May 14 update
The Ontario Labour Relations Board published an informational bulletin on May 14 outlining its guidelines for video hearings.
In the Bulletin, the Board recognizes the benefits of conducting hearings by video, including increased accessibility, reduced costs, and a more efficient allocation of resources. It also recognizes that not every case is suitable for a video hearing.
A brief summary of some of the key takeaways from the Bulletin are listed below.
The Board uses Zoom technology, but also has the capacity to use Skype or Microsoft Teams. If a party seeks to use another platform to host the video hearing, that party should make submissions to the Board with a detailed explanation about why an alternative platform should be used.
The Board’s Rules stipulate the manner and restricted size of e-filing submissions and documents. A party seeking to rely on a significant number of documents or voluminous material may request permission by writing to the Registrar’s office to use a third-party Cloud tool (such as Drop Box, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive) to share with the Vice-Chair and the other parties.
Documents should be labelled in a manner that identifies them clearly for the Vice-Chair so that it is not necessary to open the document to understand what it is.
Books of Authorities
Parties should not file a Book of Authorities with the Board. Instead, parties should simply include hyperlinks to publicly available databases such as www.canlii.org.
Conduct of the Hearing
All participants, other than counsel (or self-represented party) and the witness, are to have their microphones muted. If the Vice-Chair engages in mediation, only the parties in the hearing will be permitted to participate in the mediation. The Vice-Chair may use virtual break-out rooms to facilitate the private discussions.
All witnesses in the Board’s proceeding must ensure that at any time they are giving evidence:
May 8 update
The Ontario Labour Relations Board announced additional changes on May 8, 2020 cancelling all in-person hearings until June 30, 2020. The Board will review each file scheduled for hearing to determine whether the hearing will proceed by alternate means and will notify parties of the decision.
March 29 update
The Ontario Labour Relations Board announced additional changes on March 29, 2020, which are effective immediately and until further notice:
March 25 update
As of March 25, 2020, the Ontario Labour Relations Board is operating remotely and has significantly changed its practices as a result. Accoring to the Board, it will process the highest priority matters first, as it deems necessary and appropriate to determine on an urgent basis. All other applications will be processed to the extent that they can be further processed (e.g. referred to mediation) in view of the more limited capacity of the Board in these extraordinary circumstances. Other significant changes to Board procedures include:
As of March 23, 2020, the Board is exercising its discretion not to suspend the time periods in which steps must be taken in its proceedings. Certification, termination, and displacement applications are still being accepted electronically and processed by the Board, provided that declarations have been made on the applicable forms to indicate that the Employer is continuing to operate and carrying on business. The Board continues to exercise its discretion to extend timelines at the request of the parties to proceedings as appropriate and where there is a specific and compelling reason to do so.
The Board has also cancelled all in-person hearings scheduled up to and including May 4, 2020. Parties may make submissions to the Board with respect to rescheduling adjourned hearings to be held instead by telephone or in writing. In addition, all representation votes until May 4, 2020 will be held electronically, although votes will not be held for workplaces closed due to the current pandemic. All in-person mediation meetings scheduled until April 14, 2020 will be cancelled and held instead by teleconference or email.