerably lower. At that time, staff had expressed concerns with respect to relying on a variable income stream and, consequently, the Board moved to limit the amount of LFO funding for core programs to a maximum of $15M. The Vice‑President and General Counsel reported that staff are requesting that the Board temporarily suspend this policy given LAO’s need to rely on LFO revenues for the current fiscal year and given the increase in the amount of LFO revenues in recent years. Staff are proposing a suspension of the policy for a one‑year term with an option to review the suspension on a year‑to‑year basis.

DECISION: The Board approved a one‑year suspension of the LFO Revenue Reliance Policy Framework to enable LAO to use LFO revenue to fund core programs.

4. Provincial Budget Considerations

4.1 Expenditure Savings Strategy for 2019/20

The President and CEO reported that LAO’s income for 2019/20 has been significantly reduced. Given the funding envelope LAO has been provided with for the current year, staff have been asked to develop ideas that could address LAO’s financial situation immediately. Staff are working on initiatives that can be accomplished quickly to address immediate pressures with minimum impact on clients, and at the same time, provide opportunities to develop longer‑term initiatives.

The CAO presented the current financial position which projects a deficit for 2019/20 of $75M. A deficit of $48M to $53M was previously forecasted, however, the figure was amended to reflect outstanding certificates, primarily in the areas of immigration and refugee law, at a cost of $12M. As well, an adjustment was made because of a clarification that $9M income for bail initiatives was included within LAO’s total transfer payment.

The CAO advised that LAO is projecting a $20M to $35M budget deficit even if the proposed savings are achieved. In its planning, LAO has spread the reductions across all service lines. Staff identified LAO’s key cost drivers and outlined an expenditure savings strategy to achieve savings as follows: Administration (anticipated savings of $16.6M), Clinics (anticipated savings of $15M), Private Bar (anticipated savings of $13.9M) and Policy (anticipated savings of $10.5M).

The Board will be updated and consulted regularly and should staff encounter any fluctuations in the process of implementation, the Board will be asked to consider other possible scenarios.

DECISION: The Board approved the set of options contained in the Expenditure Savings Strategy for the fiscal year, 2019/20 as tabled, with one board member abstaining and another opposing.

4.2 Communications Plan

The President presented Communication Plan options on the Budget Implementation and Review Process.

DECISION: The Board approved a Communications Plan. Two members opposed.

DECISION: Meeting adjourned.