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News room/ Highlights

Highlights 2007-2008


Key decisions made by the Commissioners

The Commissioners adopted a modernization plan for distributing legal aid network resources. Adoption of the plan will allow for improved distribution of resources allocated to the Commission des services juridiques by the Conseil du trésor (Quebec’s treasury board) to meet the demands of legal aid clients.

As part of the orientations adopted by the Conseil du trésor regarding implementation of modern and proven internal audit practices, the Commission’s administrative committee formed itself into an audit committee. In that capacity, it will meet with the Commission’s external auditor who will be mandated to audit the Commission’s financial statements and who will have supervisory powers over regional office auditors.

Third increase of eligibility thresholds

On January 1, 2008 legal aid eligibility thresholds were increased for the third year in a row, following the adoption of the Regulation to amend the Regulation respecting legal aid, enacted by Order in Council 1277-2005 dated December 21, 2005. The Regulation provides for annual increases until January 1, 2010, inclusively.

The Regulation also provides for annual indexation of legal aid eligibility thresholds in keeping with the benefit increase rate granted under the Social Solidarity Program to persons with severe employment limitations.

Pay equity

On June 21, 2007, the Legal Aid Act was amended so that the Commission would be considered the employer of all regional centre employees for the purposes of the Pay Equity Act. Thus, a single pay equity program will be established for all Commission and regional centre employees.

Accordingly, representatives of the Commission and the regional centres, management and employees have embarked on discussions that should lead to the signing of a pay equity agreement as soon as possible in accordance with the provisions of the Pay Equity Act.

Assessment of the application of the Legal Aid Act

The Commission, together with the regional centres, continued its file audits to ensure proper application of the Legal Aid Act and the regulations enacted thereunder. The exercise indicated that no applicant was ineligible for legal aid on the date of the opening of the relevant file. For fiscal 2007-2008, the Commission noted significant improvement in the work carried out by the regional centres in that respect.

Undetermined applications

This fiscal year, the Commission, in conjunction with the regional centres, decided to track the distribution of applications not determined as at March 31, 2007. This is a first and the overall results are presented in tables1a) and 7a) of Section 11 on statistical data and client user profiles.

Information campaign

In the spring of 2007, the Commission's Service des communications and the lawyers in our regional centres launched an information campaign on the theme « Purchasing a used vehicle?a wise decision? ». On that occasion, the Commission and the regional centres provided consumers with a practical checklist they could use before and after buying a used vehicle. The campaign kicked off with a series of province-wide press conferences given by the Commission's network of lawyers. The Chairman and a lawyer from the Commission's Service de recherche also gave interviews to journalists from the various media.

Submissions made in connection with the Public Consultation on the Living Conditions of the Elderly

The Commission des services juridiques filed a submission in connection with the Public Consultation on the Living Conditions of the Elderly organized by The Honourable Marguerite Blais, Minister Responsible for Seniors. The submission recommended amendments to the Legal Aid Regulation that would make more elderly persons eligible for legal aid. The submission was enthusiastically received and a copy was sent to the Minister of Justice.

Robert-Sauvé Award

The Robert-Sauvé Award, Public-at-Large category, was given jointly (ex æquo) to two candidates: Arlène Gaudreault, for her work in the area of victimology and Mr. Fernand Côté, for his involvement with street youth. The Robert-Sauvé Award, Legal Aid Network category, was given to Claude Beaulieu, a retired lawyer from the Centre régional du Saguenay – Lac Saint-Jean, for his community involvement and his work defending disadvantaged clients.

Tariff of fees of advocates in private practice

During fiscal 2007-2008, the Ministère de la Justice reached an agreement with the Barreau du Québec pertaining to renewal of the Regulation to ratify the Agreement between the Minister of Justice and the Barreau du Québec entered into on 4 April 1997 respecting the conditions of practice, the procedure for the settlement of disputes and the tariff of fees of advocates under the legal aid plan. The Regulation will come into force in fiscal year 2009, and will be retroactive to April 1, 2007.

Operation Relevé 27 – Government payments

In fiscal 2008, the Commission des services juridiques contacted all lawyers whose fees are paid pursuant to issuance of legal aid mandates and it obtained the information necessary to issue Relevés 27 (government payment slips) prescribed by the Ministère du Revenu. That exercise was successful due in large part to the cooperation of the various lawyers participating in the legal aid plan. As a result, a greater number of lawyers send their invoices over the net and agree to be paid by direct deposit.

Megatrials

The Commission des services juridiques and the Ministère de la Justice du Québec entered into a new agreement respecting payment of the fees of lawyers in private practice involved in megatrials. The Commission des services juridiques manages account settlements resulting from court decisions ordering the Government of Québec to pay the professional fees of the lawyers of certain accused persons. Thus, Invoices sent by lawyers of fees not necessarily covered under the legal aid plan in private practice would be subject to the same audits. 

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© Commission des services juridiques Création: Diane Laurin - 2017