JFK Law COVID-19 Report for the week of May 4, 2020

Band Elections

To address concerns associated with holding band council elections in the midst of the pandemic, the federal government enacted the First Nations Election Cancellation and Postponement Regulations (Prevention of Diseases). The Regulations allow band councils to either cancel or postpone an election, and to extend the term of the current council for 6 months, with the option to extend the term of council for another 6 month period (for the maximum of a 12-month extension). The regulations are available here.

The regulations were passed under section 41 of the First Nations Elections Act. It is a general legal principle that regulations must be consistent with their enabling legislation. This is a problem, as the First Nations Elections Act has mandatory language that requires an election to be held within the period of 30 days before the day on which the term of office ends (s. 6 of the First Nations Elections Act). While the Regulations attempt to get around this principle with the inclusion of sentences such as ‘despite s. 28(1)’, the inconsistency between the Regulations and the First Nations Elections Act makes the Regulations vulnerable to a legal challenge.

If your community is planning on postponing its elections due to COVID-19, please contact us so we can work with you to help ensure that measures are in place to protect the postponement from future legal challenge.

Funding Opportunities

Canadian Roots Exchange

Canadian Roots Exchange is launching a national Community Support Fund to enable small organizations and collectives to support youth wellbeing during COVID-19. Groups can apply for up to $5,000 to provide innovative and essential supports, resources, and initiatives to Indigenous youth (ages 14-29). Projects must directly support Indigenous youth. Priority is given to youth-led, youth-driven initiatives.

More information about the funding opportunity, as well as the application, can be found here.

Courts Update

Federal Court

As of April 29, 2020, these are the following updates from the Federal Court:

  1. An extension of the previously announced Suspension Period until May 29, 2020. During the Suspension Period all hearings are adjourned indefinitely. Urgent or exceptional matters will still be heard.
  2. The court will not hold hearings until June 29, 2020. Timelines for the filing of documents and the taking of other procedural steps will be extended by 14 days following the end of the Suspension Period, to June 12, 2020. However, this does not apply if your matter has been assigned a case management judge.
  3. Recommencement of case management hearings by telephone and videoconference, for matters being specially managed by a Case Management Judge. Judges will continue to hear case management conferences provided that the case is urgent; the case is subject to a deadline set out by statute; the case is subject to a fixed trial or hearing date; or all parties consent to the matter advancing during the suspension period.


As of April 23, 2020, these are the following updates from the Alberta courts:

  1. All civil and family matters scheduled for hearing from March 16, 2020 to May 31, 2020 are adjourned indefinitely, unless otherwise directed by the Court.
  2. All filing deadlines under the Alberta Rules of Court are suspended until May 31, 2020, with the exception of those Rules applicable to the commencement of proceedings, including originating applications.
  3. The Court will hear only emergency and urgent matters, unless otherwise directed by the Court in future Notices to the Profession and Public and Announcements. The Court has the discretion to hear matters other than those listed, and to decline to hear a matter listed.

For more details, click here.

British Columbia

As of April 27, 2020, these are the following updates from the Supreme Court of British Columbia:

  1. A party may bring an application by way of written submissions in lieu of a hearing if: The matter is limited to one disputed issue; and the issue can be addressed on the basis of one affidavit filed per party, no more than 10 pages in length, inclusive of exhibits. More information on the procedure for making an application by way of written submission can be found here.
  2. As of April 17, 2020, and revised on April 24, 2020, the court established procedures to allow parties to schedule a COVID-19 Telephone Conference Hearing for matters that are not urgent or essential and that were previously scheduled for hearing during the Suspension Period. At each Telephone Conference Hearing, parties will be limited to addressing one disputed issue or to bringing forward issues on which they have consent. An affidavit filed for a Telephone Conference Hearing must not exceed 10 pages, inclusive of exhibits. More details can be found here.

As of April 29, 2020, the British Columbia Court of Appeal announced the following updates:

  1. The court will hear all appeals, including those that are not urgent, by way of Zoom videoconferencing, as of May 4, 2020. Chambers applications will also be heard, either by teleconference or in writing. More details can be found here.


There are the following updates from the Ontario courts:

  1. The Ontario Court of Justice will not be returning to full operations on May 29, 2020.
  2. No trials or preliminary inquiries will be conducted until July 6, 2020 at the earliest, unless a judge seized with a continuing matter orders otherwise. This applies to criminal, family and Provincial Offences Act
  3. The Court will soon provide a detailed notice to the profession and to the public about all proceedings in the Ontario of Justice.


The Court of Queen’s Bench has the following updates:

  1. All jury trials will be postponed to Fall 2020;
  2. The court is still accepting and considering non-urgent consent orders;
  3.  As of May 1, 2020, appearance day applications and case conferences will proceed by telephone;
  4. Commencing June 1, 2020, pre-trial conferences will resume;
  5. Commencing June 1, 2020, the Court’s restrictions respecting hearing only urgent and emergency chambers applications will be lifted and will be conducted by telephone.

The Court of Appeal has the following update:

  1. Effective March 23, 2020, all matters before a panel of three judges (appeals or applications) will be heard either by teleconference or by videoconference if videoconferencing is available. If a party believes an in-person oral hearing is necessary, he or she shall explain the reasons for so believing in a letter or email to the Registrar. The Chief Justice or his designate will then make a ruling on how and when the matter will proceed.
  2. The parties may consent to having an appeal or application decided on the basis of written materials only.
  3. The parties may consent to adjourn an appeal or application. The Registrar must be advised as far in advance of the scheduled hearing date as possible if there is to be a consent adjournment.
  4. Limitation periods prescribed by a statute remain in effect.


Manitoba’s COVID-19 court updates can be found here.

New Brunswick

The New Brunswick courts have issued a COVID-19 notice which can be found here.

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador updates can be found here.

Information from the Court of Appeal can be found here.

Nova Scotia

COVID-19 updates from the courts of Nova Scotia can be found here.

Prince Edward Island

The most recent COVID-19 notice from the Prince Edward Island courts can be found here.


Information regarding the courts of Quebec can be found here.

Northwest Territories

COVID-19 updates from the courts of the Northwest Territories can be found here.


COVID-19 updates from the Nunavut courts can be found here.


COVID-19 updates from the Yukon courts can be found here.