Lawyers and paralegals included under Ontario's list of "essential services"
On March 23, 2020, Ontario Premier, Doug Ford, ordered the temporary closure of non-essential businesses, as the province attempts to manage the spread of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
When the list of "essential" workplaces in Ontario was later made public by the government, we learned that immigration practitioners appear to be exempted from the temporary shutdown. In particular, the list includes the following:
61. Professional and social services that support the legal and justice system
65. Professional services including lawyers and para-legals, engineers, accountants, translators
While it is clear that the offices of Ontario lawyers and paralegals are considered essential workplaces under this classification, it is less clear whether the offices of Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) also fall under these exemptions. Arguably, even if they are not listed under exception # 65, they could well be included under "professional services that support the legal and justice system" (#61).
Regardless of whether immigration practitioners can keep their physical offices open, everyone should strive to work remotely as much as possible, and encourage their staff to do so. Luckily, many immigration practitioners have developed an efficient infrastructure to interact with clients remotely, given that they live all around the world. This has made the transition from the office to a home office easier for some.