THE COURTS' COVID-19 MESSAGECourts of Saskatchewan
The Ministry of Justice's Court Services Branch requires everyone attending a court facility to wear a medical grade mask and answer COVID-19-related screening questions.
Courts of Saskatchewan
Courts’ COVID-19 Response
Saskatchewan’s courts continue to actively respond to the COVID-19 situation in an effort to both stem the spread of the virus and maintain operations to the extent possible.
Each of Saskatchewan’s three courts face very different operational issues in responding to the challenges posed by COVID-19.
Review each court’s current COVID-19 Notices and Updates:
ADJUST FONT SIZE
Provincial CourtCOVID-19 UPDATE
Provincial Court of Saskatchewan
Update | As of Jan. 3, 2022
The Provincial Court is mindful of its responsibility, as an essential service, to continue to operate while taking reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of those that work within the court facilities and the public. Accordingly, as a result of the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, the Court is introducing the following measures effective immediately:
- All permanent and circuit point locations remain open to the public;
- Appearances by accused and counsel for out of custody criminal docket matters will presumptively be heard by telephone. You or your lawyer need to contact the Court Office to make arrangements with a clerk. The phone numbers for the court offices can be found here;
- Scheduled trials and other in-person hearings will proceed in person unless otherwise ordered by a judge;
- The court party will appear remotely at fly-in circuit point locations. You or your lawyer need to contact the Court Office to make arrangements with a clerk. The phone numbers for the court offices can be found here.
These measures will remain in effect until February 11, 2022.
Chief Judge S. Metivier
Court of Queen's BenchCOVID-19 UPDATE
Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan
Directive Update | As of January 10, 2022
The Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan is committed to taking the steps necessary to safeguard the health of everyone in our courtrooms and court facilities while ensuring access to justice, upholding the rule of law, and continuing court operations as effectively and efficiently as possible.
As such, in response to the most recent information available concerning the public health risks posed by COVID-19 and its variants, the Court of Queen’s Bench has issued this Directive respecting its operations. This Directive applies to all Court of Queen’s Bench judicial centres throughout the province.
The Court will continue to monitor the situation related to COVID-19 and its variants, and will update the Court’s Directives from time to time.
This Directive takes effect immediately.
Postponement of Jury Trials
All jury trials scheduled to commence between January 10 and February 25, 2022 are postponed. This Directive does not apply to jury trials currently in progress.
Any person who has been summoned for jury duty for a matter scheduled between January 10 and February 25, 2022 is not to attend.
Unless otherwise directed by the Justice assigned to the trial, the adjournment of the jury trials postponed as a consequence of this Directive will be spoken to in Court or by video or audio conference on the date the matter was originally set for trial.
For the criminal cases affected, arrangements may be made for a re-election to trial by judge alone. If the accused wishes to proceed on that basis, the trial may proceed during the scheduled time period (if there is no other bar to the matter so proceeding). If there is no re-election, the trial will be adjourned to a date after February 25, 2022. The Court will grant rescheduling priority to those cases that are adjourned.
This Directive updates—but does not replace—the September 7 and 15, 2021 Directives.
This Directive updates, but does not replace, the Directives dated September 7 and 15, 2021. Except for the changes outlined in this Directive, all of the provisions of the September 7 Directive (as modified by the September 15 Directive) remain in full force and effect.
CHIEF JUSTICE M.D. POPESCUL
Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan
Directive Update | As of September 15, 2021
This Directive updates the Directive that became effective September 7, 2021. The Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench continues to monitor and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Court is mindful of its responsibility, as an essential service, to continue to operate while simultaneously ensuring that appropriate safeguards are put in place to protect those who work within, and interact with, the Court.
Accordingly, as a result of the worsening of the spread of COVID-19 within the Province, the Court will reintroduce some measures that were removed in the most recent Directive that came into effect September 7, 2021. In particular, the Court will, effective immediately, revert to hearing all Civil and Family Chambers matters, presumptively, by telephone. New applications should contain the “notice” advising the parties that all chambers appearances will be by telephone, unless otherwise ordered. This Directive stands as an amendment to the practice in Civil and Family Chambers only. Child Protection Chambers continue to proceed by telephone only, in accordance with the process outlined in the September 7th Directive. Specific details are set out below.
PART 1 – EFFECTIVE DATE
PART 2 – CIVIL AND FAMILY CHAMBERS APPLICATIONS
PART 3 – UPDATES TO THE DIRECTIVE
PART 1 – EFFECTIVE DATE
This Directive update, subject to the specific dates mentioned herein, takes effect September 15, 2021.
PART 2 – CIVIL AND FAMILY CHAMBERS APPLICATIONS
Civil and Family Chambers Presumptively by Telephone
All Civil and Family Chambers applications shall be heard by telephone, unless the presiding judge grants permission or directs a party or parties to appear in person. A party who wishes to appear in person must notify the local registrar of their request to appear in person at least two business days prior to the hearing date, after which the presiding judge will determine whether the party will be permitted to appear in person rather than by telephone.
All parties appearing by telephone shall provide to the local registrar the telephone number where they can be reached on the date and time scheduled for their chambers attendance and shall remain available by telephone at that number on that date until their matter is heard.
Amendment to Notice of Application Forms for Civil and Family Chambers
Until further notice, all Notices of Application, Originating Applications, Applications for Variation or any other hearing notices returnable to chambers (other than Child Protection applications) must contain the following notice immediately below the date and time set for the chambers appearance:
“Due to the health risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, all chambers applications will be heard by telephone unless the presiding judge has decided otherwise. To confirm the telephone number where you can be reached on the date of the application, you must immediately contact the office of the local registrar at (306) (insert telephone number of local registrar) and provide your telephone number. You must remain available by telephone at that number on that date until your matter is heard.”
Chambers by Video Conferencing
Where counsel or a party requests that a chambers application be conducted by video conference, they must notify the local registrar of their request at least two business days prior to the chambers date, after which the presiding judge will determine whether the party will be permitted to appear by video conferencing rather than by telephone. The use of video conferencing is subject to the discretion of the chambers judge.
Civil and Family Chambers Lists
Civil and Family Chambers lists will be available to parties or counsel, on request, the morning of the chambers date, in a manner to be determined by the local registrar.
PART 3 – UPDATES TO THE DIRECTIVE
As the circumstances of the operational challenges posed by COVID-19 change, the terms of this Directive may be amended. Please continue to check this page for amendments.
CHIEF JUSTICE M.D. POPESCUL
Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan
Directive Update | As of September 7, 2021
This Directive updates and replaces all previously issued Directives respecting the general operations of the Court of Queen’s Bench while addressing issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
All public health restrictions (physical distancing, masking, etc.) have been lifted by the Public Health Officer. Accordingly, normal court operations will resume, subject only to the restrictions and modifications contained within this Directive.
The Court continues to be mindful of its obligation to continue to hear and process matters that come before the Court, while simultaneously respecting the need to adhere to recommendations and protocols designed to keep everyone safe. The Court continues to monitor the circumstances and recognizes that as the situation evolves further changes may be required.
For the most part, and subject only to the modifications contained in this Directive, the Court will revert to its pre-COVID-19 practices and procedures.
PART 1 - BACKGROUND
Commencing March 15, 2020, the Court implemented and issued a number of Directives to respond to issues created by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. All of those Directives are now repealed and replaced by this Directive.
PART 2 - EFFECTIVE DATE
This Directive update takes effect on September 7, 2021.
PART 3 - SCHEDULING
As the Court moves forward, using judicial resources efficiently is still a priority. Accordingly, to assist the Court in creating and maintaining an efficient schedule, counsel and parties are encouraged to:
- Take advantage of the expedited pre-trial process described in Practice Directive GA-PD#4 – Expedited Pre-Trial Conferences.
- Notify the local registrar as soon as possible when a scheduled conference, hearing or trial date is no longer needed.
- Collaborate with opposing counsel or parties to resolve evidential or other matters that may result in reducing trial time.
- Ensure that settlement discussions are held in a timely fashion so that, if a matter settles, there is sufficient notice to backfill the Court’s time that has become free. (Settling a matter on the “court house steps” results in an inefficient use of institutional resources.)
- Notify the local registrar immediately on becoming aware of any circumstance that could result in the delay of a scheduled matter, as this increases the opportunity for another matter to proceed in the vacated slot.
- Attempt to obtain mutually acceptable dates (several dates would be preferable) when requesting the scheduling of a civil matter and, thereafter, the party requesting the scheduling shall relay these dates to the local registrar.
- Respond promptly to all messages and calls from the local registrar.
PART 4 - CHAMBERS AND PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCES (OTHER THAN CHILD PROTECTION)
Chambers proceedings and Pre-Trial Conferences will be presumptively in person. Those that wish to appear remotely should contact the local registrar, in advance, and seek leave from the presiding judge to appear remotely.
PART 5 - USE OF TECHNOLOGY
Although court appearances will revert presumptively to in-person hearings (except for Child Protection Matters as set out herein), counsel and litigants are encouraged to continue to make use of technology where appropriate. Lessons learned over the past 18 months can continue to benefit the Court, counsel and the parties.
Online video conferencing through WebEx is available for use in the court rooms and conference rooms. Although online video conferencing through WebEx is generally permitted for use in these spaces, its use in any particular proceeding must be approved in advance by the presiding judge and is subject to the availability of resources to set up and manage the video conference. As such, apart from longer Chamber applications to be heard at a set time, WebEx is not expected to be used for Chambers.
CCTV video conferencing is also available between court houses and most correctional institutions.
Where counsel or a party to a proceeding believes that the proceeding or a portion of the proceeding can be conducted by video conference without jeopardizing the integrity of the proceeding, they are encouraged to request that the conference, hearing, witness appearance or trial be conducted by video conference. The request should be made either at a pre-trial or through the local registrar. The use of video conferencing is subject to the discretion of the judge presiding at the hearing or trial.
Audio/Video Conferencing in Criminal Matters
The Criminal Code contains specific provisions respecting remote appearances. This Directive must be read as consistent with those provisions.
The Court is amenable to the use of other technology in court proceedings provided its use does not jeopardize the integrity of the proceeding. The use of other technology for a particular case may be requested at a pre-trial or through the local registrar. The use or development of other technology for general applications may be brought to the attention of the Registrar of the Court. The use of these options is subject to the discretion of the presiding judge.
Early Consideration of the Use of Technology
Counsel or a party considering the use of technology, in whatever form, should consider their possible options in a timely fashion so that the mechanics of the proposed technology can be accommodated. Specifically, the local registrar should be notified at the earliest possible date of the potential for the use of technology (e.g., a witness testifying by video from another province).
Reliable Secure Telephone Line
It is the responsibility of the person choosing to appear by telephone to ensure they have a reliable and secure telephone line. A location where background noise is minimal should be utilized. Also, wherever possible, a land line should be used, rather than a cell phone, as a land line connection is generally of better quality.
PART 6 - CHILD PROTECTION APPLICATIONS
Attendance at a Child Protection Chambers Matter:
Until further notice, Child Protection Chamber matters will continue to proceed by telephone as follows:
- Ministry lawyers, lawyers representing a party, the chief of a Band, the chief’s designate or the agency, if any, that is providing family services to the members of the child’s band, or the representative of the Indigenous governing body acting on behalf of the Indigenous group, community or people to which the child belongs, as the case may be, shall participate by telephone conference call as directed by the local registrar.
- Parents, care providers, and persons of sufficient interest wishing to participate in the hearing by telephone conference call shall provide their contact phone number to the Ministry worker assigned to the case or to the local registrar. The local registrar will call them for the court attendance at the phone number provided by them to the Ministry, unless the participant has made arrangements with the local registrar to be contacted at another phone number. Parents, care providers, and persons of sufficient interest wishing to participate in the hearing by telephone conference call are expected to be available by phone at the time set for the commencement of their Chamber matter until they are called. If they are not available at the phone number when called, the presiding judge may decide to proceed in their absence.
- Until further notice, Ministry workers or supervisors need not be in attendance during Child Protection Chamber matters, either on the telephone conference call or in the hearing room, but they shall ensure that they are available by phone at the time of the hearing in the event the presiding judge determines their appearance is required during the hearing of the matter.
Notwithstanding this Directive, any participant is entitled to appear in person during a Child Protection Chamber matter in the hearing room at the judicial centre indicated in the protection hearing notice should they wish to do so.
Attachment to Notices of Protection Hearings (in Family Services Matters):
Until further notice, all Notices of Protection hearings or any other hearing notices returnable to Chambers in child protection matters must have appended to the Notice or other hearing notice the following statement:
Until further notice, child protection chambers applications will be heard by telephone conference call unless the presiding judge has decided otherwise. To confirm the phone number where you can be reached on the date of the application, you must immediately contact the office of the local registrar at (306) (insert telephone number of local registrar) and provide your phone number where you may be reached at the time of the hearing. Alternatively, you may provide your phone number to the Ministry worker or supervisor in charge of the case. You must remain available by phone at that number on the hearing date until your matter is heard. Be aware that if you are not available at the phone number provided when the court attempts to reach you, the presiding judge may decide to proceed with the hearing in your absence.
Time and Days for Hearings:
Until further notice, Child Protection Chamber matters in the Judicial Centre of Prince Albert shall be scheduled to be heard by telephone conference call on a Monday, other than a statutory holiday, at 2:00 p.m.
Until further notice, Child Protection Chamber matters in the Judicial Centre of Regina and the judicial centre of Saskatoon shall be scheduled to be heard by telephone conference call on a Tuesday and shall be set at staggered times of 10:00 a.m.; 12:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.
1800 Central Avenue
Prince Albert SK S6V 4W7
Phone: (306) 953-3200
Fax: (306) 953-3210
2425 Victoria Avenue
Regina SK S4P 4W6
Phone: (306) 787-5377
Fax: (306) 787-7217
520 Spadina Crescent East
Saskatoon SK S7K 3G7
Phone: (306) 933-5135
Fax: (306) 975-4818
PART 7 - APPEARANCE DAY APPLICATIONS
The Queen’s Bench Rules were amended effective September 1, 2020 to provide that all Appearance Day applications will now be scheduled to be heard “30 minutes before the time chambers is scheduled to commence”, rather than at “the end of chambers list.” (This will mean that most Appearance Day applications will be heard at 9:30, except when Chambers commences at 1:30 due to a statutory holiday, in which case the Appearance Day application will be scheduled for 1:00.) This change is intended for the convenience of counsel and the parties. By more precisely designating the time when the Appearance Day application will be heard, the time during which counsel or the parties must remain available for the Court’s call is reduced. Appearance Day applications will continue to be heard by telephone.
PART 8 - JURY TRIALS (CIVIL AND CRIMINAL)
Until further notice, all jury trials will continue to be held at a location other than a court house to ensure sufficient space in maintaining appropriate physical distancing for those participating in the trial process, including those persons who respond to a jury summons and those chosen to serve as a juror. The selection of the space and the protocols that will be in place to screen jurors and to maintain physical distancing outside of the courtroom will be managed by the Court Services Division of the Ministry of Justice [the Ministry] in accordance with Court Services Jury Management Policy and Procedures.
The trial judge will manage all circumstances and situations within the courtroom.
PART 9 - GENERAL GUIDELINES RESPECTING HEALTH PRECAUTIONS WHEN ATTENDING THE COURT HOUSE
All court houses remain open to the public.
Everyone attending the court house must take responsibility for their health and safety, and the health and safety of others with whom they may have contact. This means that all attendees must inform themselves and obey the recommended and mandatory Public Health Rules and Orders, including rules respecting hygiene and physical distancing.
Lawyers, parties and members of the public may be required to wear masks.
The presiding judge will determine the requirements respecting wearing masks within the courtroom.
The Ministry’s Court Services Division will determine the requirements respecting wearing masks within the court house (not including the courtroom).
PART 10 - UPDATES TO THE DIRECTIVE
As the circumstances of the operational challenges posed by COVID-19 change, the terms of this Directive may be amended. Please check back regularly for amendments.
Chief Justice M.D. Popescul
Court of AppealCOVID-19 Update
Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan
Notice to the Profession, the Public and the Media | July 13, 2021
Since March 23, 2020, the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan has heard all appeals and applications electronically, either by teleconference or by videoconference. The Court is now preparing to resume in-person hearings, and wishes to advise counsel, litigants, and members of the public of upcoming changes.
Appeals and Applications to the Court
Effective Tuesday, September 7, 2021, the Court will resume in-person hearings for all appeals and applications. As of that date, all hearings will occur with judges and court clerks sitting in the court room. However, in the interests of improving access to justice and promoting the open courts principle, counsel and self-represented litigants may, on an ongoing basis, choose at their individual option whether to attend their hearing in person or by WebEx video. This means that some proceedings will feature all of the lawyers and/or self represented litigants being physically present in the courtroom, some might feature only the judges and the clerk in the courtroom with all other participants appearing by Webex, and some might involve some counsel or self represented litigants being physically present and some appearing by WebEx. Recent upgrades to the Court’s audio and visual technology have made this possible.
Counsel and self-represented litigants who elect to appear remotely will not be able to file documents with the Court during the hearing. As such, any documents that have not already been provided to the Court and that counsel or self-represented litigants wish to file must be provided to the other party(s) and the Court’s registry office at least one clear day before the hearing date.
Media and Public
The Court recognizes both the important role that members of the media play in informing the public about its work and the right of individual members of the public to attend its proceedings. As a result of the audio-visual technological upgrades to the courtrooms, both members of the public as well as accredited members of the media may listen to or observe hearings as they occur by contacting the Court’s registry office in advance for instructions on accessing hearings by WebEx.
Prohibition on Recording or Saving a Recording of an Electronic Hearing
The usual courtroom guidelines continue to apply to the audio and video recording of an electronic hearing. Participants may not record or save still images or audio or video of the hearing unless they are accredited members of the media. Accredited members of the media may use recording devices or save audio recordings for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy of their reporting but not for broadcast or publication.
The Registry Office
Until such time as the Registry Office reopens to the public, registry staff continue to offer assistance to lawyers and self-represented litigants by telephone at (306) 787-5358. Documents can be delivered to the Registry office via eCourt or by regular mail, email or fax at (306) 787-5815. For documents delivered by eCourt, automatic notification is sent to the filing party when the document is approved for filing or rejected. For documents delivered by regular mail, email or fax, Registry staff will notify litigants by telephone or email if the documents are not approved for filing. For litigants who are unable to use regular mail, email or fax and who need to file documents in person at the Registry office, there is a drop box available. Registry office staff continue to check the drop box several times each day. They will notify litigants by telephone or email if the documents received in the drop box are not approved for filing.
Notwithstanding the lifting of public health measures by the Province, and while masks are no longer required to be worn to enter the court house, the Court or presiding judge may still require that masks be worn and that physical distance be maintained in a courtroom during any proceeding.
The Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan thanks everyone for their patience and support, which has allowed the Court to maintain its hearing schedule since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Honourable Robert G. Richards
Chief Justice of Saskatchewan