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As the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) resumes holding in-person hearings, important COVID-19 health and safety measures have been put in place to protect hearing room participants, employees and visitors.
Before your hearing: All parties appearing before the IRB will be required to complete a self-assessment questionnaire, first when they receive the Notice to Appear and then again upon arrival at IRB offices. This will assess:
- whether you or someone you live with display any symptoms or
- if you have been in contact with someone who has recently been diagnosed with COVID-19.
If you test positive for COVID-19 in the 2 weeks following your in-person hearing please ensure that you let local public health officials know that you visited the IRB.
You do not need to inform public health officials of the reason you were at the IRB.
What to expect when you arrive for your hearing
You must arrive 30 minutes before the hearing start time indicated on your Notice to Appear.
When you arrive, physical distancing measures will be in place:
- Non-medical masks are required in all public spaces and will be available upon request. Masks must adhere to
guidelines set forth by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), which specify that masks must:
- be made of at least 3 layers
- fit securely, allow for easy breathing, and not require frequent adjustment; and
- be large enough to cover the nose, smouth and chin.
- If you are exempt from wearing a mask (see the list of exemptions below), please
contact the applicable division in your region before attending your hearing so appropriate arrangements can be made in advance.
- Always keep a 2 metre (6 feet) physical distance between yourself and others.
- Follow directional floor markings, wall signs, and any instructions provided to you by IRB employees and security guards.
- All public spaces will be sanitized frequently throughout the day.
All visitors will be asked to complete a
self-assessment questionnaire upon arrival.
People who are exempt from wearing a mask or face covering
- Children under the age of 2.
- Individuals with a medical condition that makes it difficult to wear a mask. This can include but is not limited to:
- Medical condition, mental health condition, cognitive condition or disability that prevents wearing a mask or face covering.
- Medical condition that makes it difficult to breathe.
- People who are hearing impaired or are communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, and where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
- Individuals who are unable to put on or remove a mask without assistance.
- Individuals requiring accommodation in accordance with the
Canadian Human Rights Act.
Entering the Building
- Follow all instructions on your way toward the elevators or hearing room.
- Safety measures, such as limiting the number of people, will be in place. Please follow all signs and instructions on the use of elevators.
- For everyone’s safety, elevators will be sanitized regularly.
Floor lobbies, hallways and waiting rooms
- Once you arrive at the location of your hearing, you will be required to line up and present your identification.
- You will be asked by the security guard to sanitize your hands after completing the health questionnaire. Your body temperature may also be monitored by a non-contact infrared camera.
- Your hearing may be rescheduled if you don’t meet the minimal security screening requirements or if the infrared camera detects that you have an above normal body temperature.
- A security guard may escort you or provide you with directions to the registration desk and/or hearing room. Remember to follow the directional floor markings and maintain physical distancing. Follow all directions provided by registration desk employees when providing or completing documentation.
- Based on experience and feedback from stakeholders and partners, the IRB is resuming in-person hearings with members and interpreters in the same hearing room as counsel and clients. For some hearings involving more participants, the hearing may proceed in two separate hearing rooms joined by videoconference.
- As of Monday, September 14th, non-medical masks must be worn at all times in hearing rooms, including when testifying or providing submissions, subject to exemptions. Individuals who wish to be exempted should raise their request with the presiding member.
- Hearing rooms are sanitized before your hearing starts and again after you leave.
- The security guard will escort you to the hearing room and guide you to your seat.
- Inside the hearing room distancing measures are in place. Plexiglass barriers have been installed in all hearing rooms. Audio devices in hearing rooms have been reconfigured to allow for better recording. Speak clearly and loudly so the decision-maker is able to hear you through the barriers.
- At the discretion of the presiding member, individuals participating in a hearing may be asked to remove a mask temporarily - for example, to clarify an audio issue - in order to ensure a full and proper hearing.
- Please sanitize your hands when entering and leaving the hearing room. Hand sanitizer dispensers will be available at the entrances and on the table.
- Once the hearing is completed, the security guard will ask you to exit the hearing room and leave the building as soon as possible by following the directional markings. You must ensure you have your mask on.
Public washrooms and water fountains
- The number of people using washrooms at one time will be limited. Follow all signs and instructions.
- Please ensure to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom.
- Water fountains with disposable cups will be available for use and will be sanitised on a regular basis. Bring your own water bottle if you are not comfortable.