COVID-19: Designated Essential Service Providers and Liability for Damages

On April 3, 2020, the BC government issued a Ministerial Order designating essential services in British Columbia. In doing so, the government ordered non-essential services to cease operating.

Designated essential service providers cannot be held liable for damages caused by exposure to COVID-19 while a state of emergency is in place. Such providers are protected from liability on the condition that they operate in accordance with all emergency and public health guidance.

Employers will not be protected from liability if they acted with gross negligence (extreme indifference for the safety of others which is likely to cause foreseeable harm)

List of Some COVID-19 Essential Services:

  • Health and health services
  • Law enforcement, public safety, first responders and emergency response personnel
  • Vulnerable population services providers
  • Critical infrastructure
  • Food and agriculture service providers
  • Transportation
  • Industry and manufacturing
  • Sanitation
  • Communications and information technology
  • Financial institutions
  • Coroners and workers performing mortuary services
  • Plumbers/electricians/property management services
  • Construction work
    Etc.

List of Orders made by the Provincial Health Officer:

  1. Movement Limitation of Long T erm Care Facility Staff – March 27, 2020
  2. Information Collection from Long Term Care Facility Staff – March 26, 2020
  3. Owners and Operators of Nightclubs and Food and Drink Service – March 20, 2020
  4. Travellers – March 17, 2020
  5. Mass Gatherings – March 16, 2020

Link for more information on what the above list captures: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/essential-services-covid-19

Link to access all Public Health Orders made by the Provincial Health Officer – these orders MUST be followed: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/current-health-topics/covid-19-novel-coronavirus

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