Manitoba declares a state of emergency – COVID-19
The Government of Manitoba announced on March 21, 2020 that it was declaring a state of emergency in response to COVID-19. This order was extended on April 20th and May 17th, 2020. Under section 10 of The Emergency Measures Act, the government may declare a state of emergency in respect to all or any part of the province in the event of a major emergency or disaster. A declaration is valid for a period of 30 days beginning on the day the declaration is made. The duration can be extended for further periods of up to 30 days each.
Current measures implemented by the Manitoba government
Pursuant to section 67 of The Public Health Act, the Manitoba Government has issued a number of public health orders. A new public health order issued on May 21, 2020 increases gathering sizes to 25 people at any indoor premise, and 50 people at any outdoor premise where members of the public are reasonably able to maintain a separation of at least two metres from others. The order takes effect on May 22, 2020.
The order continues to allow the implementation of Phase One of the province’s plan to safely restore services in Manitoba as outlined in Restoring Safe Services: Manitoba’s Pandemic Economic Recovery Roadmap.
This includes restaurant patios, hair salons, dental offices, retail stores and museums. These businesses must adhere to certain rules and restrictions to prevent a future surge of COVID-19. Please see the order for a complete list of the businesses and services that can currently reopen and the conditions applicable to those businesses and services.
A business that is not listed in a schedule must be closed from May 22, 2020, to June 1st, 2020. Nothing in the order prevents a business that is not on the list from operating remotely, which includes providing goods by delivery or making goods available for pick-up, or providing services online, by telephone or other remote means. Temporary access to a closed place of business is authorized for certain limited purposes, such as dealing with critical matters relating to the closure of the business or allowing for repairs or security services to be provided.
The current orders also mandate that anyone entering Manitoba, regardless of whether it was from another country or another province must self-isolate for 14 days. There are exceptions for certain workers and for normal personal travel in border communities. In addition, travel to northern Manitoba (north of the 53rd parallel of latitude) is prohibited, with some exceptions.
Powers under The Emergency Measures Act
Pursuant to subsection 12(1) of The Emergency Measures Act, the government has the following emergency powers and can order any of the following things during a state of emergency:
- Cause emergency plans to be implemented;
- Use property considered necessary to prevent, combat or alleviate the effects of any emergency or disaster;
- Authorize or require any qualified person to render aid;
- Control, permit or prohibit travel to or from any area or on any road, street or highway;
- Evacuate persons and remove livestock and personal property, and make arrangements for their adequate care and protection;
- Control or prevent the movement of people and the removal of livestock from any designated area that may have a contaminating disease;
- Authorize the entry into any building, or upon any land without a warrant;
- Cause the demolition or removal of any structure in order to prevent, combat or alleviate the effects of an emergency or a disaster;
- Authorize the procurement and distribution of essential resources and the provision of essential services;
- Regulate the distribution and availability of essential goods, services and resources;
- Provide for the restoration of essential facilities, the distribution of essential supplies and the maintenance and co-ordination of emergency medical, social and other essential services;
- Expend such sums as are necessary to pay expenses caused by the emergency or disaster.
On April 15th, 2020, the Province passed a Bill (Bill 54) to amend The Emergency Measures Act and give the province the power to make “"any order" it considers necessary and essential "to prevent, reduce, or mitigate serious harm or substantial damage to persons or property or the effects of fiscal or economic disruption." The Act now also prohibits price-gouging during emergencies by allowing the province to set fixed prices for necessary goods, services and resources.
Pursuant to section 90 of The Public Health Act, persons found guilty of an offence can face a fine of up to $50,000 and/or imprisonment for a term of up to six months. For corporations, the fines increase by up to $500,000 per offence. If a person fails to comply with an emergency health hazard order or a public health emergency order under the Act, they can face a fine of up to $100,000 and/or imprisonment for a term of up to a year. For corporations, the fines increase to $1,000,000.00.
The province has also amended the Preset Fines and Offence Descriptions Regulation to allow enforcement officers to issue tickets with set fines for failure to comply with the emergency orders under The Public Health Act. Fine amounts are set at $486 for tickets issued to individuals, including sole proprietorships and partnerships, and $2,542 for tickets issued to corporations.
The April 15th, 2020 amendments to The Emergency Measures Act also increased penalties under that Act. For individuals, the penalties are increased to a maximum of $100,000 or one year imprisonment, or both. For corporations, the penalties are increased to a maximum of $1,000,000. The penalty for a breach of an evacuation order is increased to $500,000 (from $50,000).
Other emergency legislation in Canada
The Federal Emergencies Act authorizes the federal government to take special temporary measures to ensure safety and security during national emergencies. As of this writing, the federal government has not declared a federal emergency over COVID-19.
Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have all called states of emergency over COVID-19, while Alberta, Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories, Quebec, Yukon, Nunavut and Newfoundland and Labrador all have declared public health emergencies.
As the Manitoba Government response to COVID-19 is continuously evolving, we encourage individuals and businesses to stay informed.
Please do not hesitate to contact your relationship partner or lawyer if you have any questions or if we can be of assistance in guiding you through these new challenges.
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This article represents general information and is not legal advice. Please contact us if you would like legal advice that is tailored to your particular circumstances. We would be happy to help.