January 8, 2021
In late December 2020, the WSIAT launched its refreshed website. The WSIAT has received feedback from stakeholders, some of whom have raised concerns about the removal of the “Decision Search Database.” I am writing to you to clarify the reasons for this particular change to the WSIAT website.
On December 23, 2020, the WSIAT posted a website announcement entitled “Welcome to the WSIAT’s Refreshed Website.” As noted in that announcement, the WSIAT website was recently updated in order to be accessible and compliant with the standard required by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA). Unfortunately, there were considerable challenges in making the “Decision Search” function compliant with the AODA standard; therefore, it was necessary to remove the search function at this time. Specifically, compliance with the AODA standard would have required the individual formatting of the pdf versions of the Tribunal’s over 80,000 decisions. The Tribunal simply did not have the resources necessary to complete this labour-intensive endeavour by January 1, 2021.
Prior to the website announcement, the WSIAT also held an online Stakeholder Information Session on December 4, 2020, which included updates on various topics. At that session, Tribunal General Counsel, Michelle Alton, delivered a presentation explaining the changes to the website, and Jon de Groot, Manager of Appeal Services, provided a demonstration of the new website. Emily Sinclair, Librarian, also gave a presentation on how the Ontario Workplace Tribunals Library (OWTL) may assist parties and representatives with research. At the Stakeholder Information Session, we received questions about the availability of the “Decision Search” function on the website. In addition to the AODA compliance issues described above, I further noted that Google Analytics data obtained by the WSIAT showed that the “Decision Search” function represented less than 1% of the hits on the WSIAT website.
Please be assured, however, that the WSIAT is exploring options for bringing the decision keyword search back to the website in 2021. We are monitoring the feedback on the use of the Tribunal’s “Decision Search” function to inform future planning for the WSIAT website.
Tribunal decisions continue to be freely available on CanLII (https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onwsiat). The OWTL will be offering research training in 2021, including how to efficiently search for decisions using CanLII.
In addition, requests for assistance with research and CanLII searches may also be made by emailing the OWTL at email@example.com.
Thank you very much to those of you who have provided feedback about the changes to the WSIAT website. Please stay tuned to our website for more information in 2021.