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Witness Guide

Some of the words and terms used in this Guide are explained in the Tribunal’s Glossary

In addition, the Guide to the Tribunal Process provides more information about the Tribunal and our hearings.

What is a witness?

Witnesses are people who have relevant information about the issues the Tribunal must decide and who are asked to testify in the hearing.

What is a Summons to Witness?

Parties will often serve witnesses with a Summons to Witness, although it’s not required to appear as a witness before the Tribunal.

The summons to witness tells you where the hearing is being held, when you must attend to give evidence, the name of the physician who is the party to the hearing and the name of the person who summonsed you. If the hearing is held by videoconference, it will include the connection information. It may also include a list of things or documents you must bring when you testify.

You may wish to show the summons to your employer if you need to arrange time off.

If you are summonsed, you are entitled to an attendance allowance of $50 for every day you must attend to testify, a travel allowance and, if you have to stay overnight, an overnight accommodation and meal allowance. You should receive these allowances from the party that summonsed you when you are served.

What if I cannot attend on the hearing date?

If you were properly served with a summons you must attend the hearing at the required day and time or face legal consequences for failing to appear. If you have a scheduling conflict, speak to the person who summonsed you about alternative arrangements as soon as possible.

What can I expect if I am a witness in a hearing?

You may be allowed to sit and watch the hearing until it is your turn to testify. However, witnesses are often “excluded” from the hearing until they complete their testimony. That prevents a witness from being influenced by the testimony of others. If a witness exclusion order is made, you will be asked to leave the hearing room (if the hearing is in person) or to wait in a virtual waiting room (if the hearing is by videoconference). When it is your turn to testify, you will be invited into the hearing.

The hearing panel is made up of five members, one of whom, the Chair, is responsible for managing the hearing. The lawyer or lawyers representing CPSO, the physician and the physician’s lawyers, unless self-represented, will be in the hearing room. A court reporter is who is responsible for making the transcript of the hearing is also present. There may also be members of the public sitting in the hearing room or watching remotely.

Before you start to testify, the Chair will ask you to promise to tell the truth.

The lawyer who asked you to attend the hearing will ask you questions. The lawyer for the other party may also ask you questions — this is called “cross-examination.” Either lawyer may show you documents and ask you questions about them. The panel members may also ask you questions.

If one of the parties makes an objection about a question wait for the panel to decide before answering. You may be asked to leave the room while the objection is discussed.

When you complete your testimony, the Chair will excuse you. If there was an order excluding witnesses, you must not talk about your testimony with anyone. You may choose to leave or to observe the rest of the hearing.

What if I require accommodation?

The Tribunal provides accommodation to hearing participants where required by the Human Rights Code. Please tell us about your accommodation request as soon as possible. You may be asked for documentation to support your request.

Under the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure, the panel may make orders to support vulnerable witnesses, It can order that a support person sit near a witness, that a witness testify from outside the hearing room or behind a screen or that a lawyer cross-examine the witness rather than a self-represented physician. If you would like to take advantage of one of these supports, you should first speak to the lawyer for the party that called you as a witness.

What is an expert witness?

An expert witness provides opinion evidence based on their specialized training and experience. They must be impartial and complete the OPSDT’s Form 7, acknowledging their duty to be fair and impartial. The other party may challenge the expert’s qualifications or impartiality. The Tribunal decides whether to accept the expert as a witness and the scope of their expert testimony.