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Changes to Scheduling of Toronto and Hamilton Hearing Locations

The Tribunal conducts hearings in 10 regional centers including Hamilton. The Tribunal will continue to hold hearings in Hamilton but parties will now have their hearings scheduled in either Hamilton or Toronto.  This method of scheduling is already currently taking place on a limited basis. The selection of Toronto or Hamilton as the hearing location will be made at the time appeals are forwarded to the Scheduling Department from the Office of the Vice Chair Registrar and the Tribunal Counsel Office.

The Tribunal has a fixed number of adjudicators and resources needed to support the hearings in the 10 regional centers. Parties who have had their hearings booked in Hamilton are a reasonable distance from Toronto. This provides the added option for parties to come to Toronto for their hearings. The availability of hearings in either Hamilton or Toronto gives the Tribunal an opportunity to schedule hearings in a timely manner.  The parties in other locations throughout the province are a significant distance from Toronto. The parties therefore do not have the option of coming to Toronto for hearings.

The Tribunal is focused on reducing the wait time for hearings.  By providing two hearing locations, we expect to be able to process cases more smoothly and with shorter wait times for appellants.  Parties, including representatives and employers, can anticipate a mix of both Toronto and Hamilton hearing locations. The primary criteria for the selection of the hearing location will be the availability of the next hearing date that can be offered to parties. The Tribunal cannot simply schedule a hearing date in Hamilton based on a preference for that location.  In the past, parties have advised the Tribunal that they have a preference for Hamilton and asked that the appeal be put on hold until a hearing spot became available in Hamilton. In many instances, representatives advised that they were willing to wait 6 months or more for a hearing time slot in Hamilton.  At the same time, the Tribunal had ample room on the Toronto schedule and could have accommodated further hearings with much shorter wait times.

If a party rejects a hearing date proposed for Toronto and requests a Hamilton hearing location, the party must make the request in writing and provide reasons for the request. The written request should be forwarded to the Appeals Administrator and the letter should be copied to all participants in the appeal.  The reasons for the change of location request would have to be significant such as a serious health issue.  The Tribunal may request further documentation regarding the request.

If it is possible, the Tribunal will try to accommodate parties who are commuting from the Hamilton area when their hearings are scheduled in Toronto such as by setting up afternoon start times for half day hearings.

Posted on: April 19, 2011