Courthouse Functions for Civil Matters

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice (including the Small Claims Court) has suspended all operations as of March 17, 2020 and until further notice, though it continues to hear urgent matters. Please speak to a lawyer to determine if your matter is “urgent”. Urgent motions will proceed either in writing, or via telephone or video conference.

All non-urgent matters that were originally scheduled to be heard on or after March 17, 2020 have been adjourned. In the coming weeks, the Court will be finalizing a plan to resume regular operations and will advise of the new hearing dates.

Most courthouses remain open for regular, non-urgent, filing but the government has strongly advised that litigants not attend court at this time for anything that is not urgent. Litigants can expect that the Court will grant extensions of time for filing once the Court’s normal operations resume, though parties must still comply with orders/rules requiring the service or delivery of documents as between parties.

Statements of Claim and Plaintiff’s Claim may be filed online through the Small Claims Court online filing service, or the Civil Claims Online Portal for Superior Court civil matters.

Limitation Periods and Procedural Timelines

Effective March 16, 2020, all limitation periods and procedural timelines have been suspended for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.

Residential Evictions

The execution of all Writs of Possession issued by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and all Eviction Orders issued by the Landlord and Tenant Board to evict residents from their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic have been suspended unless the Court orders otherwise upon leave being granted to a party by the Court pursuant to the Court’s procedures for an urgent motion. This means, you cannot get evicted for failure to pay rent or your mortgage during this pandemic.

This does not, however, mean that the back-rent or mortgage payments will not be due once the pandemic is over. This measure, therefore, provides temporary relief but should not be relied on as a long-term solution.

If you are a homeowner rather than a renter, many banks are willing to let you skip some mortgage payments without penalty (but the interest keeps accumulating). Talk to your bank about this.

Employment Insurance

The Canadian government has proposed various types of employment insurance to help individuals and businesses during this uncertain time.

1. Regular EI Benefits

If you are an employee and your employer lays you off because of a shortage of work, you can apply for EI. The government is waiving the requirement for your employer to submit a Record of Employment, provided that you indicate in your application that you were laid off because of COVID-19. There is a one-week waiting period following your application for EI.

Note that this does not apply to people who cannot work because they are sick or taking care of a relative or kids. Under new legislation just passed, an employer cannot lay you off for this reason. They have to give you leave, and you can apply for the Emergency Care Benefit or EI Sickness Benefits.

2. Emergency Care Benefit/EI Sickness Benefits

If you cannot work because you are:

  1. sick with COVID-19;
  2. quarantined due to COVID-19;
  3. taking care of a sick family member due to COVID-19; or
  4. have to stay home to take care of kids

then you can access this benefit (even if you are self-employed). This benefit will be available in early April and you will need to confirm every two weeks that you still need it. It will pay up to $900 biweekly for up to 15 weeks.

Alternatively, if you are sick/quarantined with COVID-19 and have enough insurable earnings, you can access EI Sickness Benefits and the one-week waiting period is waived. Like regular EI, this pays 55% of earnings up to $573 a week.

3. Emergency Support Benefits

The Emergency Support Benefit is going to provide financial support to:

  1. laid off workers who do not have enough hours for EI; and
  2. self-employed workers who do not have enough income to work.

Details on this benefit have not been released yet, but it is apparently going to be administered through the CRA and will likely have a simple application process. The amount and duration of benefits has not yet been made public.

4. EI Work Share Program

A small business with 2 or more employees doing the same job that does not have enough work to keep its’ employees on payroll can apply to the EI Work Share Program. The employees have to agree to the program as well, but essentially the employer can reduce the collective workload of the employees up to 60% and EI benefit will cover the reduced hours. The main problem is that the employer needs at least 2 employees with the same job description, the application process is fairly onerous, and it can take up to 30 days to get approval.

5. Small Business Wage Subsidy

This is to help those small businesses who might have a bit of difficulty making payroll but have not had such a severe drop in work that they need to look at the EI Work Share program or layoffs. The government is going to subsidize 10% of the business’ payroll, to a maximum $1357 per employee. Small businesses can access this benefit immediately by reducing its’ tax withholding for its’ employees.

6. Business Credit Availability Program (“BCAP”)

The government is working with lenders to increase the amount of credit available to creditworthy businesses. Talk to your banker to see what lending options might be available.

BDC is also offering:

  • working capital loans of up to $2 million with flexible terms and payment postponements for up to 6 months for qualifying businesses;
  • postponement of payments for up to 6 months, free of charge, for existing BDC clients with total BDC loan commitment of $1 million or less; and,
  • reduced rates on new eligible loans.

Businesses seeking support through BCAP should first contact their financial institutions for an assessment of their situation. Financial institutions will refer their existing clients to EDC and BDC whose needs extend beyond what is available through the private sector alone.

7. Tax Deferrals

Taxes are not due until August 31, 2020. You can still file the return right away to get benefits, but you do not have to pay anything (this includes any instalment payments that you would otherwise owe). Take advantage of this; it is basically an interest-free loan.

8. GST Credits/Canada Child Benefit Credit

If you are currently receiving the GST Credit and/or the Canada Child Benefit Credit, those are being enhanced. If you are eligible for these benefits, make sure to file your tax return on time so you can get them.

Student Loan Freeze

The federal government has frozen student loans and there is no interest accruing for the next 6 months.

Building Permits

Owners/contractors can submit their complete Building Permit Application submission packages with payment (cheque) via courier to the City of Ottawa, Building Code Services, 100 Constellation Drive, Ottawa, ON K2G 6J8. Alternatively, smaller residential applications can be submitted online via buildingpermits@ottawa.ca.

If you have questions about the issuance of a building permit, you may contact Building Code Services at 613-580-2424 ext. 29312 or email at buildingpermits@ottawa.ca.

Building Inspections

The City of Ottawa’s Building Code Services Inspections staff will not enter occupied areas of the following building types for the purposes of carrying out their duties:

  • Personal dwellings, including homes, apartments and condominium units;
  • Long-term care facilities, seniors’ residences and retirement homes;
  • Hospitals; and,
  • Daycare facilities.

Permit holders are encouraged to speak directly with their assigned inspector regarding options for an in-person inspection.

We understand that this is a troubling and uncertain time for many individuals and businesses. For any questions, please reach out to one of the construction or civil litigation lawyers at ABB to see how we can assist you.

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