By-laws and protocols
Association of Legal Aid Plans of Canada By‑Laws
These by-laws relate to the conduct and management of the affairs of the Association of Legal Aid Plans of Canada.
The Association of Legal Aid Plans of Canada (ALAP) is a voice for Canada’s Legal Aid Plans, and a national expert on legal aid and access to justice issues.
The objectives of the Association are as follows:
- To undertake, support and facilitate research concerning access to justice issues;
- To improve public awareness of access to justice issues; and
- To undertake such activities, on its own or with others, as may be in the interest of access to justice in Canada.
CEO: is defined as a Provincial or Territorial legal aid Plan’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), President or Executive Director (or the holder of a similar title if its meaning is interchangeable with that of CEO), or, in the event that the CEO is unavailable, as the designate of the CEO.
Designate: is defined as any official of a Provincial or Territorial legal aid Plan designated by the CEO of that Plan to act as the representative of the CEO for any purpose related to the business of the Association.
Plan: is defined as a Provincial or Territorial legal aid Plan.
Quorum: is defined, for purposes of Association meetings, as a majority of member Plans whether participating in person or electronically.
1. Official languages
The official languages of the Association are English and French, and all official documents will be made available in both languages.
The principal legal aid program in each Province and Territory is entitled to membership in the Association. Membership is limited to one Plan per Province or Territory and will be open only to those Provinces and Territories that maintain a recognized Legal Aid Plan which has as its major objective the provision of legal aid services to those who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. In order to maintain membership and voting privileges, a Provincial or Territorial Plan must pay any assessments levied against it that are approved by the Association, which would include the cost of maintaining support to the Chair, the Executive Committee, any additional committees, undertakings or projects established or approved by the Association, or any other reasonable expense associated with the organization. A Provincial or Territorial Plan’s continued membership in the Association would be subject to review if any assessment is in arrears for two years or more. A Provincial or Territorial Plan’s membership or voting privileges can be suspended by a vote requiring the support of nine or more Plan CEOs, or their designates.
Each Provincial or Territorial Plan is entitled to one vote at meetings of the Association. Votes to be cast will be by the Provincial or Territorial CEOs or by any other official of the Provincial or Territorial Plan specifically designated for that purpose. All resolutions, unless otherwise specified, will be by simple majority. Voting by proxy and electronic voting are recognized as acceptable voting methods.
The Association will meet on an annual basis (Annual Meeting) but may meet more often (“Special Meetings”) if a simple majority of Plan CEOs deems it necessary. The Executive Committee will normally have a minimum of one in‑person meeting in the Fall, following the Annual Meeting, and an in‑person or teleconference meeting in the Spring, in advance of the Annual Meeting.
Plans may generally establish their own optimal level of participation at Annual Meetings, although the Executive Committee may set, from time to time, the maximum number of representatives from each Plan. Special projects of the Association, important issues, or presentation of committee reports may require additional attendance as considered appropriate.
Special meetings, particularly if the agenda is brief, may be conducted by teleconference.
Quorum must be established at meetings and is defined as a majority of member Plans.
Each Plan will be responsible for the cost of travel and related expenses for attending Annual Meetings. The CEOs may establish a budget for travel or other costs associated with the work of the Chair, Executive Committee or any other Committee established by the Association.
5. Finances and assessments
An annual budget for the Association shall be prepared by the Treasurer and submitted to the Plan CEOs for approval at the Annual Meeting.
The fiscal year of the Association shall be determined by the Plan CEOs.
The Association may assess the costs of maintaining support to the Chair, the Executive Committee or any other Committee, undertaking or project of the organization against each member Plan at the Annual Meeting, based upon the annual Budget approved by the Plan CEOs for their approval. Each Plan’s assessment will be based upon a percentage of its total operating cost for the preceding year to the total cost of all Provincial and Territorial Plans. For the purposes of determining cost any and all supplementary funding that may have been approved for the preceding year will be included.
The Chair may bring forward such audit resolutions as may be necessary.
6. Association Chair
The Association will maintain the position of Chair. Provision may be made in the annual budget, if deemed necessary, to support the Chair in conducting the Association’s business.
The person elected as Chair will maintain that position for a three (3) year term, renewable for another three (3) year term.
The election of the Chair will take place at the conclusion of the Annual Meeting.
7. Executive committee
The Association shall establish, by election at the conclusion of the Annual Meeting, an Executive Committee consisting of up to six Provincial or Territorial CEOs including the Chair. The composition of the Committee may vary but should ideally include one CEO from Quebec, one CEO from Ontario, one CEO from the Western Provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba), one CEO from the Atlantic Provinces (New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador) and one CEO from the Territories (Yukon, Nunavut and Northwest Territory).
The Members of the Executive Committee shall hold office for a three (3) year term and any CEO elected as a Member of the Executive Committee can have his/her term extended for two additional three (3) year terms. As the Association has determined that it is desirable to have representation from Ontario and Quebec on the Executive Committee, an exception to the limit of three (3) three‑year terms exists where the CEO from either Ontario or Quebec has served a full three terms as a member of the Executive Committee and continues to hold the position of CEO of their respective Plan.
8. Other committees
The Executive Committee may recommend to the Association the establishment of other Committees, including standing committees and special committees as it deems necessary and appropriate. When establishing ad hoc or standing committees, the Provincial/Territorial Plan representatives shall keep in mind the desirability of maintaining a reasonable geographic balance of representatives. Committees may conduct meetings by teleconference as desired.
The Association shall appoint a Treasurer. The Treasurer is responsible for:
- Having charge of the finances of the Association, and carrying on its general banking business;
- Preparing an annual budget for approval at the Annual Meeting;
- Maintaining records of the Association’s assets, liabilities, receipts and disbursements, and providing financial reports; and
- Performing such other duties as may be prescribed by the Association from time to time.
The Association may appoint other officers as it deems necessary, including vice‑chair and secretary.
Officers shall have such authority and shall perform such duties as are set out in the by‑laws or as the Association may prescribe from time to time. Officers may delegate to others the performance of any or all such duties. The same person may hold two or more offices. Any officer shall cease to hold office upon resolution of the Association.
10. Public communications and representations
The Association Chair, or his or her designate, shall be the public communications voice of ALAP.
The Chair shall communicate in a manner that is consistent with the policy and protocols adopted by ALAP and its Executive Committee.
Notwithstanding the above, a member Plan may disassociate itself in whole or in part from any public ALAP communication.
11. Amendments to the by‑laws
The by‑laws of the Association may be enacted, repealed or amended (“amended”) at the Annual Meeting or at a Special Meeting of the Association by a two‑thirds (2/3) majority of Member Plans, provided that a minimum of sixty (60) days’ notice of the proposed amendment has been provided. Consistent with By‑lawnbsp;3 of the Association, Member Plans may vote on amending the by‑laws in person or by electronic means, and proxy voting on amending the by‑laws is permissible.
Adopted ALAP AGM
ALAP Communications Protocol
In communicating to the public, ALAP will follow these guiding principles:
Communications with the public are made to support/improve public awareness of access to justice issues, and to expand the public dialogue on access to justice issues.
Role and Responsibilities of the Chair
The Chair of ALAP, or his or her designate, is the public communications voice of ALAP.
The Chair, or his or her designate, shall prepare an annual Communications Strategy. The annual strategy is to be approved at the annual general meeting or, if further work is required following the annual general meeting, by the Executive as soon as practical thereafter.
The Chair shall communicate in a manner that is consistent with policy and protocols adopted by ALAP and its Executive, including the ALAP Communications Protocol and the approved Communications Strategy for that year.
Provincial or Territorial CEOs may bring matters that they consider appropriate for public communication or input to the attention of the Chair. A public affairs or communications committee may also be established for this purpose.
CEOs of member Plans will be polled by the Chair (either at a scheduled meeting of the Association, or by special teleconference, or by e‑mail) regarding proposed public communications. Approval for communications must be given by at least two‑thirds of Provincial or Territorial CEOs.
Public communications by ALAP will follow the requirements of the ALAP Official Languages Protocol.
Disassociation From Public ALAP Communications
A dissenting member Plan may disassociate itself in whole or in part from any public ALAP communication, and such dissent, and reasons for dissent if provided, shall be included by the Chair in any ALAP comment or press release.
Adopted ALAP AGM
ALAP Official Languages Protocol
The official languages of ALAP are English and French.
ALAP is committed to the principles of linguistic equality set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Official Languages Act. Additionally, ALAP respects the legislation and regulations binding individual member Plans in respect of the use of both English and French.
Communications with the Public and Visual Identity
Members of the public may communicate with ALAP in either English or French and have the right to be served in the official language of their choice. As a national association, ALAP is committed to ensuring that members of the public are able to communicate with and receive information from ALAP in either official language. Correspondence addressed to ALAP in either official language should be answered in that language.
In all visual communications including, but not limited to, logos or other means of identification used on press releases or other public communications, informational materials intended for distribution to the public, websites, business cards or official ALAP letterhead, ALAP should be consistently identified in both official languages.
Documents and Public Websites
Important ALAP documents, including specifically the By‑laws of the Association and any protocols or other policy documents adopted by ALAP, should be formally adopted and available in both official languages. The English and French versions are equally authoritative and in the case of ambiguity should be interpreted in the same way that the courts would interpret bilingual statutes in Canada.
Public releases of information will be made available by ALAP simultaneously in both official languages. This includes all press releases, reports or studies intended for public distribution, informational materials intended for public distribution and website content that is accessible to the public.
Annual Meetings and Presentation of Awards
In light of ALAP’s commitment to linguistic equality, it is a goal of ALAP that representatives of member Plans should be able to communicate and be understood in their official language of choice at the Annual Meeting. To the extent practicable, simultaneous interpretation services should be made available.
If meetings, or portions of meetings, are bilingual, meeting minutes should be prepared in both English and French.
When recognizing recipients of the Legal Aid Award, ALAP will present the award in both languages.
Adopted ALAP AGM
ALAP Legal Aid Award Protocol
The Association has created an Award to recognize significant contributions to the ongoing development and improvement of legal aid anywhere in Canada. This is not necessarily an annual Award, but will be awarded when a suitable recipient has been identified. A suitable recipient may come from within or outside the Association.
At each Annual Meeting of the Association, or at a special meeting of the Association called for this purpose, the granting of a Legal Aid Award may be an Agenda item. Any Provincial or Territorial Legal Aid Plan may nominate an appropriate recipient for the Legal Aid Award and shall provide to the Meeting sufficient background information as to why that Legal Aid Plan has made their nomination. After discussion, a vote shall be taken and each Provincial/Territorial Legal Aid Plan shall be entitled to one vote. In order for the granting of such Legal Aid Award to be approved by the Meeting, the resolution will be by simple majority.
Notification to Recipient
The Chair of the Association, following an Annual Meeting at which a recipient has been chosen, shall notify such recipient that the Association wishes to recognize their contributions to Legal Aid in Canada by inviting the recipient to attend a dinner at the next Annual Meeting of the Association for the purpose of their receiving the Legal Aid Award.
Legal Aid Award Expenses
The Chair of the Association, holding office at the time of the Annual Meeting at which a Legal Aid Award recipient is to be honoured, shall purchase an appropriate gift for the recipient out of such funds as are in the general funds of the Association. The cost of the gift shall not exceed three hundred dollars ($300.00).
Adopted ALAP AGM