Offender Assistant Participation at Hearing (COVID-19)

In accordance with subsection 140(7) of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA), an offender can be assisted at a hearing by a person of their choice, unless the person’s presence as an observer would not be allowed (e.g., security reasons). An offender’s assistant can be a family member, friend, lawyer, community support, or another person. The offender can only choose one person as an assistant.

As a result of ongoing travel restrictions and limited access to Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) institutions, and in an effort to protect the health and safety of staff, Board members, offenders, and members of the public, PBC hearings continue to be primarily conducted by videoconference, or by teleconference where videoconferencing technology is not possible.

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, the PBC is accommodating the offender’s assistant at its hearings by authorizing the assistant to join the hearing by teleconference.

Where an in-person hearing is held, in-person attendance will be determined on a case-by-case basis, based on hearing room capacity, which will vary by institution. Should CSC make a decision to limit access to institutions for public health reasons, a previously scheduled PBC in-person hearing may need to be held by teleconference or videoconference.

In all cases, physical attendance in institutions will be voluntary, and remote options will remain available.

All individuals participating in hearings within a CSC institution will be subject to CSC’s established health and safety protocols, including screening, wearing masks, and physical distancing.

If the assistant is unable to be accommodated remotely, the PBC will confirm in advance of the hearing whether the offender would like to proceed with their review without an assistant, where applicable.

The offender’s assistant may submit written documents to the PBC on the offender’s behalf. To avoid delays in the Board’s review, it is strongly recommended that written documents be given to the Board at least 15 days before the hearing.

For more information on Offender Assistants, consult our fact sheet: Offender Assistants at PBC Hearings.

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