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Safe Hearings: Key Issues and Principles

November 2022

CCB safe hearing strategy:
  1. Membership: statement of principles, on-going education
  2. Facilities: universal precautions, follow-up on locations/ issues of concern
  3. Stakeholders: clear direction on process
  4. Reassess and revise as necessary
  • All participants in a hearing are entitled to feel safe. All are expected to contribute to a safe hearing environment.
  • All parties appearing before the Board are entitled to procedural fairness which includes the right to fully participate in the hearing.
  • No person who comes before the Board is presumed to present a safety concern to other hearing participants.
  • If safety precautions are imposed in a hearing, they will be imposed in a manner that is least restrictive and least onerous in the circumstances.
  • A panel’s decision following a motion to impose safety precautions will not be relied upon, utilized or viewed as evidence when considering the legal criteria for the application before it.
Universal Precautions in Control of the Panel:

Much of what a hearing panel already does creates a safe space for hearings. Awareness and responsiveness by the entire panel is necessary to enhance hearing safety.

  • Ensuring all participants are treated with dignity and respect
  • A clear explanation of the process at the outset and reminders as necessary (particularly about opportunity to speak)
  • Ensuring the perception of impartiality and fairness
  • Recognition of challenges facing some who appear and accommodating these
  • Awareness of the participants throughout
  • Breaks as required
  • Being alert to potentially troubling evidence or triggers
  • Responding to high level emotions in a manner that de-escalates the situation
No Contact Orders, Bail Conditions:

Periodically, participants in a hearing may be precluded from contact or communication by an order or condition. Each case will be managed on its own facts and arrangements may be made to ensure all participants feel safe. In appropriate cases a hearing may proceed in-writing or special arrangements may be made for testimony.

Parties/ participants are responsible for seeking appropriate variation in orders or conditions such that they are not in violation by participating in a Board hearing.

Any such orders should be brought to the Board’s attention as soon as possible.


When an issue arises in advance of the hearing a party may contact the Board Office or raise the concern as a preliminary issue. At any point throughout a hearing an issue may be raised by any party or by the panel. Safety precautions will be used until the issue is resolved. Significant weight should be given to the expert information of the treating team although some evidentiary basis for the request must be provided and considered. All persons are entitled to feel safe and when they do, it creates an environment for the best hearing. A person’s fear need not be “reasonable” before precautions are ordered. It is anticipated that the threshold for imposing safety precautions will be significantly lower than the evidentiary burden for the substance of the application itself (for example if involuntary status is at issue). As such, a panel should consider the evidence of a safety risk and ensure it meets a reasonable threshold to justify any imposed safety precautions.

If an agreement cannot be reached, the party raising a safety concern will be entitled to an adjournment to address the concern with the Chair’s Office.

Case Specific Safety Precautions may include:
  • Recesses or adjournments
  • Attendance of medical staff inside/ outside room off camera/ on camera?
  • Attendance of security staff inside/ outside room
  • Attendance of police (typically only in community settings)
  • Use of restraints
  • Participation without a camera by a party or witness (electronically)
  • Muting the microphone of one or more participants, or turning off video capacity (electronically)
  • Removal from the hearing (limited if possible)
  • Other measures or combinations of measures that are suitable for the specific circumstance
  • In some cases, security measures will be imposed by corrections, police or other body with detention authority.


If a critical incident occurs:
  • Obtain medical/ police services as necessary.
  • Co-operate with police and/ or security personnel.
  • Contact the Chair’s Office as soon as it is practical to do so.
  • With the exceptions stated above, all Board members will protect the confidentiality and dignity of the persons involved.