Laws to Combat Covid-19
The Canadian government is taking strict actions to stop the spread of the coronavirus and with it many legal powers come to the fore. It is worth noting that in situations such as this there is legislation to be used as a safety-net. The extent to which these laws must be enforced is unknown at this time but here are a few that have come into force and some that may in the nearby future.
The province of Ontario has declared a state of emergency resulting in the closure of restaurants, bars, daycare, etc. Essentials services – such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and manufacturing facilities – will remain open at this point. The goal of these measures is to encourage “social distancing” that will hopefully slow down the spread and overall damage the virus causes to our society.
On the federal level, the Quarantine Act is designed to control the disease around the nation. This has resulted in the closure of the border to most non-essential travelers and the implementation of screening measures to those that enter.
Also on the federal level there is the Emergencies Act that enables the government to prohibit movement within the country itself (i.e. across provinces). This prohibition has yet to be enforced strictly as of yet, but government officials have not ruled it out completely.
On the provincial level, there is the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act that allows for a state of emergency to be declared if “a situation or an impending situation that constitutes a danger of major proportions that could result in serious harm to persons or substantial damage to property and that is caused by the force of nature, disease, an accident, or an act whether intentional or otherwise”. The state of emergency typically lasts for a period of 14 days, however it may be extended by the Lieutenant Governor of the relevant province for an additional 14 days if need be.
Also on the provincial level there is the Health Protection and Promotion Act may also be enforced that enables public health authorities to order the isolation of those individuals who may be carriers. This power has not yet officially been enforced.
For the full text of the legislation mentioned, see: