COVID-19 Measures Act receives royal assent with minor changes

On July 8, 2020, Bill 19: COVID-19 Measures Act received royal assent. This legislation was first introduced on June 22, 2020, with the intention of creating a controlled end to the declared state of provincial emergency, which has been in effect since March 18, 2020. As we first reported on June 23, 2020, this legislation automatically incorporates and extends certain ministerial orders enacted under the Emergency Program Act, which would otherwise end immediately at the conclusion of the state of emergency.

The Act extends the following orders by 90 days after the end of the state of emergency:

  • Electronic Attendance (COVID19) Orders (Strata Property Meetings, Corporate Meetings, Credit Union Meetings, Statutory Meetings)
  • Local Government Meetings and Bylaw Process (COVID19) Order Nos. 2 & 3
  • Bylaw Enforcement Officer (COVID19) Order
  • Local Authorities and Essential Goods and Supplies (COVID19) Order
  • Provincial Compliance Officer (COVID19) Order
  • Limitation Periods (COVID19) Order No. 2
  • Health Care Labour Adjustment (COVID19) Order
  • Prohibition on Unconscionable Prices for Essential Goods and Supplies (COVID19) Order
  • Employment and Assistance (COVID19) Order
  • Local Government Finance (COVID19) Order
  • Electronic Witnessing of Enduring Powers of Attorney and Representation Agreements(COVID19) Order
  • Electronic Attendance at UBCM Convention (COVID19) Order
  • Protection Against Liability for Sports (COVID19) Order

The Act extends the following orders by 45 days after the end of the state of emergency:

  • Limitation Periods (COVID19) Order
  • Residential Tenancy (COVID19) Order
  • Protection Against Liability (COVID19) Order Nos. 1 & 2
  • Supreme Court Civil and Family Applications (COVID19) Order
  • Encampment Health and Safety (COVID19) Orders (Nos. 1 & 2, Vancouver Enforcement Order, Victoria Enforcement Order)

Anticipating the potential for a second wave of COVID-19, the Act also provides the ability for the Lieutenant Governor in Council to extend all the foregoing orders for up to one year after the enactment of the Act, and may repeal any of the foregoing orders earlier than the 45 or 90 days provided in the Act. The Lieutenant Governor in Council also has the power under the Act to add orders to the Act that were made under the Emergency Program Act with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, the Act provides the Lieutenant Governor in Council the power to enact regulations that provide protection from civil liability flowing from the COVID-19 pandemic, except in circumstances of gross negligence.

The Act received royal assent with no changes to the foregoing provisions. The only modification to the legislation was to add in a reporting requirement, such that any orders or regulations made under the Act, or the Emergency Program Act, must be reported to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly within 5 days, and the Speaker must lay the report before the Legislative Assembly as soon as possible.

At this time, no regulations have been enacted by the Lieutenant Governor in Council under the Act, and we will provide a further if and when such regulations do take effect.

If you have any questions about this article, please contact Sari Wiens, Ilan BurkesNicole Toye or Jessica Fairbairn.

Note to our Readers: Information regarding COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. We are working to bring you up-to-date articles as the legal issues develop and to keep our previous posts updated. Given that the legal issues related to COVID-19 are constantly changing, if you are looking for legal advice or are dealing with an issue in relation to COVID-19, please contact your Harris lawyer or a member of our COVID-19 response team: Sari Wiens, Ilan BurkesNicole Toye or Jessica Fairbairn.

To read our most recent articles and other updates on COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 Updates page.