In light of the evolving COVID-19 situation, and building on the experience gained during the pandemic, the Tribunal considers it important to adopt a flexible approach to the form of hearings to be held in the future.
Effective July 4, 2022, all types of hearings (whether in person, virtual by videoconference, file hearing or a combination of these) will be available for individual proceedings. As before, parties to proceedings will have the opportunity to make submissions concerning their preferred type of hearing (i.e., in person or remotely). Parties will be asked to explain their preference (e.g., need for accommodation, financial considerations, etc.). The Tribunal expects all parties to display flexibility vis-à-vis the perspective of others, especially in consideration of the importance of facilitating access to justice.
The Tribunal will consider the preferences of the parties and endeavour to accommodate those preferences, to the extent reasonably possible. Ultimately, the Tribunal retains its discretion to decide on the appropriate type of hearing in each case to provide for a more expeditious or informal process, as the circumstances and considerations of fairness permit.
In the case of hearings held in the Tribunal’s hearing rooms, sanitary and safety measures deemed appropriate by the presiding member and consistent with public health guidance will be applied. These could include requirements with respect to hand sanitizing, social distancing, or wearing of masks.
This practice direction is issued having regard to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, including current public health guidance and the Tribunal’s operational capacity. It will be reviewed periodically, as circumstances warrant it.
July 4, 2022