Protection Against Liability for Essential Service Providers

On April 2, 2020, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General made Ministerial Order M094 pursuant to the Emergency Program Act, RSBC 1996, c. 111, titled Protection Against Liability (COVID-19) Order. Order M094 will remain in effect until the declaration of a state of emergency expires or is cancelled, or if extended, until the last extension of the declaration expires or is cancelled.

M094 provides persons operating or providing an “essential service” with immunity from liability for damages resulting from an individual being or likely being infected with or exposed to SARS-CoV-2 as a result of that person’s operation or provision of the essential service.

In order for this immunity from liability to apply, the person operating or providing the essential service must do so, or reasonably believe they are doing so, in accordance with all appliable emergency and public health guidance, and must not be grossly negligent.

MO94 defines “emergency and public health guidance”, in relation to an essential service, as meaning any of the following with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Orders made under the Emergency Program Act;
  • Instructions or orders of a health officer as defined in the Public Health Act;
  • Guidelines from the following entities:
    • The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control;
    • The Public Health Agency of Canada;
    • A regional health board designated under the Health Authorities Act;
    • The First Nations Health Authority;
    • The Provincial Health Service Authority; and
    • An authority or body having jurisdiction with respect to a person operating or providing the essential service; and
  • Guidelines published on a website maintained by or on behalf of the government.

The Schedule to M094 sets out an extensive list of essential services to which the ministerial order applies.