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COVID-19: Notice to Counsel/Paralegals and the Public Re: Provincial Offences Act Matters in the Ontario Court of Justice (July 2, 2020)

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The directives on this page have been superseded or replaced by subsequent directives published on the Ontario Court of Justice public website at:
https://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/covid-19/notices-and-info-re-provincial-offences/ They are included here for reference only.

*This Notice supersedes previously announced notices.

Effective Date: 19 May 2020

Revised: 2 July 2020

1. INTRODUCTION

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Province of Ontario extended the Declaration of Emergency until July 15, 2020. In light of the uncertainty about the duration of the state of emergency in Ontario, the Ontario Court of Justice will continue to operate on a reduced schedule.

Until further notice, no in-person Provincial Offences Act proceedings will be conducted until September 14, 2020. Between July 6 and Sept. 11, 2020 remote judicial pre-trials as described below in s. 4.3 and remote early resolution guilty pleas described below in s. 4.4 may be held.

The Court is working closely with its justice partners, including the Ministry of the Attorney General and representatives of Provincial Offences courts, to determine if technology can be used to increase participants’ ability to access courthouse services using remote means, such as by the electronic filing of court material, remote scheduling processes, and remote hearings. The Court is also working with justice partners to plan for the eventual resumption of in-person attendances in a way that protects the health and safety of all participants.

Do not come into a courthouse if you have been advised by public health officials, your doctor, or the Ontario Ministry of Health website to self-isolate.

Please continue to check the Ontario Court of Justice website for updates to this Notice.

2. APPLICATION

This Notice applies to all Provincial Offences Act matters before the Ontario Court of Justice.

3. LIMITATION PERIODS UNDER THE PROVINCIAL OFFENCES ACT

All limitation periods under the Provincial Offences Act have been suspended by an order under s. 7.1.2(2) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. This order is available here: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/200073

This order has been extended by the Government of Ontario until September 11, 2020.

In addition, on March 15, 2020 the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice made an order pursuant to s. 85 of the Provincial Offences Act extending most timelines under the act until April 23, 2020. A copy of this order is available here: https://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/files/POAs85OrderMarch15.pdf

4. SCHEDULING DIRECTIVES

4.1 Suspension of All In-Person Proceedings

Except as otherwise noted in this practice direction, all Provincial Offences Act (POA) in- person proceedings scheduled from Monday, March 16, 2020 through to and including Friday, September 11, 2020 will be adjourned and rescheduled to a later date. If you have a proceeding scheduled during this time, do not attend court. This applies to all Provincial Offences courts in Ontario.
Judicial pre-trials may proceed during this time by audio or video conference. If this applies to your case, you will be notified with the date and time and the audio or video conferencing details. Judicial pre-trials are addressed below in section 4.3.

Early resolution guilty pleas pursuant to s. 5.1(8) of the POA may proceed during this time by audio conference. If this applies to your case, you will be notified with the date and time and the audio or video conferencing details. Early resolution guilty pleas are addressed below in section 4.4.

A notice of the new court date will be sent to both parties by mail to the address on file with the court. For more information, please contact your local Provincial Offences court.
Contact information for all Provincial Offences courts is available here: https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/courts/Court_Addresses/poa/

4.2 Suspension of All Appeals

All Provincial Offences Act appeals to a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice scheduled from Monday, March 16, 2020 through to and including Friday, September 11, 2020 will be adjourned.

All POA appeals scheduled between Monday March 16 and Friday July 31 will be adjourned to a date approximately 10 weeks from the original date. To find out what date your matter is being adjourned to, see the list of adjournment dates. These dates are subject to change. Please check back on this website before your next court date to confirm the date.

The Court will publish an update shortly regarding POA appeals that are currently scheduled to occur on or after August 4, 2020.

If you need to update your address with the court, please contact the courthouse where the appeal is scheduled to be heard. A listing of all court addresses is available here: https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/courts/Court_Addresses/

4.3 Judicial Pre-Trials

Judicial pre-trials will be held by audio or video conference. Cases subject to judicial pre-trials will be determined by local protocol. Parties will be notified of the date and time of the judicial pre-trial and the information for attending the audio or video conference.

4.4 Early Resolution Guilty Pleas

Beginning July 6, 2020, early resolution guilty pleas pursuant to s. 5.1(8) of the Provincial Offences Act may proceed before a Justice of the Peace remotely (i.e., by audio or video conference) in some of the early resolution POA courts in the province.

Formal early resolution is only available in some jurisdictions across the province where the Offence Notice (ticket) indicates the option to request an early resolution meeting with the prosecutor. The decision to offer early resolution is a decision made by the municipalities.

The Provincial Offences Act limits the availability of remote proceedings, and as a result, many proceedings are not currently able to proceed remotely. If your case is eligible for a remote meeting with a prosecutor, you or your representative will be notified with the date and time of the meeting.

4.4 Young Persons

Provincial Offences Act matters where the defendant is a young person (individual under 16 years of age) are scheduled to appear and be heard in a provincially-administered Ontario Court of Justice. As a result, these matters will be adjourned consistent with adjournments in criminal court.

These matters scheduled between Monday March 16 and Friday July 31 will be rescheduled to a date approximately 10 weeks from the original date. To find out what date your matter is being adjourned to, see the list of adjournment dates. These dates are subject to change. Please check back on this website before your next court date to confirm the date.

The Court will publish an update shortly regarding court appearances that are currently scheduled to occur on or after August 4, 2020.

If you need to update your address with the court, please contact the courthouse where the matter is scheduled to be heard. A listing of all provincially-administered court addresses is available here: https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/courts/Court_Addresses/

5. ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES

5.1 Electronic Signatures

The Ontario Court of Justice will accept electronically signed documents where a signature is required. An electronic signature consists of electronic information that identifies the signatory and the date and place of signing. For example, you may type your name as your signature.

6. FILING of POA APPEALS

6.1 Filing of POA Appeals

Until further notice only urgent POA appeals to a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice will be accepted for filing. Urgent POA appeals are limited to those where the defendant is subject to a licence suspension.

If you are subject to a licence suspension and would like to file an appeal, you may do so by emailing your Notice of Appeal to the appropriate courthouse. For a list of courthouse email addresses see: Ontario Court of Justice – Courthouse Email Addresses. If you are unable to file documents by email, contact your local courthouse by email or telephone to find out about other options that are available or information about attending your local courthouse.

If you are appealing a matter under PART III (summons offences) of the POA, you must still serve your Notice of Appeal on the prosecutor’s office before you file it with the appeal court office.
More information about POA appeals is available in the Guide to Appeals in Provincial Offences Cases. The Guide is available here: https://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/self-represented-parties/guide-to-appeals-in-provincial-offences-cases/guide/.

Please note that all limitation periods under the Provincial Offences Act, including the 30 day time limit to file POA appeals, have been suspended by an order under s. 7.1.2(2) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. This order is available here: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/200073 . This order has been extended by the Government of Ontario until September 11, 2020.