Public proceedings of the Board

Meeting of the Board of Directors on April 9, 2015

Attendance

Board members present

John McCamus (Chair); Nancy Cooper; Michelle Haigh; John Liston; James McNee; Derry Millar; Tim Murphy; James Yakimovich; Robert W. Ward (CEO/Ex Officio)

Staff

Sue McCaffrey, Stephanie Mealing

1. Meeting agenda

The meeting agenda was adopted.

2. Disclosure of conflict of interest

No conflicts of interest were identified.

3. Presidents report (first instalment)

3.1 Memorandum of Understanding

LAO met with representatives of the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG), including the minister, the Criminal Lawyers Association (CLA), the Refugee Lawyers Association (RLA), community legal clinics and others, in accordance with the January 2010 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The Attorney General reviewed:

  • the history of legal aid funding
  • priorities for improved access to justice as a result of the recent increases to financial eligibility
  • the need to work collaboratively; while the minister supports round table gatherings on access to justice issues and other matters outside the MOU, LAO is a provincial government agency mandated to conduct its business independently from the Government of Ontario

The LAO Chair spoke about financial eligibility.

The President of the CLA talked about the need for more transparency.

The Refugee Lawyers Association identified a need for funding certainty.

The Executive Director of the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario (ACLCO) reiterated the need to work together and emphasized the need for regular round-table discussions.

3.2 Security and renovations

Staff have identified a need for improved safety and security at LAOs 40 Dundas Street West reception area. Pre-tender estimates for the construction are highin the range of $190,000.00. No construction will be undertaken until the bids received are more reasonably priced.

The main boardroom needs to be upgraded, at a reasonable cost, to accommodate modern technology.

3.3 Business matters

Work on creation of a cost reduction strategy to deal with the unfunded tariff issue is ongoing.

LAOs financial picture is positive. A balanced budget is expected for the coming year. A number of programs are reaching maturity and costs are declining. The past calendar year has seen a dramatic decrease in client account write-offs.

The Big Case Management Office (BCMO) annual report provides clear evidence of increased efficiency and effectiveness. All elements, particularly financial indicators, are positive.

3.4 Non-lawyer staff

Some members of the judiciary have expressed concerns about paralegals and other non-lawyer legal aid workers appearing in provincial court and particularly at youth court at 311 Jarvis Street. Discussions on this matter are ongoing.