The WSIAT is committed to providing service to stakeholders and continues to diligently work to respond to the unprecedented challenges arising from COVID-19. The attached Q and A document provides updates about the WSIAT’s operations during this time and replaces previous communications, including the most recent June 15th version of this document.
The WSIAT is considering all possible options in order to continue to process and adjudicate appeals, applications and other matters during this period in a fair manner. Throughout COVID-19, the WSIAT’s operational decisions have been guided by the following values and commitments:
- Protecting the health and safety of staff, parties and representatives;
- Ensuring access to justice; and
- Delivering excellence in adjudication, which includes conducting fair hearings in accordance with the principles of natural justice and issuing well-reasoned decisions in an efficient manner.
Important updates for parties, representatives and stakeholders to be aware of include:
In line with the Province’s framework for reopening and steps taken by the courts and other adjudicative agencies, in-person hearings resumed at the WSIAT, on a limited and gradual basis, in mid-August 2020. The limited resumption of in-person hearings will be focused on time-sensitive matters in which it has been determined that an in-person hearing is appropriate and necessary.
The WSIAT will continue to provide updates, and related materials, about the limited and safe resumption of in-person hearings as information becomes available.
Although in-person hearings have resumed on a limited basis, the WSIAT will continue to focus on alternative hearing methods (teleconference, videoconference, or in writing) to provide ongoing access to justice. Accordingly, during this period whenever possible, oral hearings will be conducted by teleconference, videoconference or, in some cases, may be converted to hearings in writing unless it is determined that an in-person hearing is appropriate and necessary.
The WSIAT is pleased to report that many matters have successfully proceeded by teleconference or videoconference during COVID-19 and most parties and representatives have provided positive feedback about these alternative hearing formats.
The WSIAT continues to amend its processes with respect to teleconference and videoconference hearings. The WSIAT will no longer be asking hearing participants to provide written consent to participate in videoconference hearings – for more information, please see Question #4.
Participants in teleconference and videoconference hearings are encouraged to complete the WSIAT’s surveys so that the WSIAT can continue to improve its hearings during COVID-19.
The WSIAT is also pleased to announce that we have returned to many of our pre-COVID-19 practices including:
- The WSIAT’s mail room and print shop have re-opened. Parties may communicate with the WSIAT via fax, mail or courier.
- Decisions are being mailed out to parties.
- Summonses are being issued in the normal course in accordance with the WSIAT’s Practice Direction, Summonses and Production of Documents.
- For hearings scheduled the week of September 14th, WSIB Updates will be included in an addendum and provided to parties and the assigned Vice-Chair or Panel in advance of the scheduled hearing date.
The WSIAT is pleased to also announce that effective August 15th, 2020 the WSIAT resumed obtaining medical information and seeking assistance from Medical Assessors - for more information, please see Question #8.
Effective September 14th, and in line with the end of the suspension of limitation periods and procedural timelines., the WSIAT will return to its usual practice of applying the Practice Direction: Disclosure, Witnesses, and the Three Week Rule. This means that beginning with hearings scheduled during the week of October 5, 2020, parties are expected to provide evidence and/or notice about witnesses to the WSIAT and other participating parties (if applicable) at least three weeks before the scheduled hearing date. For more information, please see Question #14 and the notice on the WSIAT’s website.
The WSIAT also continues to develop additional resources to support stakeholders, including:
- Tips for an Electronic WSIAT Hearing
- Hearing Expense for Teleconference and Videoconference Claim Form
- Agreed Statement of Facts Template Form
Questions and answers that have been revised are noted to have been updated in the attached document.
Thank you for your ongoing co-operation and patience as we navigate these extraordinary circumstances.