Local Governments should be aware that under section 83 of the Public Health Act a local government is required to take certain steps when it becomes aware of a health hazard in its jurisdiction including reporting a health hazard to a health officer or taking an action that the local government has authority to take under the Public Health Act or another enactment to respond to the health hazard. Further, they must provide health officers with information that health officers require and consider advice or information provided to them by a health officer. (more…)
The Reporting Information Affecting Public Health Regulation, B.C. Reg. 167/2018 requires at section 4 that any person in charge of an institution or workplace who has been advised by a Medical Health Officer that a person who is or has been present at the institution or workplace is an infected person must, if requested by the Medical Health Officer, report the contact information, if known, of each person who may have been exposed to the infected person and make a report to the Medical Health Officer in the form and manner required by the Medical Health Officer.
The novel coronavirus is a prescribed infectious agent in the Schedule to the Regulation.
As we learn more about the potential impacts of COVID 19, you may be thinking ahead and considering what would happen if a number of elected officials were unable to attend a local government council or board meeting because of illness or self-isolation. Many local governments will have included in their Procedure Bylaws provisions in relation to electronic meetings. Some procedure bylaws will specify that where you are allowing participants to attend electronically there must be a quorum of elected officials physically present at the meeting. (more…)
Due to the risk of an outbreak of COVID 19, the Provincial Health Officer has issued an order under the Public Health Act. The order expressly applies to municipalities and regional districts, as well as other persons and organizations. Persons and organizations subject to the order are prohibited from permitting the gathering of more than 50 people at a place of which they are the owner, occupier, or operator, or for which they are otherwise responsible. The order is effective until May 30, 2020, unless revised, cancelled, or extended.
Local governments will need to consider closing or curtailing the operation of public facilities they operate, in order to comply with the order. The impact of the order on the conduct of council and board meetings, as well as public hearings, will also need to be carefully considered.
COVID-19 is creating multiple and unprecedented issues for British Columbians, including local governments. The number, type, and severity of issues will likely increase in the coming days and weeks. One potential issue that may arise is the effect of a contractor or a local government being unable to perform their obligations under a contract, either due to the illness itself or governmental efforts to prevent or slow the transmission of the virus. (more…)