June 16, 2020
Our WSIAT team appreciated the opportunity to meet with stakeholder groups during the week of June 1st. The WSIAT is committed to providing clear communication with stakeholders in response to the rapidly changing circumstances during COVID-19. Please review the following updated documents:
- WSIAT Adjudication Update (Q and A) - Revised June 15, 2020
- COVID-19 Interim Practice Guideline: Objections to Alternative Hearing Methods - Revised June 15, 2020
- Best Practices: Teleconference and Videoconference Hearing Information for Representatives and Parties - Revised June 15, 2020
I appreciate that many of you have questions and concerns about the Tribunal’s operations during COVID-19. We understand that both parties and representatives face a variety of challenges during this period. The WSIAT also faces many similar challenges, particularly to continue to provide access to justice while safeguarding the health of our staff, OICs, and stakeholders.
In the face of these challenges, the WSIAT remains committed to adapting to the circumstances in order to fulfill its statutory mandate to hear and address matters within its jurisdiction during COVID-19 by utilizing alternative hearing methods (teleconference, videoconference or written submissions). Please see the attached COVID-19 Interim Practice Guideline – Objections to Alternative Hearing Methods – Revised June 15, 2020, for more information, including updates to the relevant case law. The revised Interim Practice Guideline also clarifies the procedure for raising objections to alternative hearing methods. In addition, the revised document provides information about how to request an accommodation at WSIAT hearings, with links to updates on the WSIAT website.
Many of you have questioned why the WSIAT has not moved more quickly to send and receive documents electronically. The short answer is: we’re working on it. Please see the WSIAT Adjudication Update for more details about the considerations at play.
Some of you have asked when the Tribunal will offer in-person hearings. It is still too early to provide an estimated date, but the WSIAT is carefully monitoring the progress of the gradual re-opening of the province and has started the planning process for ensuring a safe return to in-person hearings, when appropriate.
Even when the Tribunal does start to offer in-person hearings, however, it will not be at previous capacity, in order to maintain physical distancing and observe other public health guidelines. Therefore, we anticipate that alternative hearing methods will continue to be utilized in the future to ensure timely access to justice and protect the health of WSIAT staff, OICs, and stakeholders.
Our primary motivation at the WSIAT is to provide timely access to justice to our stakeholders in a manner that is consistent with the principles of natural justice and fairness, and recent jurisprudence, and compliant with the current public health recommendations. In our view, it is in the best interests of both the WSIAT and the WSIAT’s stakeholders to adapt to the current circumstances and pursue alternative hearing methods during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I wish you and your loved ones the best during this challenging time.