Public proceedings of the Board
Meeting of the Board of Directors on April 19, 2013
Board members present
John McCamus (Chair); Aly Alibhai; Nancy Cooper; Michelle Haigh; John Liston; James McNee; Derry Millar; Robert W. Ward (CEO/Ex Officio)
Ida Bianchi; David Field; Ryan Fritsch; Jawad Kassab; Charles Lafortune; Stephanie Mealing; Karl Martineau; Kirstie Mathers-McHenry; Sue McCaffrey; David McKillop; Michelle Séguin; Nye Thomas
1. Meeting agenda
The meeting agenda was adopted.
2. Disclosure of conflict of interest
During the time when Board member Tim Murphy sits as co-chair of the provincial Liberal election campaign, he is taking an unpaid leave of absence, in compliance with the Public Service of Ontario Act (PSOA). Mr. Murphy can rejoin the Board once the campaign ends.
3. Board meetings
The minutes of the Board meetings held February 1, 2013, March 1, 2013 and April 2, 2013 were adopted.
4. Chair’s report
The Chair reported that he had:
- attended a swearing-In ceremony for new judges at the Court of Appeal
- attended the annual meeting of the Ontario Justice Education Network (OJEN); he noted that LAO’s Director of Communications, a member of OJEN’s board, was recently appointed treasurer of OJEN
- attended a meeting of the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) Access to Justice Committee
- attended a meeting with the Hon. R. Roy McMurtry and George Thomson, accompanied by Board member Derry Millar, to discuss clinic strategic planning
- attended a meeting with Osgoode Hall Law School colleagues to discuss clinic strategic planning.
He expressed the Board’s appreciation to Stephanie Mealing, the Assistant Secretary, for organizing an April 18, 2013 visit to College Park Ontario Court of Justice as well as other site visits.
4.1 Clinic modernization
The Chair invited discussion on the role of the Clinic Committee in implementing clinic modernization. He noted that, under the statute, the Clinic Committee may have a role in providing policy advice of a general nature with respect to clinic funding. This matter will be researched further and will come back to the Board for decision.
4.2 Proactive disclosure of expenses
The Chair disclosed his travel and accommodation expenses for attending a National Justice Symposium on Criminal Law and Mental Health in Montreal.
4.3 Video presentation
A video presentation prepared by the Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission was shared with the board.
4.4 Board appointments
The Chair noted that some Board members’ Orders in Council are coming up for renewal, and that there are two vacancies on the Board. He invited suggestions for membership and/or competencies, and will contact the Ministry Senior Advisor, Appointments.
4.5 Complaint against LAO panel member
The Board received a complaint about a lawyer’s conduct in a Consent and Capacity Board (CCB) matter. The President and CEO will circulate, to the Chair and Board of Directors, a draft letter responding to the complaint, for approval.
A discussion followed on training requirements for re-empanelment. The Chair suggested that a comprehensive report on panel management become a standing item for the Board.
The Board received the report on a complaint against a LAO panel member.
The Board received the Chair’s report.
5. President and CEO’s report (second installment)
5.1 Clinics in Dispute Resolution
The Board received an update on clinics in dispute resolution.
5.2 Pay for performance
The Vice-President and CAO presented the Report on Pay for Performance for the 2012/13 performance year. It addresses performance increases to executives, managers and lawyers for the performance cycle ending on March 31, 2013.
The Board approved that LAO maintain the same pay for performance percentage increases for the 2012/13 performance year, to be paid in 2013/14, as those paid for in 2012/13 for the 2011/12 performance year.
5.4 Association of Legal Aid Plans of Canada (ALAP)
The President and CEO currently serves as the Chair of ALAP—an organization comprised of legal aid plans throughout the provinces and territories. This year, the association is endeavouring to become a coalition of parties interested in access to justice that makes public statements on matters of common interest to the legal aid community (e.g. legislative changes, etc.). Recently, for instance, ALAP submitted a brief to the federal government, and sent a letter to the Senate on proposed legislation.
5.5 Canadian Bar Association symposium
Representatives from legal aid plans across the country (including four from LAO) will be attending an upcoming Canadian Bar Association national symposium on access to justice.
The Board received the President’s Report.
6. Committee reports
6.1 Audit and Finance committee decision
- adopted the minutes of the Audit and Finance Committee Meeting held February 27, 2013
- approved the 2013/14 draft operating budget and financial estimates for 2014/15 and 2015/16
6.2 Clinic committee
The Board Chair reported that the clinic committee minutes include the committee’s reasons for decision and specific terms and conditions for the continuation of funding to West Toronto Community Legal Services for an additional two quarters.
The Board received the minutes of the clinic committee meeting held March 14, 2013.
7. Board reports
7.1 Value-for-money audit recommendations update
The President and CEO provided a status update on implementing the 2011 Auditor General value-for-money audit recommendations. There has been significant progress on most of the recommendations, including:
- performance measures
- timely tabling of LAO’s annual reports
- negotiating a new Memorandum of Understanding with the ministry
- improved financial eligibility and
- decrease in the number of panel members with conditional status.
Auditor General staff will be on site to review LAO’s progress in early summer.
Pursuant to the Auditor General’s recommendation, LAO will discuss quality of service and panel lawyer discipline with the Law Society of Upper Canada. A Board member suggested that LAO expand its panel management role (i.e. commence conducting quality assurance audits, etc.)
The Board received the value for money audit recommendations update.
7.2 IT Strategy
The Vice President and CAO introduced the Director, Central Programming and Innovation (CP&I) and the Acting Chief Information Officer. She reported that:
- IT and those responsible for service delivery are developing a partnership to decide where and how to invest in IT, while prioritizing an IT infrastructure with a vision of service provision
- Deloitte has been retained to conduct market research and make recommendations on IT-based client service
- LAO’s existing financial system is meeting LAO’s unique needs, but upgrades are needed to get a sense of the costs attached to a client across the service spectrum, to inform future service provision based on individual need, and to provide all service providers, including duty counsel, with access to client information.
- At this point, LAO is examining methods by which to integrate clients’ technology so that the system recognizes the client on contact.
- IT infrastructure and excess Law Foundation of Ontario (LFO) revenues will fund this strategy. Board approval will be required for the expense of any upgrades.
- LAO is currently using internal funding to reconfigure its Client Relationship Management (CRM) system, and it is on budget and on time.
The Board approved the IT Strategy in Support of LAO Client Service Ideal: A Five-Year IT Strategic Roadmap in principal, and also approved the release of an RFP for consulting services to support the PeopleSoft Financial Systems upgrade.
7.3 Refugee services delivery model
The Vice President and CAO presented, and the Board approved, a Refugee Services Delivery Model Status Update report. She reported that:
- it addresses legitimate concerns expressed throughout an extensive consultation process
- uncertainties in the field preclude the development of a final or complete model for service delivery in this area
- an interim series of pilot projects along with a number of new ideas are in development.
The Director, Corporate Services, Planning and Strategic Initiatives, reported the following:
- There has been a 50 per cent reduction in refugee services year over year, driven by the legislation and apparent inactivity in overseas programs, resulting in fewer refugee claims. The reduction in claims is negatively impacting the private bar.
- The new legislation is expected to be challenged through the courts.
- LAO continues to experience pressure due to changes in IRB hearings, resulting in increased costs. LAO is carefully monitoring developments at the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).
- At LAO, service provision is based on merit assessment, not the “safe country list.” LAO has recently launched pilot projects and a proposed service delivery initiatives.
The Board approved in principle the Refugee Services Delivery Model.
7.4 Transfer Payment Accountability Directive Attestation
The Vice President, Strategic Planning and Compliance presented, and the Board approved, a Transfer Payment Accountability Directive Attestation report. This report explains that, as an annual requirement for all organizations funded by the Government of Ontario, the Chair is required to attest that LAO has the tools to ensure proper spending of funds and that LAO is managing the expenditures of the clinics as required. Performance measures and controls are now incorporated so that information about clinics will be included in the analysis and review.
The Board approved the Transfer Payment Accountability Directive Attestation.
7.5 RFP for Multilanguage Interpretation and Translation Service
The Vice-President, Policy, Research and External Relations presented a Contracting for Multilanguage Interpretation and Translation Services report.
In May 2011, LAO entered into a two-year contract with Multilingual Community Interpreter Services (MCIS) to provide interpretation and translation services to the Client Service Centre (CSC) and to the clinics. The contract will expire on June 30, 2013. A new RFP is under development on the basis of a generally positive evaluation report and recommendations. He reviewed the statistics, including service volume and cost per minute, as well as survey results from CSC and clinic staff who use the program. Other than a recommendation for increased promotion of the program, there were few suggestions for improvement.
The Board approved the initiation of a Request for Proposal (RFP) process to procure a vendor or vendors, beginning on July 1, 2013, to provide:
- multi-language interpretation and translation services to clinics and SLASS
- multi-language interpretation services to LAO’s CSC and
- training for LAO and clinic/SLASS users, including preparation of materials and guidelines on effective use of multi-language services.
The Board authorized the President and CEO to sign the contract(s) with the successful bidder(s).
7.6 Policy initiatives
7.6.1 Expanding financial eligibility update
The Vice President, Policy, Research and External Relations, reported that the 2011 Auditor General’s report had recommended that LAO address financial eligibility and that, in response, an extensive research paper had been prepared. Among its findings:
- In 1995, financial eligibility was reduced by 22 per cent.
- At the current rate of inflation, the only people who will qualify in future are those who are on social assistance or incarcerated.
The Director General, Policy and Strategic Research, presented an update on LAO’s financial eligibility modernization project, based on empirical evidence and policy research that has identified a proposed strategy going forward.
The eligibility proposals will be further developed and brought back to the Board, and that this project will be in next year’s Business Plan.
A consultation strategy is in development.
The Board received the Expanding Financial Eligibility Update.
7.6.2 Mental Health Strategy
The Mental Health policy counsel presented the proposed framework for LAO’s Mental Health Strategy and reported that:
- staff is seeking approval in principle to proceed with the next steps in development of the strategy
- extensive consultation and research paint a compelling picture of the disproportionate representation of persons with mental illness in the justice system
- research is underway to examine how mental illness intersects with LAO’s mandate
- key imperatives and a four-point framework have been developed.
The Board discussed systemic issues and test cases, agreed that mental health issues are endemic in the poverty law world, and that the mental health strategy should be a major consideration in clinic modernization.
The Board approved in principle the recommended strategic directions and next steps for the Mental Health Strategy and also approved in principle the release of a public consultation paper based on this brief, once reviewed by the CEO and Chair.
7.6.3 Child-protection initiatives
Family law policy counsel presented a report on Child-protection initiatives and said that the number of lawyers willing to accept Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) cases is declining, due to lower remuneration and lack of training for students and junior lawyers in law schools or in practice.
Osgoode Hall Law School has instituted an Experiential Education program to offer practical training for students, and has agreed to include a course on child protection law. A steering group comprised of the Children’s Lawyer, some judges and counsel to Chief Justices is enthusiastic about offering this training. Once students finish the course, internships will likely be available with the Children’s Lawyer, the Children’s Aid Societies, parent counsel, etc. This course will be offered to other interested law schools; the University of Windsor and the University of Toronto have expressed an interest.
Lawyers who act for parents don’t have the same access to information and services as Children’s Aid Societies. LAO will explore ways to provide them with access to better resources to address clinical issues.
The Board received the Report on Child-protection initiatives.
7.7 President and CEO Final Performance Review for 2011/12
In camera session.