‘We are now taking a careful and staged approach to expanding the operations of provincial courts and implementing strict public health measures so that in-person matters can be heard safely’
Ontario will begin resuming in-person proceedings on July 6, 2020, and strict health and safety protocols to protect staff will be in place.
“We have worked with justice partners throughout the COVID-19 outbreak to keep people safe and maintain the administration of justice,” said Doug Downey, attorney general. “We are now taking a careful and staged approach to expanding the operations of provincial courts and implementing strict public health measures so that in-person matters can be heard safely.”
To start, 149 courtrooms in both the Superior and Ontario Courts of Justice are reopening in 44 locations. Additional courtrooms will open by September with the remaining opening by November 1, 2020.
To help maintain physical distancing, plexiglass barriers are being installed in courtrooms, interview rooms, intake offices and at public counters. Everyone who visits a courthouse will also be required to wear a face covering and will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.
“As our province begins to recover from this outbreak, we are determined to ensure justice services are responsive, accessible and resilient, while we protect the health and well-being of everyone who enters a courtroom in this province,” said Downey. “Together with partners, we will continue to move services online and establish new, innovative ways of delivering justice remotely.”
The government is also consulting with justice sector partners, leaders and innovators to develop investment priorities to support new ways of delivering and increasing access to justice that span the entire sector and province, including rural and remote communities and criminal, civil and family law fields.
Since March 16, 2020, the Superior and Ontario Courts of Justice have facilitated over 21,000 calls to hear matters remotely, using video and teleconferencing. Online filing for civil claims, small claims and family law matters are also available in Ontario.
In April, the Ontario government announced it is providing an emergency payment of more than $2.7 million to support services for victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes during the COVID-19 crisis.