Update on LAO`s accomplishments, ongoing

Legal Aid Ontario
Legal Aid Ontario
Bob Ward, President and CEO
January 25, 2012
Update on LAO’s accomplishments,
ongoing plans and priorities
LAO’s accomplishments and priorities
support the following goals:
• Improve access and services to clients
• Strengthen LAO’s capabilities and provide value for
• Support and assist service providers
Service improvements for clients
 Projection of 100,000-105,000 certificates issued and 800,000 clients
provided with duty counsel support in 2011/12
 Call centre (Client Service Centre) answers 1,300 calls daily:
 Services available in over 200 languages
 Up to 20 minutes of summary legal advice is available
 Call wait times are maintained at targeted levels.
 Responded to more than 500,000 client calls since launching in 2008
 More than 45 per cent of all legal aid applications are processed
through the CSC
 87 per cent of CSC clients receive a same day decision on their legal
aid application
Service improvements for clients
 Offices in 56 courthouse locations have improved service and
 40 per cent of all legal aid applications are completed at a courthouse
 89 per cent of certificate applications receive a decision on the day of
the application
 61 per cent of clients are seen before their first court appearance
 Duty counsel and staff roles continue to be refined, to be more clientfocused and service-oriented
 More than 50,000 clients have received assistance at a courthouse
 Courthouse locations represent more than 93 per cent of all criminal
matters heard in the Province of Ontario
Service improvements for clients
 Services maintained at nine district offices – Including Ottawa
 Implementation of Simplified Financial Eligibility Test in February 2011
has simplified the application process for clients and shortened the time
it takes to get a decision on eligibility
 More transparent complaints process introduced in August 2011
 Public legal information section of LAO’s public website
(LawFacts/Faites de Droit– focus on various areas of law)
Improvements for service providers
 Tariff increases: tariff will increase an additional 22 per cent in next four
years (between 1995/96 and 2015/16, the tariff will increase 63 per
Funding rates for experts increased by $1 million per year, beginning
April 1, 2011
Complex Case Rate for criminal cases introduced: CCR tariff rate is
$129.81 per hour (will increase to $161.05 by 2015)
Reduced processing times for lawyer payments and other services to
lawyers. Hourly tariff accounts now paid up to the tariff maximum within
30 days of receipt
Enhancing panel management: greater support for lawyers in meeting
quality, compliance and efficiency expectations
Working with service providers on block fees. Phase 2 of criminal law
block fee pilot was implemented in May 2011
Strengthening capability & value for taxpayers
 Reduced deficit from projected $29 million to $8 million
 Focus on reduction of expenditures in administration
 Cost of a legal aid application has been reduced by 26 per cent (from
$173 to $129)
Regional model comprised of nine districts has replaced 51 area
offices. More application work is being moved to the CSC to enable
regional staff to undertake enhanced duty counsel and panel
management work
Working with clinics to reduce clinic administration costs
New clinic management information system
Implemented block fees in criminal law
New area committee process
LAO’s SFET Guidelines
No full certificate for single person
in Ontario if gross income is over
• $10,800/yr = $900/month =
DC/summary legal advice guidelines
are somewhat higher
Clinic and BCM guidelines have
limited discretion
LAO Certificates
Ottawa District: Criminal law
Certificates Issued YTD December by Major Aid
FY2010 vs FY2011
Duty Counsel Assists
Number of Duty Counsel Assists by Major Aid
FY2010 vs FY2011
Legal Aid Ontario - Discretion
In the 12 months ending August 2011, LAO paid out
approximately $12.8 m for discretion payments - 9% of
total standard certificate budget cost
Financial Eligibility
 Last eligibility adjustments:
 certificate guidelines in 1995, when they were reduced by 22%;
 clinic guidelines in 1993
 Financial eligibility rates are established by regulation and are not
controlled by LAO
 Implementation of the simplified eligibility test (SFET) has clearly
demonstrated how low the current levels are
 LAO’s goal for 2011-2012 is to conduct research to support a plan for
increasing financial eligibility over the next few years, and options for
funding any potential increase.
Financial Eligibility
 LAO has improved financial accessibility within current rules:
 Simplified Financial Eligibility Test (SFET)
 Creation of summary legal advice hotline
 Limited use of public interest exceptions in BCM cases
 LAO modernization has allowed duty counsel and clinics to serve more
people within limits of current financial eligibility rules
 There are legal and financial limits on LAO’s ability to expand
financial accessibility

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