August 1, 2023
Procedure for Resumption of In-Person Hearings
In May of this year, after three years of conducting hearings remotely during the COVID pandemic, the Board announced that as of September 1, 2023, it would resume conducting its hearings in-person at the hospital where the particular accused is detained or reports.
The Board acknowledges that conducting pre-hearing proceedings either virtually or by teleconference has increased the efficiency of those proceedings, and this will continue. However, the Board also recognizes that in-person participation and advocacy remain essential features of our justice system when substantive decisions affecting liberty are made. As a result, as was the case before the pandemic, Board hearings will be public, and will presumptively be held in-person. Participants, including any persons assisting participants at a hearing, witnesses and observers will be expected to attend in person absent exceptional circumstances, including undue hardship.
Where a participant or an observer contends that exceptional circumstances exist in a particular matter that might overcome the presumption of personal attendance in respect of a person, they should make a request to the Board in writing seeking permission for that person to attend remotely and should include a statement of the reasons for the request. The request should be made well in advance of the hearing where feasible and will be determined either by the Chairperson of the Board or the Alternate Chairperson of the panel of the Board scheduled to hear the matter.
All such requests will be considered only on a case-by-case basis, except that parties living in northern communities who would otherwise face significant challenges in attending a hearing in Thunder Bay in person will continue to be permitted to attend that hearing virtually via the Ontario Telehealth Network (OTN), as has been the practice for many years.
The Honourable Michael R. Dambrot, K.C.
Chair, Ontario Review Board
The Ontario Review Board annually reviews the status of every person who has been found to be not criminally responsible or unfit to stand trial for criminal offences on account of a mental disorder. The Ontario Review Board is established under the Criminal Code of Canada. The Board is made up of judges, lawyers, psychiatrists, psychologists and public members appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
Did You Know?
The foundations for the role and responsibilities of the Ontario Review Board go back to Great Britain in the 17th century and the writings of Sir Matthew Hale.