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COVID-19 and the courts: Nov. 30 update

Today’s roundup for courthouses across Canada

COVID-19 and the courts: Nov. 30 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.

British Columbia

Announcement: Face Masks Required in British Columbia Courthouses
Court users in B.C. should wear face masks or face coverings, in such a way that covers the nose and mouth, including in entrances, lobbies, waiting areas, registries, hallways, stairways, restrooms and elevators. The presiding judge, justice, master or registrar may direct otherwise in the courtrooms. Sheriffs will give face coverings for people who don’t have any. This requirement is subject to exceptions, including children who are younger than twelve years old, individuals who cannot wear face coverings due to certain conditions or impairments and people who cannot put on or remove a face covering with another’s assistance. Court users should also be aware of and should cooperate with the applicable health and safety protocols.

Court of Appeal for British Columbia

Updated Notice to the Public Regarding Access to Court Proceedings During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The notice details the court’s steps to ensure that members of the public and accredited media can observe court proceedings. It also contains information on access to video conference and teleconference proceedings, the policy on using electronic devices in courtrooms, media access to digital audio recordings and access to court records.

Alberta

Provincial Court of Alberta

Temporary Closure: Edmonton Civil Counters
The Edmonton Law Courts have suspended in-person service at the civil counters. Non-urgent filing of documents may be conducted via the drop boxes at the courts’ entrances. Parties may call the Civil Division for urgent filings, inquiries and scheduling issues.

Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta

Edmonton Review Office - Partial Closure
The Edmonton Review Office will be closed for administrative inquiries, including in-person, telephone or email inquiries and new bookings, effective immediately and until Dec. 7. Previously scheduled hearings with the Edmonton Review Officer will move forward at this time.

Jury Selection - COVID-19 Exemptions
The notice lists the exemptions to the requirement to attend jury selection, which include health concerns that make a person more vulnerable to COVID-19 and the fact that one lives with or provides care to someone with such health concerns.

Manitoba

Provincial Court of Manitoba

Notice - COVID -19 - Suspension and Restriction of Hearings - Legal Aid Administrative Court
The Legal Aid Administrative Court on Dec. 8 at 9:30 a.m. in courtroom 402 has been cancelled with respect to out of custody matters, which will be administratively adjourned to Jan. 12, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. in courtroom 402. This docket will continue to sit for in custody matters.

Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba

Practice Direction - Remote and Off Site Civil Trials
It will be presumed that a trial will move forward as scheduled through an in-person proceeding at the Law Courts Complex if the court notice does not otherwise specify. But in cases where the parties have been advised of the trial’s adjournment for COVID-19-related reasons, the parties may proceed through certain options, which are listed in the practice direction.

Ontario

Ontario Court of Justice

Update – Additional Court Locations Commencing Virtual Criminal Case Management Appearances in October and November 2020
Virtual criminal case management courts will commence in Armstrong, Fort Hope (Eabametoong), Geraldton, Lansdowne House (Neskantaga), Longlac, Manitouwadge, Marathon, Nipigon, Ogoki Post, Renfrew, Schreiber, Summer Beaver (Nibinamik) and Webequie on Nov. 30; in Killaloe and Wawa on Dec. 7; and in Espanola on Dec. 14.

Order pursuant to s. 85 of the POA
The Ontario Court of Justice’s chief justice issued an order dated Nov. 25 under s. 85 of the Provincial Offences Act, which extends most timelines under the Act until Feb. 26, 2021.

Ontario Superior Court of Justice

Notice to the Profession and Public Regarding Court Proceedings
Effective Nov. 23 and until at least Jan. 4, 2021, the court will not commence new jury selections in court locations that are not in a Green Zone as defined by the provincial government. The court will provide an update on Dec. 29. Jury trials that are in progress may move forward depending on the trial judge’s discretion. The notice also provides information regarding the lockdown regions of Toronto and Peel and regarding the use of virtual proceedings.

Nova Scotia

Provincial Court of Nova Scotia and Youth Justice Court

COVID-19: Update on fine payments
The court is not providing regular front counter services during the pandemic. Persons who want to pay summary offence tickets or other court fines may pay online, for which they will need a debit card or credit card and their ticket number to accomplish the online payment. The court has extended payment deadlines by 90 days more from the original due date stated on the ticket for persons who need more time to pay summary offence tickets.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador

Revised COVID-19 court scheduling: St. John’s Provincial Court: Traffic Court and Contraventions Act cases
Traffic Court matters, including Contraventions Act cases, scheduled during December in St. John’s will not move forward at this time. Parties who have scheduled cases will receive a written notification of the new court date or may check the court’s website for the new date.

Northwest Territories

Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories

Supreme Court Directive on COVID-19
The directive states that the court list will next be called on Mar. 5, 2021, with counsel and parties urged to appear via phone.

Court of Appeal for the Northwest Territories

Update on Nov. 20
The court’s pending list will next be called on Mar. 5. The court encourages counsel and parties to appear by phone. The court’s next sittings are scheduled to take place on Jan. 19, 2021 and will be conducted via videoconference.

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