Office of the Umpire


The Unemployment Insurance appeal process in Canada was managed by the Office of the Umpire and utilized retired Federal Court judges. As the backlog of unheard cases increased HRSDC and the Government of Canada was looking for a new solution to provide the same level of importance to the process participants while speeding up the overall flow of cases and reducing the considerable backlog of cases.

Videotelephony studied the process and duplicated the required decorum and procedures in a brand new videoconferencing design. But yielding a technology solution, even a perfect one, was not enough. The assignment of hearing locations was a key management tool to administer retired Federal court judges and a videoconferencing solution was a potential threat to that tried and true system. Once this key element was understood, the videoconferencing hearing was represented as a viable option to long travel destinations and quickly became a positive incentive tool for retired Federal Court judges.

The technology performed perfectly from one coast to another over 1,000s of miles. We knew we had a winner when a judge in Ottawa nodded to a lawyer in Yellowknife, and the proceedings began like everyone was in the room.

The backlog was eliminated in 6 months and a new way of conducting legal proceedings over distance, and motivating participants, was created.

This project won the gold Award of Excellence at GTEC for all government projects, and the gold Award of Excellence at the all government and industry CIPA awards. The first two of four awards were given to Videotelephony.