COVID-19 and the courts: Nov. 23 update

Today’s roundup for courthouses across Canada

COVID-19 and the courts: Nov. 23 update

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


Provincial Court of Manitoba

Notice - Service of Child Protection Proceedings on Persons in Custody during Pandemic Restrictions
The notice describes the options for how to serve child protection proceedings on in-custody individuals in light of the Code Red restrictions and their impact on visiting rules at correctional centres. The notice contains the contact information of the different correctional centres.

Notice - Circuit Court Sitting Replacement Dates Due to COVID-19
The notice lists the dates to which the suspended circuit court sittings have been administratively adjourned, which are subject to change depending on the public health situation of each community during those dates. The court has been trying to establish virtual dockets, which will be conducted usually via video or telephone from one of the major court centres, for numerous communities.

Practice Direction - Video Appearances for Trials and Preliminary Hearings in the Provincial Court of Manitoba
The practice directive addresses the remote attendance via video of participants at trials, at preliminary hearings or in situations where an inmate will act as a witness, while still ensuring that the hearing process maintains integrity. The trial judge will consider the applications for video accommodation and decide whether the participants will be able to properly see or hear the evidence to be presented.

Notice - COVID-19 - Rescheduling Adult and Youth Out of Custody Matters - Regional Centres
The notice explains the changes in the dates applicable to matters appearing in the regional court centres, including Brandon Court Centre, Thompson Court Centre, The Pas Court Centre, Dauphin Court Centre and Portage la Prairie Court Centre.

Notice - COVID-19 - Rescheduling Adult and Youth Out of Custody Matters
The notice provides the rescheduled dates for adult and youth out-of-custody matters appearing in Winnipeg.

Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba

Practice Direction - Criminal Trials Accused's Remote Appearance by Video Conference
The practice direction examines how the use of video conference can be a viable alternative to adjournment if the accused cannot be present at a trial. It discusses the court’s oversight role over the adjournment of scheduled trials, the court’s exploration into the possibility of making the accused appear via video conference before an adjournment has been made and the premises and presumptions that will inform the court’s approach to this issue. It also goes over the procedure for situations in which the accused cannot be present in court for the entirety of the trial, as well as the factors to be considered in such circumstances.


Ontario Court of Justice

Notice to the Profession and the Public: Criminal Case Management Appearances on or after November 30, 2020
As of Nov. 30, accused individuals should attend their scheduled appearance in criminal case management court by letting their counsel appear on their behalf or by appearing via telephone or video.

COVID-19: Scheduling of Family Matters in the Ontario Court of Justice
The court expects family law matters in Elliot Lake, Kirkland Lake, Red Lake and Sioux Lookout to recommence on Nov. 30. Starting Nov. 30, First Appearance Court or First Court Date before a clerk can no longer be waived at locations where such is available because these appearances will recommence through remote means. Also beginning on Nov. 30, sworn affidavits of service should be filed at all family court locations in Ontario, including for filings sent via e-mail or the Family Submissions Online platform.

Ontario Superior Court of Justice

R. v. Minassian – Public Notice
The court has announced that it is conducting the trial of Alek Minassian, which began on Nov. 10,

wholly via the Zoom platform in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The main Zoom room has been reserved for the trial’s participants, so members of the public, while wearing masks and respecting distancing requirements and other protocols, may observe at 315 Front St. West, Ground Floor, Elm Room B in Toronto.

Notice to the Profession and Public Regarding Jury Trials in Hamilton and Newmarket
The court has suspended new jury selection and new jury trials in Hamilton and in Newmarket until at least Nov. 30. The court will give another update by Nov. 25. Jury trials that are in progress may move forward, depending on the trial judge’s decision.

Court of Appeal for Ontario

Notice Regarding the Scheduling of In-Person and Remote Appeals
Starting Nov. 16 and until further notice, the court has stopped holding in-person appeals. The court is conducting appeals remotely at this time.

Nova Scotia

COVID-19: Update on masking protocol for courthouses
The All Courts Recovery Committee has strongly recommended that court users wear non-medical masks at all times in courtrooms, except individuals who are speaking. Presiding judges, who have the discretion to decide on the use of masks given the specific circumstances of the courtroom, case and parties involved, will relay their directions at the start of the proceedings.


Nunavut Court of Justice

Emergency Closure Order
Effective Nov. 17, the court has suspended all regularly scheduled court operations and scheduled sittings at the courthouse in Iqaluit until Jan. 8, 2021.

Suspension of Operations on Account of COVID-19
The court announced that, further to the suspension of its regular operations in Iqaluit until Jan. 8, 2021, all circuits outside of Iqaluit have been cancelled for the rest of 2020. The court is still open to hear matters remotely. The court continues to hear child welfare and guardianship matters as docketed. A skeletal staff of Court Services will be present onsite to administer hearings.

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