COVID-19 Pandemic Operations
COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, is having widespread effects. Given recent events, the Courts are striving to maintain core court operations while safeguarding public health and safety. Our actions have been, and will be, guided by the advice of public health authorities.
In particular, Court operations have been significantly affected by the Premier of Alberta’s declaration on March 17th of a Public Health Emergency, by absenteeism due to self-isolation measures, child care issues and other circumstances and by the public’s need to ensure physical distancing, avoid public gatherings and stay home where possible.
Pandemic Related Court Announcements
In response, each Court has made public announcements regarding steps taken to address current challenges. These announcements are available here.
Announcements regarding any further changes to operations at the Court of Queen's Bench will be available on this website. Subscribe to be notified of all court announcements as they are posted here. Announcements and information will also be available on the Court's Twitter feed.
Requesting an Emergency/Urgent Hearing
As per the Amended Master Order #3 Relating to the Court’s Response to the COVID-19 Virus, the Court continues to hear emergency and urgent matters. Parties and/or Counsel who believe that their matter is urgent are directed to submit a request through the online Emergency / Urgent Hearing Request form.
For the purposes of clarity, reproduced below are the definitions of matters that may be considered emergency or urgent. These definitions are reproduced, in full, from Appendix B of the associated appendices referenced above.
Matters of Highest Priority Requiring Immediate Attention (as of March 23, 2020):
Emergency matters, in which serious consequences to persons or harm to property may arise if the hearing does not proceed, or if there is a risk of loss of jurisdiction or expiration of an existing protection or restraining order, including, but not limited to:
1. Family Matters:
- Orders where there is a risk of violence or immediate harm to one of the parties or a child.
- Orders where there is a risk of removal of a child from the jurisdiction.
- Emergency Protection Order reviews.
2. Civil Matters:
- Orders relating to the pandemic, including quarantine orders.
- Injunctions, where there is prima facie urgency, including refusal of treatment/end of life matters.
- Civil Restraining Orders.
- Preservation Orders.
- Urgent Orders in the nature of habeas corpus, certiorari, mandamus and prohibition.
3. Surrogate Matters:
- Emergency Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Orders, where there is a risk of harm to an individual or their property.
4. Criminal Matters:
- Detention and bail review Orders.
- Wiretap, Production and related Orders.
- Fresh arrest warrants.
Urgent Matters Requiring Priority Attention (as of March 23, 2020):
Subject to the prior approval of a Justice or Master as the case may be, matters that do not rise to the level of the first priority, but must nevertheless proceed in a timely way in the context of a reduction in Court services. These matters include, but are not limited to:
- Arraignments for in-custody accused and Jordan-threatened cases.
- Criminal proceedings where there is a real risk to the fair and proper adjudication of the matter due to the passage of time and where there is consent to proceed by video conference or audio conference.
- Urgent Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Orders.
- Urgent orders relating to parenting time, contact or communication with a child (that cannot reasonably be delayed).
- Urgent or time sensitive Commercial matters where there are immediate and significant financial consequences which may result if there is no judicial hearing.
- Urgent Surrogate Orders.
- Anton Piller or Mareva-type injunctions.
- Freezing Orders.
Master Orders Issued by the Court
Below are all Masters Orders issued by the Court in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic:
Restricted Access to Courthouses
The Alberta Courts are attempting to balance the open court principle with public health priorities. The Courts are taking proactive preventative measures to protect justice system participants and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Effective March 30, 2020, access to all courthouses in the province of Alberta will be restricted until further notice.
Members of the general public will not be permitted to enter a courthouse unless they are:
- parties to the litigation/appeal,
- counsel to the parties to the litigation/appeal,
- interpreters whose presence is required for a proceeding,
- support persons as set out in s. 486.1(1) and (2) of the Criminal Code,
- support workers authorized by the Courts to assist parties to the litigation/appeal,
- members of the accredited media,
- persons paying a criminal fine or restitution order or paying bail or surety applications on behalf of an accused because they are unable to access electronic payment.
- persons filing documents at a Court registry.
- persons whose attendance has been approved by a judge or justice of the Court in which a proceeding is being held.
Lawyers are urged to make use of expanded access to email and fax filing in order to better manage traffic at courthouse counters. Lawyers, Court Runners and Litigants attending at courthouses to file documents in person are directed to make use of the dropboxes or the other alternative forms of filing that have been made available.
Attendance at all courthouses will also be refused to persons:
- who have been advised to self-isolate by public health officials or their doctor,
- who are self-isolating as a result of travel or contact with individuals with COVID-19, or
- who are experiencing any COVID-19 related symptoms.