COVID-19–Protocol for In-Person Hearings
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canada Industrial Relations Board (the Board) favours the virtual method of holding hearings or mediation. In-person hearings with the parties will be held exceptionally and for well-defined reasons.
When preparing for an in-person hearing at the Board, the parties must review and respect the following directives in order to ensure that the proceedings take place safely. The panel of the Board will discuss the directives with the parties before the hearing and may make any modifications necessary in response to the particular circumstances of each case.
1. The hearing room has been reconfigured in order to allow for physical distancing between hearing participants. Each party will be limited to two individuals, that is, the party’s counsel and representative/client advisor. Individuals will be assigned to tables prior to the hearing, and the seating for observers has been removed. Accordingly, there will not be more than 10 people in the hearing room.
2. Witnesses must appear at the scheduled time for their testimony and must remain in the waiting room outside the hearing room until counsel invites them to enter. Counsel must ensure that they have the witnesses’ contact information on hand in order to inform them of any changes to the schedule.
3. The caucus rooms will be limited to two people per room.
4. Disinfectant wipes will be available at the entrance to the room and each participant will be required to wash their hands before entering.
5. Wipes will be available at each table in the hearing room. Each participant is responsible for wiping their table and chair down when leaving the room.
6. Participants must ensure that they dispose of their trash in the trash cans before leaving.
7. Documents to be presented during the hearing must be submitted to the Board and shared electronically with the other parties at least two days prior to the start of the hearing. No document shall be shared during the hearing.
8. The parties must provide the name and contact information of the individuals who will be present at the hearing. Any changes must be shared with the Board as soon as possible.
9. All participants are responsible for following the public health guidelines in relation to COVID-19 and must take all necessary steps to self-isolate if they are symptomatic or have tested positive for the virus.
10. Counsel for each party must advise their client’s representatives and witnesses that they cannot attend the hearing if they have any of the following symptoms:
- onset or worsening cough
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- fever of 38°C or higher
- feeling feverish
- fatigue or weakness
- muscle or body aches
- loss of smell or taste
- gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting)
- extreme discomfort
Participants will not be allowed to attend an in-person hearing if any of the following apply to them:
- they have symptoms of COVID-19 (listed above), even if they are mild, the day of or in the 14 days prior to the hearing;
- they received a diagnosis of COVID-19, or are waiting for the results of a COVID-19 screening test;
- they have been in contact with a suspected, probable or confirmed case of COVID-19;
- they have been informed by a public health representative that they may have been exposed to COVID-19;
- they have returned from travel outside of Canada in the 14 days prior to the hearing.
At the start of the hearing, each person must confirm that they have read the directives and confirm that none of the criteria listed above applies to them.
11. Individuals must maintain physical distancing of 2 metres with others at all times. They are also expected to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow and immediately clean their hands with a disinfectant product.
12. Masks are strongly recommended at all times and during movements to enter or exit the room. Masks will also be available on request.
13. No pitchers of water or glasses will be available during the hearing. Participants must bring their own water bottles.
Please note that the Board may cancel the hearing if it feels that a participant poses a risk for the transmission of COVID-19.
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