WSIAT Stakeholder Event, February 27, 2023: Highlights

  • April 14, 2023
  • Teresa Gianfelice


The WSIAT Stakeholder event of February 27, 2023 consisted of:

  1. Chair Update – Rosemarie McCutcheon, Tribunal Chair
  2. Caseload Update - Slavica Todorovic, Director, Executive Services and Strategic Initiatives (not covered in this summary)
  3. Recent Noteworthy Decisions – Sarah Schumacher, Counsel to the Chair
  4. Diversity and Anti-Racism Office Update – Lauren Canzius, Director, Diversity and Anti-Racism Office
  5. New Pre-Hearing Process Status Update- Nicole Bisson, Director, Appeal Services

The notes below touch upon the highlights four of the presentations. 

Chair Update

Website Improvements:

  • Easier to find information on accessibility and diversity from the homepage
  • Easier to find accessible formats on forms page
  • Report on 2021 access to justice and accessibility survey posted
  • 2021 Accessibility report posted
  • Information on how to access the AMA guides (3rd Revised)

Resources for Self- Represented Parties:

  • Hearing checklist for parties that are self-represented up on WSIAT’s website
  • WSIAT legal workers are available to provide information from time of appeal to hearing date)
  • Internal guide and training for panel members on dealing with self-represented parties WSIAT exploring a “navigator service” to support self-rep parties more fully in WSIAT hearings – i.e. in the early stages of the hearing process
  • Exploring ways to enhance support – more updates later in 2023

WSIAT Return to Office (RTO):

  • Staff and OIC are working in a hybrid model
  • Expecting library to re-open in mid-April 2023 – probably two times a week.
  • General Items
  • All staff are receiving training on how to de-escalate situations and on equity, diversity and inclusion
  • There will be an upcoming pilot project to expedite certain appeals.  Details to be provided in the future.
  • Recruitment in several departments – especially IT
  • Reduced print/mail/courier costs through electronic case materials
  • Reduced travel expenses due to remote hearing methods
  • Putting money that is no longer used for courier/travel toward key aspects of their work
  • Proposed demolition of 505 University Avenue will not have any immediate impact on the Tribunal

Update on Hearing Formats:

  • Default is now video conference,
  • Expanding availability of in person
  • Can request in person or teleconference as alternative to video hearing
  • Request in person hearing – see how via guidelines available on website
  • Current health and safety measures for in person hearings require more resources than pre-pandemic model
  • Moving cautiously towards new longer term model – not yet set
  • 6 in person hearings confirmed thus far in 2023
  • Longer wait times for in person hearings in Toronto and longer still in regions
  • Virtual hearings have levelled playing field with regards to wait times– Toronto and regional all now same
  • Representatives should continue to complete the online video/teleconference hearings survey, which they will review and consider
  • Guiding principles for hearing formats – they look at this non-exhaustive list:
  • Fair and full hearing – principles of natural justice
  • Public health and safety requirements
  • Individual needs of parties – including accommodations
  • Nature of case and the issues
  • Timeliness and avoidance of unnecessary delay Practical needs and requirements: WSIAT staff onsite, room capacity and comfort levels, location of witnesses Any other relevant considerations – flexibility is key
  • They are exploring methods of hybrid hearings – does use increase WSIAT resources and increased time to hearing
  • Expected increase in members of public on premise. Constructing new security centre on 7th floor at 505 university to support safe and secure environment.

WSIAT stakeholder outreach and training:

  • 3 planned in 2023
  • Keep looking at website for updates
  • Representatives must have substantive and procedural knowledge and training to meet expectations of WSIAT’s code of conduct
  • Be prepared for cases – avoid unnecessary adjournments
  • Appreciate everyone’s patience with transitions