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Welcome to Simon Shields' Online Law Practice.

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Administrative Tribunal Hearings during COVID-19

With the COVID-19 crisis, on 25 March 2020 Ontario has given it's administrative tribunals flexible rule-authority to facilitate the types of hearings and attendences that it may normally conduct (the choices are in-person, electronic and written). The electronic form of hearing or attendence is very common in the last 10-15 years and all of them are allowed for in the Statutory Powers Procedures Act (SPPA), explained in the ISTHATLEGAL SPPA (Admin Law) guide. With the need for 'social distancing' to fight the COVID-19 pandemic it is expected that both electronic and written hearings (and attendences) will be used.

The Hearings in Tribunal Proceedings (Temporary Measures) Act, 2020 (HTPTMA) applies to all tribunal proceedings [HTPTMA]:
  • under the SPPA,

  • those to which the SPPA "would apply if the application of that Act were not excluded under another Act" [ie. all tribunal proceedings that the SPPA would normally not apply to by virtue of an exclusion in another Act] [SPPA s.2(b)], and

  • those specified in HTPTMA Regulations [none at 14 April 2020].
Despite the complex conflict rules that apply to SPPA matters normally [see Ch.1, s.4 of the SPPA Guide] the HTPTMA prevails [HTPTMA s.4], and these rules apply immediately [HTPTMA s.5] (the normal rule that legislative and regulatory amendments only apply immediately to procedural matters, and not to substantive ones [Temporal Application of Legislation] is overridden).

See the full Hearings in Tribunal Proceedings (Temporary Measures) Act, 2020 here.


Court Limitation Periods and Time Limits during COVID-19

The Ontario government has exercised authority that it has under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to suspend the running of any limitation periods. It also has suspended the running of any time limits (ie. "any period of time within which any step must be taken in any proceeding in Ontario") "subject to the discretion of the court, tribunal or other decision-maker responsible for the proceeding". The Order is retroactive to 16 March 2020 and is currently set to expire 11 September 2020.

See the full EMCPA orders (as amended 13 June 2020) here: Reg 73/20 and Reg 106/20

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It is the nature of such Orders that they may change frequently, even before the current expiration date. To verify the current EMCPA law see the Ontario Statutes website here: EMCPA Statute and Regs.


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