November 6, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada

Since the beginning of the pandemic, protecting Indigenous and other groups and individuals facing barriers to access to justice has been a priority. Restoring and improving the justice system for northern, remote, and Indigenous communities is therefore a pressing concern for all actors in the system.

Following presentations from experts on how the pandemic has affected court operations in northern, remote, and Indigenous communities, the Action Committee on Court Operations in Response to COVID-19 has published a document on the safe restoration of court operations in these communities.

The Action Committee identified some of the common challenges and concerns for these communities, suggesting ideas for change, as well as key principles that should be reflected in any future response.

The Action Committee is also of the view that any action taken to respond to the pandemic must be consistent with advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership as the foundation of transformative change.

In addition, the Action Committee published a new Tip Sheet on Courtroom Symptom Appearance and Related Situations. This document outlines emergency measures that may be required to ensure the safety of persons present in a courtroom if COVID-19 symptoms appear, despite the implementation and strict enforcement of controls at the entrance to the courts.

Since its establishment in May, the Action Committee on Court Operations in Response to COVID-19 has continued to meet and develop national-level guidance documents as court operations across Canada gradually resume.

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