CRT COVID-19 Response Plan
Last updated on: May 6, 2020
By Shannon Salter, CRT Chair
The CRT is open and operating normally during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our goals are to protect the health and safety of our team and their loved ones, as well as the public, while also doing our best to maintain normal access to the CRT’s dispute resolution services.
Public health authorities continue to advise that the best ways to slow the spread of COVID-19 are through social distancing and frequent handwashing. You can find up-to-date information and advice on the BC Centre for Disease Control website. Consistent with this advice and our goals, see below for the steps we’re taking.
What is the CRT doing to protect staff and the public?
The CRT is already primarily a remote workplace, and we have transitioned our remaining non-remote staff to work from home. Remote staff will no longer visit our office or schedule in-person meetings.
Health authorities recommend against all travel outside of Canada, and any team member returning to Canada from abroad is required to self-isolate for 14 days.
We have also taken steps to accommodate team members who may have childcare or other challenges as a result of COVID-19.
Limitation periods and statutory deadlines
On March 26, 2020 the government issued a Ministerial Order under the Emergency Program Act. It was replaced with a new Ministerial Order on April 8, 2020.
Section 2 of the order suspends limitation periods and other mandatory deadlines for starting a legal proceeding in court. This does not apply to the CRT. Limitation periods and other mandatory time periods continue to apply to CRT proceedings.
However, under the order the CRT may waive, suspend or extend a mandatory time period relating to the exercise of the CRT’s statutory power of decision, including the limitation period and the 28-day deadline to file a notice of objection to a CRT small claims decision.
If you file your application for dispute resolution late because of the pandemic, explain this in your application. If you need to make a request to have a mandatory time period extended relating to an existing CRT dispute, please contact us with your Dispute Number and the reason for your request.
IMPORTANT: The CRT can only waive, suspend or extend mandatory time periods during the declaration of a state of emergency. After the state of emergency ends, the CRT won’t have this ability. That’s why it’s important to contact the CRT as soon as possible if you need the CRT to consider waiving, extending, or suspending a mandatory time period.
If you are a party to a CRT dispute and you need an extension of time due to COVID-19, just contact us with your Dispute Number and the reason for your request.
Default decisions and orders
CRT Rule 1.2(2) provides that:
In exceptional circumstances, the tribunal can waive the application of a rule or timeline to facilitate the fair, affordable, and efficient resolution of disputes.
The CRT has decided that the COVID-19 situation is an exceptional circumstance, because it may limit a respondent’s ability to receive or respond to a Dispute Notice. For this reason, consistent with Rule 1.2(2) and the tribunal’s mandate, the CRT is exercising its discretion to extend timelines for respondents to submit completed Dispute Responses.
In the interests of fairness, the CRT has not processed requests for default decisions and orders since March 18, 2020. The CRT will resume processing requests for default decisions and orders beginning June 1, 2020. Requests will be processed based on the date that the dispute became eligible for a party to request a default decision and order. The CRT may continue to exercise its discretion to extend timelines for respondents to submit completed Dispute Responses.
Parties with a low income don’t have to pay CRT fees.
If you can’t afford CRT fees due to a COVID-19 related loss of income, but do not yet fit the fee waiver guidelines, you can contact us with your Dispute Number and the details of your situation. The CRT will decide whether to waive your fees.
The CRT is monitoring the COVID-19 situation as it progresses and may extend the June 1, 2020 timeline in the interests of fairness. We will post further updates on this page.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.