The rapid spread and the response in the wake of COVID-19 has upended life for Albertans in countless ways. Concerns around employment, child care, and our health are paramount. The courts have not been exempted from a stoppage of day-to-day life, and we would like to take a moment to let Albertans know what is and is not happening in our courts today.
Suspension of sittings
On March 15, Alberta’s courts issued a statement that the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench is limiting hearings to urgent matters or emergencies. They describe emergencies as matters in which serious consequences to persons or harm to property may arise if a hearing doesn’t occur. A situation can also be considered an emergency is there is a risk of loss of jurisdiction or an expiration of an existing protection or restraining order.
Exceptions for civil matters
As we mentioned above, there are exceptions to the closures. For civil matters, the courts are open for orders relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, including quarantine orders. The court will also deal with injunctions where there is a prima facie urgency, including refusal of treatment/end of life matters. Other civil areas in which the court will still hear matters include civil restraining orders, preservation orders, and urgent orders in the nature of habeas corpus, certiorari, mandamus and prohibition.
If you believe your matter is urgent, contact a lawyer, or call 780-427-0629.
Support for Albertans
The Government of Alberta declared the pandemic a public health emergency on March 17. A number of support measures were also announced. Some of these include payment holidays for residential utility customers. Student loan payments will be deferred for six months and interest will not accrue during this time. Additionally, personal banking customers can apply for a deferral on their loans, lines of credit, and mortgages.
Employers and employees
Information and relief is starting to trickle in for employers and employees as well. Corporate income tax balances and installment payments will be deferred until August 31, 2020. Farm and small commercial customers can also defer their utility payments for 90 days without risking cutoff. Businesses can also apply for a deferral on loans and lines of credit for up to six months.
There have also been some changes to the employment standard code. Full and part-time employees are able to take 14 days of job-protected leave if they are required to self-isolate or are caring for a child or dependent adult who is self-isolating. Medical notes are not required for this leave, and an employee does not have to have 90 days with an employer to be eligible. Finally, 15 weeks of assistance is available through employment insurance if people can’t work due to medical reasons or self-isolation. The one-week waiting period for employment insurance has also been waived.
This is a rapidly developing situation, and we will make sure to keep our clients and readers informed.
At HMC Lawyers, we offer strategic legal advice. Our breadth of practice experience allows us to promptly handle almost every litigation-related legal issue that may arise, and anticipate potential roadblocks that may delay its resolution. To make an appointment with a member of our team, contact us online or call 403-269-7220