Aboriginal Justice Strategy: 2011-12 Action Plan

Aboriginal Justice Strategy
2011-2012 Action Plan
The mandate of LAO’s Aboriginal Justice Strategy (AJS) is to establish a
plan to achieve measurable improvements in service to Aboriginal People.
Service issues identified by stakeholders and discussed in detail in the
2008 AJS development paper fit into four overarching areas:
1 Barriers to accessing justice
2 Lack of Aboriginal representation within LAO and LAO’s
Advisory Systems
3 Lack of Aboriginal legal representation or legal
representation that is appropriately informed on the unique
needs of Aboriginal clients
4 Improving service on Aboriginal specific legal issues and
addressing the role of LAO in participating or supporting
Aboriginal specific or driven processes
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• The 2008-2009 Action Plan included 12 initiatives focused on building
awareness, relationships and a knowledge base within LAO.
• The 2009-2010 Action Plan included 8 initiatives that focused on
building the capacity of LAO’s service providers and giving them more
resources, training and knowledge.
• The 2010-2011 Action Plan included 4 initiatives that focused on
adding sustainability and solidifying relationships and connections with
Aboriginal stakeholders and service providers.
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Highlights of the Aboriginal
Justice Strategy
• Implementation of the Gladue panel for criminal lawyers
wishing to acknowledge criminal certificates for Aboriginal
clients. This means that lawyers now have to meet specific
standards in order to represent Aboriginal clients.
• Block fees introduced through the Gladue enhancement
program. This ensures that counsel have sufficient hours
to prepare and make Gladue submissions and therefore
are properly representing their Aboriginal clients.
• Over 500 LAO staff have attended Aboriginal Cultural
Competency Training.
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Aboriginal Certificate Clients
April 1, 2010 until March 31 2011:
• LAO issued a total of 9,912 certificates to people who identified as
Aboriginal, a total of 10% of all certificates issued in this time period:
– 14% of LAO’s criminal certificates are being issued to Aboriginal clients
– 15% of the certificates LAO issued for serious offences are for Aboriginal
– 12% of LAO’s criminal certificates issued to youth are Aboriginal clients
– 11% of any Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) related certificates are
issued to Aboriginal clients
• Aboriginal people only make up 2% of Ontario’s population. There are
regional differences: Aboriginal people make up more than 55% of
LAO’s clients in the Northern region and 4% in the GTA.
• The fact that LAO knows who and where Aboriginal clients are is
invaluable for decision-making and priority setting.
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The 2011-2012 Action Plan includes 8 proposed initiatives
focusing on defining LAO’s role in providing sustainable
long-term funding and services that address the unique
legal rights and needs of Aboriginal individuals,
communities, stakeholders and service providers.
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1. Building a sustainable long-term funding plan for
Aboriginal Justice programs
2. Evaluation, review and agreement with
Nishnawbe-Aski Legal Services Corporation
3. Outreach and communication strategy
4. Aboriginal recruitment and mentorship plan
5. Regional assessment plan
6. AJS clinic initiative
7. Sustainable long-term cultural training program
8. Aboriginal child protection plan
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Building Sustainable Funding Plan
• In 1999, LAO dedicated money to fund innovative service
projects. The Innovations Fund, the Aboriginal Fund, and the
Victims of Violence Fund were set up as time-limited funding for
special programs that promoted access to justice.
• Specifically, the Aboriginal Fund provided funding to Aboriginal
Legal Services of Toronto’s Gladue Caseworker Program and the
Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres’ Community
Justice Program. The Department of Justice Canada and the
Ministry of the Attorney General also supported both programs
and after an evaluation the three sponsors have continued to
provide funding.
• A plan will be developed to continue funding successful initiatives
on a long-term basis and to move away from short-term
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Evaluation, Review & Agreement with
Nishnawbe-Aski Legal Services
• The current Memorandum of Understanding between LAO and
NALSC has expired, although it is still in effect pursuant to the
duration clause.
• It is recommended that an evaluation, review and consultation
take place prior to entering into a new agreement with NALSC.
• This evaluation will guide the form and content of any new
agreement between LAO and NALSC to provide LAO services
to Nishnawbe-Aski Nation clients.
• This project will take approximately 18 months.
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Outreach & Communication Strategy
• Ensure there is communication and outreach between
LAO and Aboriginal communities on a local, regional
and provincial level.
• Ensure sensitive and thoughtful consideration is given
when assisting Aboriginal clients.
• Ensure barriers have not been created and that
resources are accessible in various formats and
forums that address the unique needs of Aboriginal
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Aboriginal Recruitment and
Mentorship Plan
• Continue the development of a recruitment policy aimed at
hiring Aboriginal staff through the Lawyer Workforce Strategy
and other LAO Human Resources initiatives.
• Include an Aboriginal component to the Criminal Lawyers’
Association/Legal Aid Ontario Mentorship Program.
• Provide accessible technology-based tools that will allow
lawyers across Ontario to access the Mentorship Program.
• This will also allow lawyers who represent Aboriginal clients to
provide specific knowledge to others and will result in improved
legal services to Aboriginal clients and communities
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AJS Clinic Initiative
• During the 2009/2010 clinic funding application process, gaps
in knowledge and awareness of Aboriginal clients’ needs
became apparent.
• LAO has made it a priority to improve legal aid services to
Aboriginal individuals and communities, and expects that
clinics will aim to improve their services as well.
• It is recommended that LAO work with individual clinics,
groups of clinics and the Association of Community Legal
Clinics of Ontario (ACLCO) to draw up a plan to improve
poverty law services to meet the unique needs of the
Aboriginal community they serve.
• LAO will also work with clinics and the ACLCO to identify their
Aboriginal community’s needs and the best way to improve
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Regional Assessment Plan
• In the AJS development paper and the 2008/09 Action Plan,
LAO adopted a policy defining Aboriginal services as a priority
by incorporating the Action Plan into the performance
contracts of executive and managerial staff.
• Due to the evolving nature of the AJS, it is important that LAO
and each of its Regions incorporate Action Plan initiatives into
their performance contracts annually.
• In order to ensure that Aboriginal initiatives are being made a
priority it is expected that the Regions are aiming to improve
their services as well.
• It is recommended that each Region work to identify what their
Aboriginal communities’ needs are and draw up a plan to
improve their services to meet those needs.
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Long-term Cultural Training
• Delivery of training that reflects LAO’s mandate of
providing quality legal aid services to low-income
Aboriginal individuals and communities.
• Currently over 500 LAO staff have attended Aboriginal
Cultural Competency Training.
• Continued training of new staff and ongoing training of
current staff should take place that is accessible, cost
effective and includes the use of technology and
innovative approaches that are accessible to a wide range
of individuals.
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Aboriginal Child Protection Plan
• During the 2008/2009 AJS consultations, one of the most
commonly heard issues from Aboriginal communities and
stakeholders was the lack of public legal education on Child
Protection rights.
• Currently there are more Aboriginal children in care right
now than at the height of the residential school system.
• 11 per cent of LAO’s Child and Family Services Act related
certificates are issued to Aboriginal clients. Aboriginal
children represent 22 per cent of Ontario Crown wards.
• Written, web based and public outreach on Child Protection
will allow Aboriginal individuals and communities to know
their rights and provide accessible and culturally sensitive
information that promotes access to justice.
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