Observing a Hearing
Individuals who wish to attend a hearing as an observer must submit an application to the Ontario Parole Board (OPB).
It is recommended that an observer application be submitted to the OPB 15 business days in advance of the hearing date. The Board may deny a request if there is not enough time to process the application.
If you are interested in attending a specific parole hearing and would like to know the date, format and location of the hearing, please email OPBRegistrar@ontario.ca.
Approving or Denying an Observer Application
When deciding whether to approve or deny an observer application, the Board will consider the following factors:
- The views of the Superintendent of the institution at which the hearing is scheduled to be held;
- The victims' views, if a victim is attending;
- The Ministry of Correctional Services Act emphasizes the need to preserve the confidentiality of information that is presented at OPB hearings, as well as the sources of that information. The following factors will be considered when determining whether a person should be granted observer status:
- Is the matter subject to a publication ban?
- Does the matter involve a victim, witness or offender who is a minor?
- Was the offence sexual in nature?
- Does the matter involve a confidential informer?
- The parole applicant's views;
- The Elder's views if the parole applicant has requested a Circle Hearing;
- Whether the proposed observer's presence might disrupt the hearing process; and
- The reasons for the request to observe.
Safety and Security
In some cases, observers may not be permitted to attend an in-person hearing for safety or security reasons or if there is insufficient time to arrange for a hearing.
Observers are responsible for providing the Board with documentation of security clearance (criminal record check) through their local police service. In the case of an in-person hearing, if security clearance is not complete, admittance into the institution will be denied.
If an observer is unable to obtain a criminal record check due to Human Rights Code-related barriers, approval will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Ministry of the Solicitor General (SOLGEN) staff and Tribunals Ontario staff already have security clearance for employment purposes, and do not need to provide additional documentation when requesting observer status.
Observers are not permitted to participate in the parole hearing in any way, and cannot bring a camera or recording device of any kind to the hearing.
Observers may be asked to leave the hearing room if sensitive information is being discussed, or if the observer is disrupting the hearing process.
Observing a Circle Hearing
The Board is committed to providing culturally-appropriate services to parole applicants who identify as Indigenous. In line with this commitment, the Board offers Circle Hearings at an applicant's request. Circle Hearings proceed according to Indigenous cultural protocols.
The Elder is responsible for facilitating the Circle Hearing process. Observers are expected to respect the protocols of a Circle Hearing, as set out by the Elder.
If the Board approves an observer application, the observer will be notified. If the Board denies an observer application, it will provide written reasons for doing so to the proposed observer. The decision is final, and there is no review or appeal to the Board.
Approval to attend a hearing is specific to that hearing, and any additional requests to attend must also be approved. Approval to observe a hearing may be revoked at any time and for any reason, including if the Board receives new information that may have affected its decision to grant the observer application.
Submitting an Application
Please download and fill out the following application form:
The application form can be submitted to OPB by email or mail:Email: OPBRegistrar@ontario.ca
PO Box 250
Toronto, ON, M7A1N3