As you know, during the pandemic, the Tribunal adopted teleconference as the “default” hearing method, and the vast majority of Tribunal hearings were conducted through virtual hearing methods. Only a very limited number of employees worked at the Tribunal’s premises during the pandemic. Currently, the Tribunal’s employees are gradually returning to the office in a hybrid model.
In that context, and in response to the easing of public health restrictions, the Tribunal has gathered feedback from stakeholders and adjudicators about the future of post-pandemic hearings. Many stakeholders expressed an interest in having a choice of hearing format, with greater availability of in-person hearings.
Based on recent feedback from stakeholders, adjudicators and staff, the Tribunal has decided to work towards changing the default hearing method to videoconference as an interim measure, with a gradual increase in the availability of in-person hearings. This was announced at the Stakeholder Event on May 25, 2022. The anticipated launch timeline for this change is the autumn of 2022.
To implement this change, the WSIAT will develop new policies and procedures for determining the appropriate hearing format, including when an in-person hearing is appropriate. Of course, this will happen in tandem with continued monitoring of public health guidance to keep WSIAT staff, adjudicators, and stakeholders safe.
The WSIAT will keep stakeholders informed about any procedural changes planned for the longer term. As always, we are committed to providing fair hearings and reasoned decisions on a timely basis, while using our resources efficiently to meet the needs of our stakeholders.