Public proceedings of the Board

Meeting of the Board of Directors on June 18, 2015

Attendance

Board members present

John McCamus (Chair); Nancy Cooper; Michelle Haigh; John Liston; James McNee; Tim Murphy; 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 conflict of interest was identified.

3. Presidents report (first instalment)

3.1 Meeting with Criminal Lawyers Association (CLA) representatives

The President reported that he and the Chair met with CLA representatives. The CLA presented the following items for discussion:

  • cost of living increase to tariff rates
  • provide LAO Board reports related to criminal law to CLA for comment prior to presentation
  • discontinue Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFAs)
  • pay approved accounts within three days
  • increase trial preparation time
  • no trials or guilty pleas on certificate-eligible matters for LAO staff or per diem
  • reduce number of staff lawyers, replace with certificates
  • additional ten per cent administration fee to certificates
  • broaden discretion across the board.

At the meeting, the President informed the CLA, that LAO has not had time to consider discussions of a new MOU because LAO has been busy with the rollout of enhanced financial eligibility and ongoing stakeholder engagement with the ministry.

The CEO advised the Board that CLAs list of suggestions will be analysed to determine if LAO can fulfil any of the requests, in whole or in part. A thoughtful and reasonable response to the CLA suggestions will be drafted and presented to the Board for approval. The response will include the following points:

  • information about improvements that LAO has implemented over the last several years resulting in better quality client service
  • a reminder of LAO efforts to support private sector lawyers
  • LAO does not intend to reduce its number of staff lawyers
  • LAO will continue to offer voluntary AFAs in all areas of law.

LAO staff lawyers will be informed of relevant elements of the communication, to ensure they have confidence in their employment status.

3.2 Program review process

The President and CEO reported that he had received a summary of a MAG meeting on the program review process. This summary said that Treasury Board has approved the MAG and MAG agencies program review initiatives. One of the items that LAO had put forward to the ministry dealt with the inordinate number of Ontario Disability Support Program refusals that are reversed on appeal.

3.3 Meeting with the Auditor General

In a recent meeting, the Auditor General said that she would create an Advisory Committee to the Auditor Generals office.

3.4 Enhanced financial eligibility

There has been an increase in activity in new business:

  • since November, certificates under the new requirements are up to over 1,000
  • LAO is on track to issue 10,000 to 14,000 additional certificates this year
  • a plan is in place to spend the money within the fiscal year

3.5 Ministers roundtable

The theme of the ministers roundtable will be Better Justice Together. The main issue will be fiscal restraint, i.e., how to do more with reduced budgets. While the Treasury Board framework will drive this process, there is no indication that it will result in new legislation or a new budget. The LAO Board will receive a document explaining the process.

3.6 311 Jarvis Street courthouse

A sub-committee comprised of prosecutors and private bar lawyers will be created to examine the use of LAO paralegals and non-lawyer staff in the 311 Jarvis Street provincial courthouse. The GTA Regional Vice-President is working with the judiciary on this matter.