March 13, 2020
As concern about COVID-19 in Canada grows, insolvency practitioners may be asked or may decide it is necessary to take steps to reduce in-person contact. The OSB will support Licensed Insolvency Trustees (LITs) in these efforts, while maintaining the integrity of Canada’s insolvency system.
The OSB encourages LITs to make use of the considerable flexibilities that exist in Superintendent’s Directives when determining which measures may be appropriate, in light of the pandemic. The OSB will also be more flexible in scheduling debtor exams, mediations and Trustee Office Visits.
LITs may consider the following options to support social distancing:
- Assessments - Directive 6R3 provides for the use of methods other than in-person assessments in extraordinary circumstances. The OSB recognizes the COVID-19 pandemic is an extraordinary circumstance and, until further notice, no separate approval will be required to conduct assessments using methods other than in-person. Where video-conferencing is not feasible, assessments may be performed via a combination of telephone discussion and email for document receipt.
- Insolvency Counselling - Directive 1R5 allows LITs or their registered counsellors to provide counselling via videoconference. Upcoming amendments to the Directive will also allow registered counsellors to provide counselling over the telephone, when other means are not possible. Registered insolvency counsellors may begin providing insolvency counselling by telephone now, as needed. LITs should delay filing the Reports of Counselling Sessions until the OSB’s eFiling system and LITs’ insolvency software packages are updated to accept this (eFiling changes are anticipated for April 1, 2020).
- Meetings of Creditors – recently updated Directive 22R2 encourages the Chair of a meeting of creditors to make every reasonable effort to hold creditors meetings by electronic or digital means of communication. The chair of the meeting may rely on representations by attendees to confirm their identification.
- Signatures and Oaths: LITs are encouraged to exchange documents that require signature via email, or other electronic means, and provide debtors the necessary support to explain the documents via videoconference or over the phone or as otherwise required. LITs should obtain the original signed copies to add to their records as soon as practical. LITs should explore legal methods for the witnessing of signatures and swearing of oaths. Verification of identity remains a crucial step.
Any questions should be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.