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Important Notice: Letter to Stakeholders – WSIAT Covid-19 Update

May 20, 2020

Dear WSIAT Stakeholders,

As you know, in order to support the province-wide effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, the WSIAT has postponed in-person hearings until further notice.

(1) Expectations of representatives during the COVID-19 office closure

The WSIAT remains committed to providing timely access to justice during this challenging time.  Accordingly, our Scheduling Coordinators have been contacting parties with upcoming in-person hearing dates to discuss alternative hearing formats, such as written, teleconference, videoconference, or alternative dispute resolution. It is critical to the WSIAT’s ability to provide excellent service that parties and representatives respond to these inquiries as soon as possible.

It has come to my attention that certain representatives are not responding to communications from the Scheduling Department regarding upcoming hearing dates.  Pursuant to the Law Society of Ontario’s Rules of Professional Conduct, representatives have professional obligations to communicate in a timely and effective manner with their clients and perform all of their functions conscientiously and diligently.  If you have received a telephone message from a Scheduling Coordinator regarding an upcoming scheduled hearing, it is your responsibility to contact them immediately.  Representatives who fail to respond to Tribunal communications will be considered to have breached their professional obligations and may be addressed pursuant to the Tribunal’s Practice Direction, WSIAT Code of Conduct for Representatives.

(2) All scheduled in-person hearings converted to teleconference hearings

Effective June 8, 2020, all scheduled Tribunal in-person hearings will be converted to teleconference hearings, unless the Manager, Scheduling Administration is satisfied an alternative hearing format is appropriate.  An objection to the hearing format will not be accepted as a basis for an adjournment.  Objections to the hearing format will be addressed by the Vice-Chair or Panel at the teleconference hearing.  Parties should be prepared to proceed with the teleconference in the event their request for an alternative format is denied by the Vice-Chair or Panel.

The Tribunal is also exploring videoconference as an alternative hearing method.  Parties should advise the Tribunal if they have the technological capability to participate in a videoconference hearing. 

Please see the attached WSIAT Practice Guidelines for addressing objections to alternative hearing formats. 

(3) Regional hearings scheduled for June 2020

Given the continuing uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation, regional hearings scheduled for June 2020 will not be held in person.  These hearings will be converted to teleconference hearings as described above. 

If you have an upcoming in-person hearing and have not yet received a call from the Scheduling Department, please contact the WSIAT Call Centre to discuss alternative hearing formats. 

In order to continue to offer hearings to parties in a timely fashion, the WSIAT requires the support and cooperation of the Stakeholder community.

Thank you for your cooperation and patience as we navigate these extraordinary circumstances.

Yours truly,

Rosemarie McCutcheon
Tribunal Chair