New Court Notices in response to Winnipeg’s new Code Red Designation

All three levels of court have released notices regarding new measures due to the new spread of cases in Winnipeg.

Notice – All Hearings of the Court of Appeal will be conducted remotely until further Notice (November 2, 2020) – starting on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 all appeals will be heard remotely by videoconferencing; and all motions or applications will be heard remotely by teleconferencing. Instructions for accessing teleconference and videoconference are included.

Additionally, “precautions will be put in place by Sheriff Services, which includes enhanced COVID screening questions and temperature screening for all members of the public and court stakeholders, including counsel,upon entry to the Law Courts Building.”

Notice – Additional Measures in respect of attendance at the Law Courts Complex (November 2, 2020) – Details and clarifies the measures that the Queen’s Bench has been taking to reduce transmission of COVID. Also explains the additional measures by Sheriff Services upon entering the Law Courts Buildings.

Notice – COVID-19 – Update (November 2, 2020) – Explains new precautions by Sheriff Services. “will continue to hear both in custody and out of custody matters in all of the major court centres and the circuits which remain open. All existing protocols remain in force.” It will also be reassessing protocols on a weekly basis.


For a list of all notices and practice directions related to COVID-19 visit manitobacourts.mb.ca/covid-19/.

New Notice and Practice Directives

Provincial Court

Re: Covid-19 Suspension and Re-Opening Of Additional Courts (September 28, 2020)

Following a previous notice, courts will not be re-opening in God’s Lake Narrows in October. They will also not be re-opening in Garden Hill for local reasons.

The courts will re-turn to sitting in Altona, Arborg, Ashern and Lundar, and is sitting in Easterville. There is no confirmed date for Pukatawagan.

Beginning October 1, 2020, the Provincial Court of Manitoba will hear in-custody and out of custody trials and out of custody dispositions in the communities of: Altona, Arborg, Ashern, and Lundar.

Health protocols are in effect in these areas and the courts are asking any one with symptoms to not come to court. More details and updates are included in the full notice.

All Courts

Notice to the Profession (September 28, 2020)

Under the new Manitoba Health protocol, those that have come into contact with an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 while in the courts will now be notified. Members of the profession will not be informed of every potential exposure in the courthouse. A reminder that masks are required at all time while in the courthouse, except, when in a courtroom, the presiding judge stipulates otherwise.


For a list of all notices and practice directions related to COVID-19 visit manitobacourts.mb.ca/covid-19/

SCC Historical Visit: Part #2 – The Supreme Court of Canada Blazes a New Trail in Winnipeg

by Alissa Schacter
Equity Officer and Policy Counsel, The Law Society of Manitoba

The country’s highest court exhibited boldness and initiative in its decision to sit outside of Ottawa for the first time in its 145-year history. Winnipeg had the great honour of hosting the nine Supreme Court judges during the last week of September.

The justices took up temporary residence in the Manitoba Court of Appeal. In addition to hearing a criminal and civil appeal, they had a jam packed schedule, which included meeting local high school students and law students, attending a reception with Mayor Bowman, hosting a Q&A event for the public at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, attending a presentation of sacred eagle feathers to the Manitoba courts, meeting with representatives of First Nations, Métis, and Francophone communities as well as with Executive members of the Law Society and Manitoba Bar Association. Chief Justice Richard Wagner even managed to make time to drop the puck at a Jets game. The justices were the guests of honour at a gala dinner attended by approximately 800 members of Manitoba’s legal profession. They mingled with the crowd in the packed foyer of the Convention Centre and played musical chairs, doing an admirable job of rubbing elbows with as many members of the bar as possible. Throughout the week, there was a palpable excitement in the air within the legal community, as their presence carried an aura of celebrity. Even beyond the legal community, many people took a keen interest and attended the hearings and the public events, which was exactly the point of the Court’s visit.

The Winnipeg visit was part of a broader commitment the Supreme Court has made to access to justice. The court has established an active presence on Twitter and Facebook, and in March 2018, it began posting plain language case summaries on its website. All of these initiatives are intended to help the public better understand the role of the Court and its decisions. As the Supreme Court presides over cases involving some of the most important social policy issues of our time, from same sex marriage and the right to assisted dying to delineating Indigenous rights, it has a hand in shaping Canada’s social fabric. It is imperative that the Canadian public understand the function of the Court so that they have confidence in our justice system. This is critical at a time when people increasingly obtain news and information in easy-to-digest nuggets via diffuse social media platforms, not all of which are reliable.

When the nine esteemed Supreme Court jurists hailing from around the country travelled to Winnipeg and spent the week meeting with a cross section of the legal and broader communities, they revealed their personalities, their senses of humour, their genuine curiosity about the local community and of course, their humanity. They put a human face on the Supreme Court and sent a powerful message that the Court wants to understand the people it serves and make itself more transparent and accessible to them. It also demonstrated the Court’s awareness of its need to adapt to the changing context in which it operates and to modernize its approach.

As in most endeavours, you create trust by fostering greater mutual understanding and building relationships. That is exactly what the nine judges did during their time in Winnipeg. Canada’s Supreme Court has long been venerated around the world. When the Court left its grand building on Wellington Street to head west to the Prairies, it also increased its profile and esteem among Canadians.