The Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General has now made three Ministerial Orders pursuant to the Emergency Program Act. The following is a summary of what each order provides. These Orders apply during the declared state of emergency made on March 18, 2020. The following is a summary of what each Order provides. A link to the full text of each Order is included.
Ministerial Order No. M082 requires local authorities, to the greatest extent possible without unduly compromising any other bylaw enforcement objectives of the local authority, to ensure that their bylaw enforcement officers provide assistance in the enforcement of public health orders. The forms of assistance required to be provided include but are not limited to:
- Monitoring facilities and areas closed to the public under a public health order;
- Providing warnings, information and advice to businesses and members of the public in respect of public health orders. This includes warning businesses and members of the public who may be acting in contravention of public health order;
- Providing health officers with information about potential contraventions of public health order
Under this Order, bylaw enforcement officers are not authorized to detain individuals who have contravened or are suspected of contravening a public health order, and are not authorized to issue a fine or penalty under the Public Health Act.
Ministerial Order No. M083 addresses an issue that our clients have raised recently about holding council and board meetings without the presence of the public. This Order says that despite the legislative and bylaw requirements that mandate meetings be open to the public, a local government or other body referred to in section 93 of the Community Charter or section 218 of the Local Government Act is not required to allow members of the public to attend an open meeting.
Further, Order M083 authorizes local governments to conduct meetings by electronic means or other communication facilities, despite s. 128 of the Community Charter or section 221 of the Local Government Act. In particular, the requirements that the public may hear or see and hear the meeting at a specified place and that the designated officer be present do not apply to meetings conducted by electronic means or other communication facilities under the Order.
Lastly, municipalities may adopt a bylaw on the same day that the bylaw is given third reading despite section 135(3) of the Community Charter. Regional Districts may adopt a bylaw at the same meeting at which the bylaw passes third reading if the motion for adoption receives the majority of votes cast. This is despites section 228 of the Local Government Act which requires such a bylaw to receive two thirds of votes cast.
Ministerial Order No. M084 deals with the obligations of local authorities and contains provisions intended to ensure the availability of essential goods and supplies.
- All local authorities are immediately required to activate their local emergency plans.
- All declarations of a state of local emergency previously made under the Emergency Program Act related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and any orders made pursuant to any such declarations, are set aside.
- From the date of the Order, local authorities must not declare a state of local emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and must not exercise a power or make an order under section 13 of the Emergency Program Act, without the Minister’s approval.
- If requested by the Minister, local authorities must take all measures to identify resource and facilities within their jurisdiction that could be used to respond to or mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- If requested by the Minister, local authorities must take all measures necessary to identify the critical supply and service needs within their jurisdiction related to the local authority’s ability to respond to or mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.
- Each local authority must review and if necessary update its emergency plan and business continuity plans.
- Each local authority must use best efforts to enter into mutual aid agreements with neighbouring jurisdictions to ensure that first responder, wastewater and drinking water services are maintained.
- Local authorities must use best efforts to provide assistance in the management and delivery of critical services for vulnerable populations.
- A person may deliver goods, food and supplies to a retailer at any time, despite a local government bylaw that would limit or restrict the timing of the delivery of goods, food or supplies.
- The order contains provisions requiring retailers, suppliers, businesses and other organizations to report to Emergency Management BC on their inventory of essential goods and supplies, if requested by the Minister.
- If directed by the Minister, retailers must limit the number of items of a specified good that may be sold to a person in a single transaction.
- If directed by the Minister, hotel and commercial lodging operators must provide accommodation services for the purposes of self-isolation of individuals, for supporting essential workers or for any other purposes identified by Emergency Management BC.
- “Secondary selling” of essential goods and supplies is prohibited.
- BC Ferries and other ferry operators are required to implement procedures necessary to ensure priority loading on ferries for vehicles carrying essential goods and supplies, and residents of ferry sailing destinations
- If directed by the Minister, suppliers, distributors and retailers , as well as the Retail Council of Canada, the Canadian Trucking Association of BC, and the United Truckers Association must take coordinated measures to ensure the effective delivery of essential goods and supplies throughout the Province