Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) – Effect On Our Family, Immigration & Wills Practices

March 26th, 2020 by

When in December 2019 Dr Li Wenliang alerted his colleagues of a virus he thought looked like the other coronaviruses (e.g. Sars) it is unlikely that even he would have predicted the circumstances that the world has found itself in today. Sadly, the doctor passed away early last month after he contracted the disease, while treating patients in Wuhan, China. We have now come to call the novel Coronavirus Disease, “COVID-19”. On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization (“WHO”) characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. Two weeks later, with the number of confirmed cases and deaths from the disease increasing in various parts of the world, governments and their agencies and the public are now using technology to engage in business operations while maintaining responsible social distancing.

The government of Canada has provided the public with resources to help combat COVID-19 at https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html

As of March 23, 2020, 6:00 p.m. EDT the official confirmed number of COVID-19 in Canada was 1,646, after 107,147 people having been tested. We know that we must do our part to reduce the likelihood that our healthcare system becomes overwhelmed with too many new cases all at once. As such there have been several areas of legal practice that has changed or been delayed until further notice. The province of Ontario has made certain declarations of which our clients should therefore be aware.

Family Law

All family trials previously scheduled between Friday March 20, 2020 and Friday May 29, 2020 are suspended, subject to a judge seized with a continuing matter ordering otherwise.

All non-urgent matters, including trials, are adjourned for 8-12 weeks. Details of the new schedules would be provided at a later date.

All onsite family mediation and information services are being suspended until further notice. Where possible these services may be offered remotely, including online or by phone.

Immigration Law

Canada is currently denying boarding to most foreign nationals, on flights to Canada coming from all countries. Only Canadian citizens, Canadian permanent residents, or their immediate family members, who show none of the symptoms of COVID-19 will be allowed to board, and all travellers will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry into Canada.

Travel across the Canada–US border Canada is temporarily restricted for all non-essential travel across, including by Canadian citizens, permanent residents wishing to return to Canada.

Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (“IRB”) front offices are closed until further notice. All in-person hearings and mediations, except detention reviews are postponed until after May 3, 2020.

The processing times for all applications to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) may experience disruptions caused by the COVID-19.

Estate Planning

Given that the Succession Law Reform Act which governs how a Will has to be executed in order to be valid requires that the testator and witnesses be “in the presence of” each other, while signing the document, we will not be having any virtual estate planning appointments. This requirement has been held to mean that all parties are in the same room at the time of signing. We are not in a position to witness the signatures virtually.

We are however able to set up remote video consultations with potential Estate Planning clients.

Our lawyers would be in touch with our clients that have matters scheduled during this relevant period. Client meetings with our lawyers remain available via telephone and other online tools.


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Changes to Citizenship Program

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Immigration Toronto Bail Program

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Childrens’ March Break Travel to Canada

February 18th, 2017 by

With the March school holidays only five weeks away, parents are starting to turn their minds to travel plans that fill this week for many children. While this obviously involves Canadian children traveling abroad to visit family, it also sees overseas-based children entering Canada to spend time with a parent and siblings/step-siblings residing here.

All persons below the age of 18 are considered minors under Canadian immigration law. Minors entering Canada who lack the proper documentation outlined below will be closely checked by Canadian Border Services Agency officials and may potentially be denied entry into Canada. Firstly, all minors need to possess their own valid passport as a parent’s passport is insufficient, even if the child’s details are included in it. If a child is arriving without both parents or their legal guardian, a copy of their birth certificate and a letter of authorization (preferably in English or French) are also required.

The required contents of such a letter differ depending on who the child is entering Canada with. If arriving alone, the letter of authorization should be signed by both parents (or legal guardian) and list the parents’ (or guardian’s) address and telephone number and the name, address and telephone number of the adult who will be looking after the child in Canada.

If the minor is entering with only one parent, the letter of authorization should be signed by the other parent and list their address and telephone number, as well as have attached a photocopy of this non-accompanying parent’s passport. Where the accompanying parent is separated or divorced and shares custody of the child, a copy of the legal custody documents is also required. If the parent traveling with the child enjoys sole custody, then the letter can be signed solely by this accompanying parent but a copy of the custody documents must be presented. If however, a child is entering Canada with only one parent because the other is deceased, the traveling parent should carry a copy of the relevant death certificate.

Children arriving in Canada with a legal guardian or adoptive parents should have copies of their relevant guardianship or adoption papers. In the case where minors are traveling with adults that are neither their parents or guardians, a letter of authorization is required permitting the child to enter Canada which is signed by their parents or legal guardian along with the address and telephone numbers where they can be reached. Although this letter need not be certified, a photocopy of the parents’ or legal guardian’s passport must be attached.

To make sure children traveling to Canada to spend time with family during the March school holidays period are permitted entry, obtaining the necessary supporting documents including a letter of authorization with the correct content and signatures is imperative. Although organizing this documentation may make travel here slightly more burdensome, it serves the important task of ensuring minors are able to successfully enter Canada for their visit.