COVID-19 and the courts: Sept. 13, 2021 update

This week's roundup for courts across Canada

COVID-19 and the courts: Sept. 13, 2021 update
Canadian courts have adopted measures to limit COVID-19 transmission

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.

Federal

Supreme Court of Canada

The court has plans to hear two appeals and meet with Quebecers in a visit to Quebec City from Sept. 12 to 16, 2022. Chief Justice of Canada Richard Wagner said in a statement that the visit maintains the newly established tradition of the court sitting outside of Ottawa and increases awareness of how various courts in Quebec function.

“This initiative is part of the Court’s continued commitment to increasing access to justice and providing opportunities for members of the public to learn more about their justice system and, in particular, to see how the Court’s decisions affect everyone’s lives,” Wagner said in a news release.

“The Supreme Court’s presence in Québec City will contribute not only to building ties with the public, but also to demystifying the justice system,” said Manon Savard, Quebec’s chief justice, in the release.

The highest court is working with Quebec’s Court of Appeal, Superior Court and the Court of Québec in preparation for the visit, during which it will participate in activities allowing it to interact with the general public, numerous communities, the legal community and students. The Quebec City visit will mark the second time that the court has sat outside of Ottawa, the first being in Winnipeg in 2019.

British Columbia

Provincial Court of British Columbia

Update: Face Masks Still Required in British Columbia Courthouses
Those attending B.C. courthouses still need to wear a face mask, including in the courts’ entrances, lobbies, waiting areas, registries, hallways, stairways, restrooms and elevators, subject to exceptions provided in the Sept. 2 order of the provincial health officer. Sheriffs will offer face masks to individuals without face coverings who are entering the courthouse.

NP 22: In-Person Proceedings and Attendance During COVID-19: Health and Safety Protocols
The notice dated Sept. 1 discussed the health and safety protocols in place for those attending in-person proceedings amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Judicial officers, including judges, judicial justices and judicial case managers, may direct more detailed precautions based on the specific circumstances. The notice covered face masks, cleaning and sanitation, courtroom layout, instances of symptomatic participants, communication between counsel and parties, witnesses, oaths or affirmations, documents, exhibits and authorities.

Manitoba

Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba

Notice - COVID-19 Update

The notice on Sept. 1 discussed matters such as maintenance enforcement dockets, child protection dockets, the Masters’ Civil and Family Uncontested List, bankruptcy dockets, contested motions, the uncontested passing of accounts and hearings for directions, and matters involving viva voce evidence.

Ontario

Ontario Superior Court of Justice

Latest Announcements About Criminal Proceedings in the OCJ
On Sept. 3, the court announced that it is establishing the Judge-led Intensive Case Management Court, a new case management court, in every base court location across Ontario in order to deal with the COVID-19-related backlog of cases. This new case management court will supplement and assist the permanent or regular case management courts already operating at each court location and will be referred cases on the basis of their age, with older cases being prioritized.

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