COVID-19 Procedures and Guidelines

Commission Tribunal COVID-19 Procedures and Guidelines
It is incumbent on the Commission to maintain its hearing function, including timely resolutions to matters set to be heard before it. The safety of Commission employees, parties to the proceeding and the public is of paramount importance.

The Commission has considered the guidelines provided by the province of British Columbia, for the purposes of opening the hearing room and returning to in-person hearings, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, the Commission has ensured that in the Hearing Room:

  • The capacity is reduced:
    • clear barriers have been installed between anyone who will be less than six feet apart, as well as between the parties, the witness, and the commissioners
    • further, for the majority of people in the hearing room, there is a minimum six feet separation between people
    • given the physical separation and distancing of all people in the hearing room, masks are not required. However, if anyone in the room, including the public, the parties, a witness or the panel prefers to wear a mask, they may.
    • The number of public that can attend is limited. The public will have to contact the Commission Hearing Office in advance of the hearing, to request if they can attend, and provide contact information.
  • Everyone attending in the hearing room must follow the Safety Guidelines attached to these guidelines as Appendix A. The Commission Hearing Office will provide these guidelines in advance of the hearing, to the parties to the proceeding, as well as to any member of the public who seeks to attend it.

For pictures of the reconfigured hearing room, please see Appendix B

The following are new practices that the tribunal will institute:

1. For Tribunal Staff In The Hearing Room

  • Ensure:
    • clear barriers are distributed in hearing room prior to hearing, including the solid barrier between the two rows of counsel tables
    • hand sanitizer is available inside the hearing room door.Hand sanitizer is also available by the elevators
    • a sign is on the hearing room door that public occupancy is limited to seven people
    • disinfectant wipes are available in the hearing room for commissioners, parties and counsel, and witnesses
    • podiums have been removed from counsel tables.
  • Use latex gloves for logging into / out of hearing room computers before the hearing and during breaks.
  • Do not distribute water prior to the hearing.
  • Unlock the hearing room door when ready, 15 minutes in advance of the hearing, as the 12th floor lobby may not be large enough to accommodate waiting parties.
  • Remotely
    • inform tribunal counsel and the panel if there are any delays to start of hearing
    • confirm when parties and counsel are ready for the panel to enter the hearing room
    • confirm when the hearing panel is ready to enter the hearing room.
  • Consider well in advance if a translator is required as it may necessitate moving of parties/counsel to accommodate a translator in a COVID-19 compliant manner.
  • Advise facilities of hearing dates, to arrange for daily thorough cleaning and sanitizing of the hearing room.
  • Email the parties and any member of the public who has requested to attend the hearing a copy of the Commission’s Safety Protocols attached to these guidelines in advance of the hearing.

2. For the Panel in the Hearing Room

  • Do not wait in the ante-room as it is not large enough to accommodate three people (wait in the Commissioners’ room).
  • Remotely advise the hearing officer when the panel is ready to enter hearing room.
  • The panel chair will remind the parties and counsel at the beginning of the hearing
    • to maintain six feet of separation from other people in the room – no handshakes
    • to cough or sneeze into their arm or sleeve
    • to remove all personal belongings at the end of the hearing
    • to sanitize their hands each time they enter the hearing room
    • any records the parties and counsel may seek to rely on, that have not already been disclosed, MUST be provided to the Hearing Office electronically in advance.

3. For Parties Attending the Hearing Room

  • Identify at least one week in advance who will be appearing with them, and how many, as the hearing room has capacity limited to seven in the public gallery and two per counsel table.
  • Wear a mask on the elevator; or wait until the elevator is empty, in compliance with Cadillac Fairview’s safety requirements.
  • Follow instructions / directions for the hearing room upon entry and exit.
  • Arrive at the Commission Hearing Room no more than fifteen minutes before the scheduled start time of the hearing. Parties attending earlier will not be allowed in the hearing room, and the Commission lobby may not be large enough to allow for adequate social distancing.
  • Bring and remove at the end of each day any stationary, personal effects or any beverages (with lids) that you may require during the hearing. Water will no longer be provided by Tribunal staff.
  • All parties will remain seated behind the clear barriers when speaking. Parties and counsel will no longer be permitted to stand to make oral submissions as the podiums have been removed.

4. For the Public Attending Hearings

  • Members of the public may attend a hearing in the hearing room, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, the number of seats available in the hearing room is limited to seven.
  • If a member of the public wants to attend, they must:
    • request access to one of the limited seats through the Commission Hearing Office, in advance of the hearing
    • provide the Commission Hearing Office their name and contact information
    • arrive at the Commission Hearing Room no more than 15 minutes before the scheduled start time of the hearing. Anyone attending earlier will not be allowed in the hearing room, and the Commission lobby may not be large enough to allow for adequate social distancing
    • wear a mask on the elevator; or wait until the elevator is empty, in compliance with Cadillac Fairview’s safety requirements.

APPENDIX A

BCSC COVID-19 Safety Protocols – Applicable to the Commission Tribunal

701 West Georgia Street

This protocol applies to anyone (including employee, party, or member of the public) who attends the BCSC Hearing Rooms at 701 West Georgia Street in Vancouver.

Report infection and exposure

Do NOT come to the Commission Offices:

  1. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 as detailed by the BCCDC[1] (Fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat and painful swallowing, stuffy or runny nose, loss of sense of smell, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, loss of appetite), you must not come into the office and must follow medical advice (call 8-1-1).
  2. If you live with a person or have had known contact with a person who has symptoms of COVID-19, you must not come into the office and must follow medical advice (call 8-1-1)
  3. If you are awaiting results of a test, have tested positive for COVID-19, or been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, you must not come into the office until medically cleared to do so.

If you are a party to a proceeding, and develop any symptoms of COVID-19 prior to the hearing and are unable to attend a hearing due to medical advice you have received, you must immediately notify the Commission Hearing Office.   

Practice physical distancing at the Commission

  • Maintain 2m (two arm lengths) physical distancing in all BCSC office spaces, wherever possible
  • Follow the directional signs for walkways
  • Given that physical distancing cannot be maintained in washrooms, masks are required in the washroom.
  • Given that physical distancing cannot be maintained in the building elevators, Cadillac Fairview requires individuals to wear a mask in the elevator. If you choose not to wear a mask in the elevator, you will be required to wait until an elevator is empty.
  • To ensure physical distancing, follow the instructions posted for each shared space (reception, hearing rooms, meeting rooms) regarding the maximum capacity, entry, and use.
  • Follow Cadillac Fairview’s safety protocols when entering or exiting the office, such as elevator capacity limits, use of stairwells

Practice good hygiene at the Commission

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds
  • When unable to wash your hands, use the hand sanitizers located throughout the building
  • Cough and sneeze into an arm or sleeve
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • No personal contact at the office: no hand-shakes and no hugs

Resources on handwashing:

Other Common Areas at the Commission

We are working with the landlord (Cadillac Fairview) to ensure additional cleaning, including:

  • all common areas and high-touch surfaces, including elevators, washrooms, common tables, desks, light switches and door handles, which will be cleaned several times each day
  • deep cleaning at the end of every week
  • ensuring that cleaning staff are healthy when they work
  • ensuring that cleaning staff use protective equipment and effective cleaning products in accordance with public health guidelines
  • following public health guidance following any reported exposure in the building

Report any safety concerns

  • If you see any potential safety concerns, please contact the Commission Hearing Office immediately.           

Resources

Refer to the following link for up-to-date general information on COVID-19:

Contact

Please contact the Commission Hearing Office at:

British Columbia Securities Commission
PO Box 10142, Pacific Centre
701 West Georgia Street
Vancouver, BC V7Y 1L2

Attention: Commission Hearing Office

Fax: (604) 899-6506
E-mail: commsec@bcsc.bc.ca

Stay safe and healthy!

APPENDIX B

Hearing Room Pictures

Reduced capacity in the public gallery

Reduced capacity in the public gallery

Barriers at counsels tables

Barriers installed on counsel tables

Barriers at the hearings officers tables

Barriers installed at hearing officer table

 


[1] BC Centre for Disease Control