Notice to the Profession
May 14, 2020

State of emergency extended

The current state of emergency is being extended through to the end of the day on May 26, 2020. In announcing the extension, Premier John Horgan stated that he anticipates the state of emergency will remain in place for the foreseeable future, but the provincial cabinet will continue its approach of renewing it in two week increments to adjust according to the advice of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. The Order-in-Council renewing the state of emergency may be found here.

COVID-19 and resuming safe operations at office workplaces

While the state of emergency has been extended, phase two of the BC Restart Plan which will see the re-opening of some businesses, services and facilities begins on Tuesday, May 19. For law firms and lawyers who are contemplating their own plans to resume operations and bring employees safely back to their workplace, WorkSafeBC has developed guidelines on returning to safe operations.

The guidelines require employers to create a carefully prepared plan prior to bringing employees back into the workplace. The plan should address how your workplace is organized and arranged, how specific tasks will be carried out, how safe physical distancing will be maintained, and what cleaning and hygiene measures will be in place. Employers are also encouraged to consider the unique challenges and concerns of their employees, including how to ensure safety if employees are required to take public transit to work, require access to particular equipment or spaces like break rooms, or who have child care or elder care obligations at home. WorkSafeBC has developed a Guide for Employers to help employers to know what they should be asking their employees.

WorkSafeBC will also require employers to communicate their plan to everyone at the workplace, as well as be prepared to explain their plan and communication efforts if visited by a compliance inspector. Further information, including FAQs, may be found on the WorkSafeBC website.

Town hall video recording available

Thank you to those who participated in the Law Society’s virtual town hall with President Craig Ferris, QC and Executive Director and CEO Don Avison, QC. Those who attended were provided with an update on what the Law Society has done to address the impact of COVID-19 and an opportunity to ask questions and offer input about the future. A video recording of the town hall is now available online. Feel free to forward to colleagues who might find the information useful.

Supreme Court resumes trial management conferences and trials in civil and family matters

The Supreme Court has issued a notice that the court is now preparing to resume trial management conferences and civil and family trials. Trial management conferences scheduled on or after June 1, 2020 and trials scheduled on or after June 8, 2020 will resume, unless the Court otherwise directs. Trial management conferences and trials that were adjourned due to the court’s suspension of regular operations may be rebooked using the processes set out in the full notice. Timeframes for filing and serving trial briefs (civil matters), trial records, and trial certificates have been amended for TMCs and trials scheduled to begin on or before July 24, 2020. Judicial Management Conferences may be booked online starting May 19, 2020.