CRT COVID-19 Response Plan
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 has always provided service to the public remotely, and staff continue to be available by phone and email.
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.
We have also taken steps to accommodate team members who may have childcare or other circumstances as a result of COVID-19.
Limitation periods and statutory deadlines
The Province of British Columbia has enacted a provision under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act which says that statutory decision makers, like the CRT, may waive, suspend or extend mandatory time periods.
This provision is expected to be in effect until 90 days after the state of emergency declared on March 18, 2020 ends, but the Province may shorten or extend the 90-day timeline at any time.
A party should contact the CRT as soon as possible if they want to ask the CRT to consider waiving, suspending or extending the mandatory time to file a Notice of Objection to a small claims dispute.
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 while the provision is in effect. 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 a party to a CRT dispute is unhappy with the outcome, depending on the circumstances they may be able to ask the Supreme Court to review it, or ask the Provincial Court to re-hear the matter through the notice of objection process. There are deadlines for starting a court proceeding after a CRT decision. These deadlines have been suspended since March 26, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, these deadlines will resume effective March 26, 2021.
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
The CRT recognizes that the COVID-19 situation may have limited the ability of respondents to receive or respond to Dispute Notices. In the interest of fairness, the CRT did not process requests for default decisions and orders between March 18 and May 31, 2020.
As of June 1, 2020, outstanding requests for default decisions and orders were processed based on the date the dispute became eligible for a party to request a default decision and order.
The CRT’s default decision process is now operating normally.
However, 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. We will post further updates on this page.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.