On March 21, 2020, Tammy Law, President of the OACPL released the following letter to our membership on behalf of the Board of Directors.
RE: Message from the Board of Directors
As many of you are aware, the government response to COVID19 has been evolving quickly. From the very beginning, the OACPL has advocated for an approach to court appearances that minimizes risks to our members and clients, namely, that all appearances should be held remotely. Given the current public health risks, the OACPL also strongly recommends that
members not appear in-person at court until further notice, and that members insist on appearances by remote access only. Members should be aware that in-person appearances at court puts ourselves, our clients, court staff, and the public at risk.
In addition, the OACPL is aware of the financial impact these measures will have on everyone in our bar. We are engaging in discussions with Legal Aid and expect that they will be announcing measures to speed up billing and extend billing deadlines. In addition, Legal Aid is considering other administrative measures to assist with the current crisis.
Finally, the OACPL expresses great concern about the current policy of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto suspending all face to face visits between parents and their children. This policy has been interpreted by the Toronto agency to apply to all access, even where children are residing with kin caregivers or parents who consent to the access taking place. The OACPL
is concerned about the disproportionate response towards access taken by some agencies, as demonstrated by the policy of the Toronto agency. We will be advocating for our clients with respect to this issue given that appropriate protective measures can be adopted to allow access to proceed safely and in the best interests of children. Keeping children away from their families at this time may ultimately be detrimental to the children and our clients.
The OACPL will continue to monitor and assess the evolving circumstances. We understand the importance of having full court services restored as quickly as possible, once it is safe to do so.
President of the OACPL
On behalf of the Board of Directors