COVID-19 and the courts: June 29 update

Today’s update for courthouses across Canada

COVID-19 and the courts: June 29 update

Courts across Canada are taking extraordinary measures to control the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19. Below is a roundup of actions courts are taking across the country.

British Columbia

Provincial Court of British Columbia

Announcement - Update on Resuming Traffic Court in Some Locations
The court is recommencing scheduling traffic hearings in certain locations and has listed alternate hearing locations and times to ensure that participants remain safe and physically distant. The court asks that only the involved counsel, parties, witnesses and accredited media appear at these hearings. These participants should review the applicable health and safety protocols before attending.

Court of Appeal for British Columbia

Updated notice to the public - Service and filing deadlines further suspended from 29 June to 13 July 2020
The court is extending the suspension of service and filing deadlines to July 13. Other measures relating to document filings, video-conference appeals and teleconference chambers applications provided in previous notices remain the same.


Provincial Court of Alberta

Case management offices (CMO) out of custody docket protocol
Effective June 29, counsel and self-represented litigants involved in case management office matters or docket court matters scheduled on any date after July 3 may progress these matters via remote appearances. At CMO locations, in-person attendance is banned, while at court locations without CMO services, in-person attendance is allowed only if one has obtained prior approval from the court.

Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta

Electronic without notice desk applications - Family matters
The court has begun processing electronic without notice applications in family matters, depending on urgency. For non-urgent matters, the court will follow the same process used for without-notice desk applications in Justice Chambers. For urgent matters, the applicant may attend regular Family Chambers proceedings remotely via WebEx. Beyond regular sittings, one can apply to the Emergency Duty Justice assigned for the day.

Remote Half Day Civil, Masters and Family Special Chambers - Province-wide
Effective June 24, the court has started scheduling half-day Chambers applications in Edmonton, Calgary, and Regional locations remotely through WebEx video and audio. The notice addresses Civil Special Chambers applications and Special Family Chambers applications in Edmonton and Calgary and Regional Special Chambers in Red Deer, Lethbridge and Circuit Point locations, as well as booking procedures, required materials and filing deadlines across the province.


Provincial Court of Manitoba

Notice - COVID-19 suspension and re-opening of additional courts
The court is recommencing additional court sittings in Peguis First Nation, Pine Falls, Virden, Rossburn and Russell. The courts are still closed to the general public, so only individuals required for proceedings can attend. These visitors should observe health and safety protocols.

Notice - Child Protection Hearings
For July, child protection dockets will continue to sit in the court centers, except for those set in Steinbach, Beausejour, Pine Falls and Peguis First Nation, which will be held in those communities.

Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba

Notice - Scheduling Protocols for family division motions and case conferences via teleconference or video conference
Effective immediately, if the parties for a case conference are both represented by counsel, these lawyers have the responsibility to arrange the case conference, which will be conducted via teleconference or videoconference. If at least one party is self-represented, the assistant of the case conference judge will make the arrangements. The notice then explains the protocols applicable to scheduling Family Division motions and case conferences via teleconference or videoconference.

Court of Appeal of Manitoba

Notice - Resumption of in-person appeal hearings and chambers motions
For the Fall Session, which starts on Aug. 24, the court will resume in-person appeal hearings in Courtroom 330 and in-person chambers motions in Courtroom 130, provided that the public health situation stays stable. Public safety measures will still be applied. The general public cannot visit the courthouse, but the press and media can attend.


Ontario Superior Court of Justice

Notice to the Profession, Litigants, Accused, Media and Members of the Public
The court is taking certain steps toward its goal of resuming certain in-court hearings at some court locations. The court is adopting a phased approach, with 56 courtrooms available for use by July 6. The notice also addresses the Ministry of the Attorney General’s recovery efforts and the continued adjournment of criminal matters, except if the court has ordered or directed otherwise.

Court of Appeal for Ontario

Amended Practice Direction Concerning Manner of Service, Inmate Appeal Books, and Orders for Release of Electronic Exhibits in Criminal Matters Given the Exceptional and Evolving Circumstances Concerning COVID-19
If the appellant is the Crown, the Crown does not need to personally serve the Notice of Appeal. The notice details the possible ways for the Crown to effect service. As long as service is effected within the prescribed period, the court will accept for filing a Crown Notice of Appeal even if it has been filed outside the prescribed period, provided that it is filed within a reasonable time after service. If the appellant is the accused, service and filing may be done via electronic filing or by mailing the Notice of Appeal to the court within the prescribed time. This rule applies to non-inmate appeals and appeals that are not under Part XX.1 of the Criminal Code.

Practice Direction Concerning the Reinstatement of Times Prescribed in Criminal Proceedings in the Court of Appeal for Ontario
Effective July 16, unless otherwise directed or approved by the court, the regular prescribed times apply to all criminal appeals. The notice discusses requests for further extensions of time and the electronic conduct of proceedings.

Practice Direction Concerning the Reinstatement of Times Prescribed in Civil Proceedings in the Court of Appeal for Ontario
Effective July 16, the times prescribed to take any step in any civil proceeding in the court have been reinstated. The notice explains requests for further extensions, the electronic conduct of proceedings and the case management of urgent or time-sensitive family law appeals.

Practice Direction Concerning the Reinstatement of Times Prescribed in Proceedings Arising Under the Provincial Offences Act in the Court of Appeal for Ontario
Effective July 16, the times prescribed to take any step in any Provincial Offences Act proceeding in the court have been reinstated. The notice also covers requests for further extensions of time and the electronic conduct of proceedings.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Courts release Recovery Plan for expansion of services during the pandemic
The Recovery Plan of the Nova Scotia courts includes health and safety strategies and protocols that have been newly implemented since certain in-person hearings recommenced on June 1. Consultants from Occupational Health and Safety and the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education provided support, and the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health reviewed and endorsed the plan. The Court Recovery Committee is conducting a phased assessment of the province’s courthouses and courtrooms to determine further changes needed to safely hold in-person hearings. The plan also covers remote court proceedings via telephone, video, Skype for Business and other platforms.

Provincial Court of Nova Scotia and Youth Justice Court

Update on fines and default convictions
Individuals cannot pay fines or address their summary offence matters through in-person court visits. They have 90 days from the due date stated on their summary offence tickets to pay the fines. They may opt to pay online.

Nova Scotia Court of Appeal

Court of Appeal introduces new COVID-19 practice directive
The practice directive, which explains how hearings will be conducted during the pandemic, tackles matters such as etiquette and civility applicable to remote hearings, instructions for the electronic filing of documents and media access.

Prince Edward Island

Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island

COVID-19 hearing directives
The document details the protocols in place for those visiting the court and explains the rules for the number of individuals allowed inside a specific courtroom, physical distancing, masks and required materials and copies of documents.


Territorial Court of Yukon

Notice to the profession and the public
The court will be incrementally reopening its operations. Starting July 6, the court will recommence hearing matters in-person in Whitehorse, provided that they can occur safely and in accordance with the applicable protocols.

Supreme Court of Yukon

Notice to public and to profession
Beginning July 6, the court will resume hearing in-person proceedings as long as they ensure the safety of participants and respect protocols, including for courtroom entry and screening, cleaning and sanitation, and physical distancing.

Northwest Territories

Territorial Court of the Northwest Territories

Changes to Territorial Court sittings and matters before Justices of the Peace due to COVID-19
The most recent updates replace the directives previously issued on Apr. 28. The notice discusses the rules for access to the courtroom, among other matters.


Nunavut Court of Justice

Dockets are now online again
The court dockets are once again being published online, updated at around 8:00 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. every day.

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