May 20, 2020

McLennan Ross Update for Wednesday

By McLennan Ross Labour & Employment Team

What we are seeing
  • The Government of Canada announced that the border with the United States will remain closed for another 30 days to June 21, 2020 for non-essential travel. The border will remain open for commercial traffic and essential workers, as well as illegal immigration that continues unabated at Roxham Road. Prime Minister Trudeau suggested that travellers returning to Canada may be required to self-isolate for 14 days, an idea described by Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam as a "cornerstone" of Canada's federal pandemic policy going forward.
  • If the 14-day quarantine does become a requirement for travellers, it is realistic to assume that businesses will continue to generally ban non-essential business travel and direct employees to continue to conduct business via telephone and video conference.

What we are hearing

  • The Government of Ontario announced yesterday that publicly funded primary and secondary schools would officially remain closed for the rest of the school year. The Province also issued a Framework for Continued Learning which announced more summer learning programs to increase capacity for student participation and an enhanced learning at home portal to assist students to refresh their learning for the 2020-21 school year. New health and safety protocols will be developed before the commencement of the next school year.
  • In Alberta, the Government had announced last week that no decisions have been made on school operations for the 2020-21 school year. Although the potential opening of K-12 schools is part of Stage 2 of Alberta's relaunch strategy, it will continue to be guided by public health officials who have yet to determine whether schools will reopen and, if so, with what restrictions.
  • Although the reopening of day care, out of school care, and day camps formed part of Phase 1 of Alberta's relaunch strategy, they were limited to cohorts of 10 people, including staff and children. With businesses reopening, access to childcare is a fundamental concern for parents with small children who are being directed to return to the workplace. 
  • The limits on gatherings in Alberta was increased last Friday to 50 people.

What we are saying
  • The Court of Queen's Bench continued to release updates regarding operations on May 19, 2020:
    • The Court announced that effective immediately, in cases where each party is represented by counsel, contested applications that would otherwise be heard in Master's Chambers, including special applications that would normally be heard via a dedicated 1/2 day hearing may be submitted to the Court by desk application with written argument if both parties consent or, in exceptional circumstances, if directed by the Court.
    • The Court provided more details regarding mediation and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms available to parties in Family law disputes. 
  • As is obvious from these announcements, the Court is very concerned about the backlog of cases caused by the Court of Queen's Bench being closed for non-emergency matters and is actively attempting to address that backlog in a manner which still affords all parties the procedural protections historically available to litigants. Other parties may choose to pursue private methods of dispute resolution such as arbitration and mediation.

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