COVID-19 Court Ordered Interpreters

UPDATED  JULY 6, 2020 


When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, Court Operations transitioned to having the majority of matters requiring a Court interpreter conducted over the telephone, either using a local interpreter or LanguageLine.

The Provincial Court plan is to resume business on July 6, 2020. The following plan has been developed keeping in mind the right to an interpreter is a Charter right, the challenges of social distancing for interpreters in Alberta courtrooms, and the importance of protecting the health and safety of interpreters and all persons working in or attending the Court while maintaining access to justice.

Court Resumption Guidelines for Interpreters 

Upon the Court resuming operations on July 6, 2020, the following guidelines will apply:

An interpreter who experiences symptoms at the time of booking or thereafter should not be physically present at the courthouse and should advise the coordinator as soon as possible.

Where an interpreter is required for a summary disposition hearing (including sentencing), trial or other type of hearing, a local interpreter will be scheduled to appear:

  1. by attending the local courthouse and appearing remotely into the scheduled courtroom by using the ‘child/vulnerable witness room’ or a conference room equipped with videoconferencing technology; or
  2. from their residence using Webex, or a similar program, and appearing remotely into the scheduled courtroom; or
  3. by telephone.

If it is not possible for a local interpreter to appear, an interpreter will be contacted using LanguageLine, to appear by videoconferencing (41 languages available – see attached) or by telephone.

Upon resumption of circuit court sittings and regional courts, interpreters will be scheduled to appear by one of the following means:

  1. by attending the local base courthouse and appearing remotely into the scheduled circuit courtroom by using:
    • a courtroom at the base court,
    • the ‘child/vulnerable witness room’, or
    • a conference room that has videoconferencing technology;
  2. by Webex, or a similar videoconferencing program from their residence, appearing remotely into the scheduled circuit courtroom;
  3. by telephone; or
  4. by videoconference or telephone through LanguageLine.

Any room in a courthouse which is used to provide interpreter services will be equipped with hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes/spray and gloves. Interpreter will sanitize their own space prior to commencing court and after court is finished.  

Interpreters who are scheduled to appear in person in court will receive detailed instructions of the safety measures in place as well as this protocol.

The means by which an interpreter appears does not affect the principles of interpretation required under s. 14 of the Charter including that it is generally preferable that interpretation be consecutive.

Scheduling Procedure 

In Calgary and Edmonton:


Court ordered interpreters will continue to be scheduled through the Interpreter Scheduling Unit. Once the Interpreter Scheduling Unit receives the request from the Court, the Interpreter Scheduling Coordinator will book a videoconference room within the local courthouse. The Interpreter Scheduling Coordinator will then send the Booking Request to the interpreters.  Once an interpreter has been booked, they will be advised of where to check-in and which videoconference room they will be using.  Upon confirmation of the videoconference room and interpreter booking, the Interpreter Scheduling Coordinator will notify the appropriate court of the room and interpreter details.

In exceptional circumstances and subject to the Court’s discretion, interpreters may be permitted to interpret remotely as long as the appropriate technology is available

In Regional Courts:

Court ordered interpreters will continue to be scheduled locally by the local courthouse Manager or Judicial Clerk. The Manager/Judicial Clerk will confirm videoconference room availability; and then proceed to book the interpreter. 

Any questions or concerns should be directed to:

Provincial Court Pandemic Plan - COVID19