Following is a list of the information we would like to obtain from legal aid authorities in Ontario, B.C. and Quebec. We already have some of this information, but not at the desired level of detail. Some of the information is more relevant to the Cost Drivers study than the Representation study. We recognize that some of this information may not be available. We should simply indicate to each of the legal aid authorities that we would appreciate any of the listed information that they are able to produce without undue difficulty.
Total cost for immigration and refugee law cases (certificates [including both private retainers and RLO] and clinics), broken out by
type of case (CRDD, IAD, Adjudication, CIC, FCC);
means of delivery (private certificate, RLO, community clinic, student clinic);
source of costs (lawyer, paralegal, articling students, interpreters, students, other staff, other disbursements); and
proceedings covered (e.g., refugee status determination, judicial review, detention review, immigration inquiry, post-determination applications to CIC, immigration appeal).
Comparative information on fees and disbursements based on means of delivery:
the number of certificates issued and total amount paid;
the number of immigration and refugee cases where fees were billed for paralegals, articling students or others; and
the number of bills received where interpreter time was billed as a disbursement.
Information re: immigration and refugee clients:
The proportion of cases immigration and refugee cases in which the principal claimant (head of family) is female.
The number of immigration and refugee cases in which clients (or families) sign pay back (loan) agreements, or agree to pay portion of fees.
The following questions are phrased generically. The questions may have to be adapted or elaborated to fit the different circumstances applicable to legal aid authorities in different provinces
1. Do you have any information on what happens with immigrant and refugee clients who are refused legal aid? Do you refer ineligible immigrants and refugee claimants elsewhere? Where?
2. What does your agency do to ensure that legal aid coverage is consistent with actual time lawyers spend on immigration and refugee cases?
3. Do you have any information on the amount of unpaid time above tariff allowances that lawyers spend on immigration and refugee cases?
4. How often is discretion exercised to pay above the tariff in immigration and refugee cases? How often is this discretion denied? How much does this add to the cost for immigration and refugee legal aid?
5. Has your agency conducted any cost benefit analysis re: utility of researching ability of family members in Canada to pay for legal representation in immigration and refugee cases?
6.[The following question is applicable only to Legal Aid Ontario (LAO)]LAO has run pilot projects with specialized counsel panels for Mexico and Nigeria. What is the assessment of those pilots in terms of costs and quality of representation?
7. Does your agency carry out research relating to immigration and refugee issues for purposes of providing support material to counsel representing legal aid clients? Has this contributed to cost savings or to the quality of representation?
8. Does your agency provide any other similar forms of support to legal aid counsel or legally aided immigration and refugee clients? If so, have these supports contributed to cost saving or to the quality of representation?
9. Did your agency have any involvement in administration of the designated counsel program (1989 to 1992) for the federal government? What worked or did not work well in this program? In particular, do you have any information on costs and quality control considerations relating to the designated counsel program?
10. What quality control mechanisms does your agency utilize with regard to immigration and refugee cases and how effective are they?
11. In your opinion, are any of the services for immigration and refugee clients currently covered under your legal aid plan (or, if not covered, services for which there is significant demand for legal aid) that can adequately be provided by non-lawyers? Please elaborate.
11.1[Interviewers should preface the following question by indicating that they will be asking the respondent to comment on the qualities and or qualifications required for people who assist and represent immigrants and refugees in different proceedings and at different stages in those proceedings. Interviewers should indicate that respondents need not comment on proceedings with which they are unfamiliar.]What qualities (qualifications) should persons have in order to provide the sort of assistance and/or representation that you believe is needed by:
persons involved in eligibility or admissibility interviews?
refugee claimants to prepare their case?
refugee claimants in relation to the expedited process?
refugee claimants at their refugee status determination hearing?
refugee claimants in relation to post-determination processes conducted by CIC?
immigrants and refugee claimants in relation to judicial review applications and proceedings?
persons detained under provisions of the Immigration Act in relation to detention reviews?
persons who are the subject of immigration inquiries?
persons pursuing immigration appeals?
11.2 Where do you see the skills of lawyers being most effectively employed? Are there any aspects of the various proceedings affecting immigrants and refugee claimants for which assistance from or representation by lawyers is essential?
11.3 Where do you see the skills of paralegals being most effectively employed? Are there any aspects of the various processes for which paralegals can provide effective assistance or representation? In your opinion, are there any circumstances in which paralegals can provide assistance and/or representation more effectively than lawyers?
11.4 What role, if any, do you see being played by persons without legal training with regard to assisting and/or representing immigrants and refugee claimants in the various proceedings in which they are involved?
12. What scope is there within your agency's mandate and tariff structure to pay non-lawyers for services delivered to immigration and refugee clients?
13.[Interviewers should preface this question by indicating that they are about to ask respondents for their views with respect to the quality, effectiveness and utility of service provided by different groups of service providers. Indicate that the same question will be asked with respect to each group of service providers.]Do you have any comments on the work of the following service providers?
Legal aid clinics
Immigration and refugee lawyers in private practice
The Refugee Law Office (if Ontario)
Paid immigration consultants
Paid staff at NGOs
Volunteers at NGOs
14.[The following question is applicable only to the Legal Services Society in British Columbia (LSS).]The Government of British Columbia has recently announced that the Immigration and Refugee Law Clinic operated by LSS is to be closed. What considerations led to that decision?
15. Has your agency considered alternatives to present tariff arrangements for immigration and refugee cases (e.g., block contracts where firms bid on price, franchises where firms bid on the basis of services they will provide)? What has been done in this regard? What is your assessment of the utility of these alternatives?
16. Has your agency considered alternatives to the present way in which lawyers are paid for services in immigration and refugee cases under your current legal aid tariff? For example, if your present tariff is based on an hourly rate subject to a limit on the number of hours that lawyers can bill for specific services (B.C., Alberta, Ontario), have you considered adopting a flat rate tariff for specified services (as in Quebec and Manitoba)? If your tariff is based on flat payments for specific services, has your agency considered modifying the tariff to pay for services on an hourly rate? Why has your agency adopted the particular tariff model it is using, and why has it rejected alternative models?
17. What, in your opinion, are the strengths/weaknesses of different payment models (e.g., flat fees for specified services, hourly rates subject to overall time limits, block contracts [tendered on price] or franchises [tendered on services offered])?
18. What, in your opinion, are the strengths and weaknesses of different service delivery models (e.g., judicare, staff, and mixed)?