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LAO Lawyers' March 2019 Newsletter

March 28, 2019


MARCH 2019

In this issue:

  • LAO Bargaining Unit Elections - Be sure you are a member so you can run and vote
  • Robes - Submit your Claim - Reminder
  • SLAF Working Group Survey - Please complete the survey
  • Volunteers Needed: LSO Bencher Election Survey
  • Employment Taxes Deducted from the $500 Equity Settlement - update
  • Job Trading
  • Mental Health Benefit - update
  • Health and Safety update
  • The Society’s website is new and improved
  • LAO Inclusion and Diversity Committee
  • New Toronto Courthouse Consultations
  • Link to the Memorandum of Settlement
  • Link to the Index/Cheat Sheet to the Collective Agreement



Dana -- 

As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or just need our help, do not hesitate to contact us from your personal e-mail address at [email protected].

If you are not already an official union member, make sure that you fill out your membership application. A link to the application form is available here.

We are also active on social media. Find us on facebook and twitter @lao_lawyers.

You can also visit us at our website: (You must be a member of the Society to log in.)

LAO Lawyers Interim Local Committee (ILC)


Elections will be coming soon - Be sure you are a member!

Our bargaining unit of the LAO Lawyers will soon be having elections for the various elected positions within our unit (Local Vice President, Unit Directors, then Delegates). More information on this will be coming soon but in the meantime please be sure that you become a member if you are not one already. In order to become a member you must complete this form and return it to Laura Langmaid at [email protected]. You can confirm if you are one already by going to the members portal tab on then attempting to log in. Note that membership has its perks and that in order to run or vote in the elections you must be a member. Please also check to ensure that your work address is current. If it is not, please notify us at [email protected] so that we can have it updated. This will be important in the upcoming elections.


Robes One-Time Payment - Making Your Claim

LAO has already approved this stipend for a great many persons in our bargaining unit. If your claim has been approved, you should have received an email from LAO noting this and directing you on how to enter the claim for payment. If you are having any difficulties and need our assistance please let us know.

If you have not yet made a claim and believe you should be entitled to this payment you should do so as soon as possible. Please submit your request for approval for your claim to your Director General and to your direct manager. LAO has requested their DGs to compile the lists to whom this payment applies by March 1, 2019. That date was a soft-deadline and requests and claims can still be made.

Remember that this is a one-time payment meant to offset the cost of robes for those who are required to wear them for their position at work for LAO. If your manager deems that robes are required for your position you are entitled to this one-time payout of $350. You do not need to purchase new robes or show proof of purchase. (See Article 29.2)

SLAF Working Group - Survey

Thank you to those who have taken the time to complete our survey. If you have not done so, we are still looking for your input! Some time ago, LAO closed the CLSC and distributed the SLAF calls to the districts. Each district seems to have developed their own manner of assigning and completing these calls. We want to know how your work has been affected by these changes. Please fill out our survey here if you have not already done so:


Volunteers Needed: LSO Bencher Election Survey

Law Society Bencher Elections are coming up. We want to know more about the candidates and how their stances will affect our clients and the services we provide.

We are forming a working group to design a survey that will be distributed to the candidates.

If you are interested in joining or have any questions, please e-mail us from your personal address, on your own time at [email protected]


Employment Taxes Deducted by LAO on Pay Equity Settlement - Update

You should have received a $500.00 lump sum as part of the settlement for the pay equity complaints.You may note that standard salary deductions were applied to the $500.00 lump sum. We did not believe that the deductions should have applied to this payout as it was a settlement payout and not salary.

LAO, at our request, looked into this deduction and now agrees with us that the deductions were improperly applied. LAO is working on remedying this error. Additional details will be forthcoming shortly on our reimbursement of the deductions.

Please note that some concerns have been raised regarding this affecting your most recent T4. The T4 recently provided is for the 2018 tax year and the payout was in 2019. Therefore the T4s would not need to be updated if the payment should not have been characterized as income and taxed accordingly.

If you believe that there was an error in your compensation or if you have any questions, please contact us at [email protected] or contact LAO payroll.


Job Trading

Interested in trying out another office or Society-represented position? Permanent Society-represented lawyers can apply to temporarily trade positions with another Society-represented lawyer. (Article 25)

While we are still working out the process, there is at least one Society-represented lawyer who has expressed interest in a job trade. This lawyer practices criminal law as Duty Counsel out of a downtown Toronto courthouse. They are interested in trading into the Scarborough Criminal Duty Counsel Office. Would you be interested in trading with them? Contact us if you would like more information!

If you would like to propose another job trade (more or less specific than the above), please let us know by emailing us at [email protected]. Ultimately any job trade must be approved by LAO, the Society and the managers in the applicable offices. (For more information, see Article 25.)

Job trades should be for between 6 and 24 months long. Relocation expenses are not covered by LAO for job trades.


MH Benefit - Update

LAO has negotiated the following language with Sunlife regarding our increased mental health coverage:

A $500 benefit maximum for licensed social workers, licensed psychotherapists, or psychotherapists who are active members of a provincial association approved by Sun Life.” LAO has informed us that this would include any program that supports good mental health  so long as it is conducted by a licensed professional as listed above. The insurer looks to whether the program is billed to a licensee.”

We have advised LAO that this language is not in accordance with our understanding of the benefit that we negotiated. We are awaiting a response from LAO. We will provide further information as available. If you have any thoughts or requests regarding this benefit please contact us as soon as possible at [email protected]


Health and Safety - Update

Your Elected Representatives, Ray Warman, Dana Fisher, and Morgan Koch completed Level 2 Joint Health and Safety Committee certification. This program was completed with LAO management’s Health and Safety Project Team. Ray Warman is also our Society Representative on the LAO Steering Committee for Health and Safety.

Under our Collective Agreement LAO and the Society are to form a Joint Provincial Health and Safety Committee. The first meeting of this committee is happening this month. On the agenda is the establishment of the Terms of Reference for the Committee.

Please report any health and safety risks, hazards or incidents to your supervisor immediately. This is an obligation of all workers under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act. We ask that you also please advise us at [email protected]  Most recently, LAO, in collaboration with your health and safety elected representatives, has created an updated incident reporting form and process. This will be available shortly. We encourage you to use it as it will help to bring issues to the Joint Health and Safety Committee for review and to ensure proper steps are taken to address health and safety risks, hazards and to prevent future incidents.

The health and safety of our membership is of vital importance to the Society. Chris Graham, Executive Vice President for the Society, has also been working with us to address our health and safety concerns.

If you have any questions or concerns about health and safety, about work refusals and our rights under the Occupational Health and Safety Act or about whether or not to submit a hazard or incident reporting form, please contact us at [email protected].


The Society’s Website is New and Improved - access archived newsletters and communications and update your information

The Society has updated its website and our page can be found at:

Log into our webpage and you will find archived copies of newsletters and communications, membership application forms and the LAO Welcome Handbook.

Under the member’s portal you can check to ensure that your work address is correct and update your personal contact information. If your work address is incorrect please notify us immediately:[email protected]. This will be important for the upcoming Unit Director elections.

LAO Inclusion and Diversity Committee

Kendall Yamagishi is sitting on LAO’s Inclusion and Diversity Committee as our representative of the Society of United Professionals. LAO has announced that they will likely have a position for an Inclusion and Diversity Coordinator. This coordinator position will not be part of our bargaining unit. We suggested that the coordinator would be well-suited to lead the review as outlined in Appendix 5 of the Collective Agreement (Special Programs and Equity Protections). We raised concerns about the representation of equity-seeking individuals at both the employee and management level and suggested that it would be a good exercise to do an equity check amongst management.

The Committee also discussed the possibility of developing a mentorship program. We emphasized the importance of ensuring that equity-seeking employees would be the focus of such a program.

Finally, the Committee discussed various days of significance such as International Women’s Day and how to highlight them on the Source. We emphasized that while these days are important, given our limited resources, it may be best to focus on working conditions and opportunities for equity-seeking employees at LAO.


New Toronto Courthouse Consultations

Kendall Yamagishi attended the most recent consultation meeting for what is planned to become the “bail hub” at 2201 Finch Avenue West. Garrett Zehr has been attending regularly as our representative for the Society. Representatives from LAO and the Ministry of the Attorney General were also present.

We strongly expressed safety concerns about the decision to build the out-of-custody interview rooms without panic buttons and frosted glass on the windows. LAO did not strongly push back on the issue of the frosted glass. Due to the potential safety risks that could arise, we will be raising this issue further with LAO.

The current plan is to have 8 filing cabinets for the duty counsel office. LAO said that they thought we would only need 2. According to LAO, our work will be paperless because of the electronic worksheets. We strongly disagreed, citing difficulties with the electronic worksheets as expressed by our members and the need to store physical documents such as affidavits, medical letters, and other documents.

Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns regarding the New Toronto Courthouse and/or the Bail Hub.


Link to the Memorandum of Settlement

The Memorandum of Settlement can be found here.  The Collective Agreement is still proceeding through the editing process and will hopefully be signed in the near future.  At that time we will provide a link to the signed Collective Agreement.


Link to the Index/Cheat Sheet for the Collective Agreement

We have created an Index/Cheat Sheet to assist you in maneuvering the Collective Agreement. It can be found here.

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