Tag: Social Distancing
Courts are reopening across the province. However, going to court will not be like it used to be.
In order to be allowed to enter the courthouse, lawyers and the public will need to complete a COVID-19 courthouse screening questionnaire.
The questionnaire is online and can be completed in advance. Choose the courthouse that you want to visit, and answer five simple questions about your health status. Get the answers right, and you’ll get a checkmark on your screen that you can show to courthouse security. If you didn’t take the test on your smartphone, you can print the results and take that to the courthouse. Get the answers wrong and you are told that you cannot enter the courthouse. The page tells you who you should contact.
The test and results are only good for one day. You have to take the test on the morning of your planned court attendance.
As there will be inevitable delays when entering a courthouse, extra time will be required.
Other changes include enhanced cleaning, hand sanitizer stations, barriers and physical distancing measures. In courtrooms, barriers are being installed in the courtroom where the judge sits, at the witness stand, court personnel work stations and counsel tables. Disinfectant wipes are available at counsel tables. Documents handed up to the judge are to be placed in a bin or on a trolley. Access to elevators is limited. Court counters are open for limited hours.
Read more about court reopening protocols here.
Thanks for reading.
There is no denying that long-term care homes have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yesterday, the Globe and Mail released a sobering article on the impact social isolation has had on Canada’s long-term care and nursing homes, citing that approximately 82% of the country’s COVID-19 deaths have been linked to long-term care facilities.
Now, family members and advocates for Elders are learning that banning visitors from nursing homes could have inadvertently created negative consequences for residents. Prior to social distancing restrictions having been put into place, relatives and private caregivers were often-times relied upon at mealtimes. Through banning visitors, already short-staffed facilities lost the extra assistance provided by family members and private caregivers.
CanAge, a national seniors’ advocacy organization, is receiving concerning reports that some residents are not being fed, with mealtimes forgotten.
This is especially concerning given the risks that extreme temperatures bring as the summer months approach. Jane Meadus of the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly (“ACE”) explains that Ontario’s most recent design standards for new long-term care homes (last updated in 2015), still do not require rooms to be air conditioned, only common areas. For more on the difficulties extreme temperatures pose for residents and front-line workers alike, see here.
Heather Keller, who researches nutrition and aging at the University of Waterloo explained further difficulties social isolation poses to residents’ nutrition, especially those with cognitive impairments. When eating alone, residents tend to consume less, as they are not exposed to important social cues they would otherwise get if eating in a dining room setting.
Families and seniors’ organizations are calling on Ontario (and other provinces) to relax restrictions on visits, citing the risks to residents’ physical and mental health.
For more on our coverage of COVID-19’s impacts on long-term care, please see links to the below blogs:
Finally, for information on the Residents’ Bill of Rights within Ontario’s Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007 see Stuart Clark and Doreen So’s podcast here.
Thanks for reading!
We have previously blogged about NoticeConnect’s Canada Will Registry. The Will Registry allows lawyers and law firms to register their clients’ estate planning documents. Other lawyers are then able to search the Registry for the Will of someone who has passed away. The Registry alerts the lawyer who registered the Will of the search, and the lawyer can decide whether to disclose the existence and location of the Will.
On Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford released a list of essential businesses, which included lawyers, meaning that law firms may remain open during the shut-down of non-essential businesses in Ontario. That being said, we are still being encouraged to maintain social distancing, and many of us are working from home to try to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Working from home can present a unique set of challenges for solicitors with an estate planning practice, given the volume of original documents that must be stored, organized, updated, and maintained. Records may be kept partially, or entirely by paper records, which are physically located at the office, and inaccessible from home.
The Will Registry can be a helpful tool in organizing estate planning documents electronically, in order to reduce or eliminate issues with accessing records and information when working remotely.
NoticeConnect recently posted this blog setting out how the Will Registry can help professionals work from home. For instance, one of the tools mentioned is the ability to attach electronic copies of documents, such as Wills, to your registered records. This would allow you, and any staff who have access to your digital Will vault, to access and review estate planning documents. This may be helpful in a situation where a client contacts you seeking advice as to whether their Will needs to be updated; you would not be required to go into the office in order to review the client’s Will. There are also organizational tools, which can help with searching, sorting, and updating your records.
In these uncertain and constantly changing times, it is useful to consider any tools that may help us adapt and maintain our practice.
Thanks for reading and stay safe!
These other blog posts may also be of interest to you:
Yesterday, Arielle Di Iulio blogged on COVID-19 and the response by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
In a Notice dated March 15, 2020, the Chief Justice of Ontario advised that the Superior Court of Justice is suspending all regular operations until further notice. All criminal, family and civil matters scheduled to be heard after March 17, 2020 are adjourned.
There is an exception for “urgent matters”. as defined in the Notice, and a procedure is set out for dealing with such urgent matters.
For the most part, the court is still accepting filings. Where an application is to be issued, it is issued without a fixed return date.
How can parties obtain relief if a matter is not urgent? Consider a motion in writing.
Rule 37.12.1(1) of Ontario’s Rules of Civil Procedure allows a motion to be brought in writing without the attendance of the parties (unless the court orders otherwise), where the motion is on consent, unopposed or without notice.
Further, under Rule 37.12.1(4), a party may propose that the motion be “heard in writing” without the attendance of the parties where the “issues of fact and law are not complex”. In response, the responding party may agree to have the motion “heard and determined in writing”, or serve a notice that the responding party intends to make oral argument.
As serving a notice of intention to make oral argument will essentially, for now, prevent the motion from proceeding, now more than ever parties and their counsel must practice the “three C’s” of the commercial court: co-operation, communication and common sense.
Stay safe. Have a great, but isolated weekend.