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Posted: April 2, 2020

Pandemic liability protection for essential service providers

The B.C. government is taking steps to protect those providing essential services by ensuring they cannot be held liable for damages caused by exposure to COVID-19 while continuing to operate, so long as they are complying with orders from the provincial health officer and other authorities.

The order is being introduced because a number of essential service business owners identified challenges with their insurance as a result of the pandemic. The changes government is implementing are intended to assist with some of these concerns, the Ministry of Attorney General stated this morning (April 2).

For example, a child care provider will not be liable for a child in their care or a family member being exposed to COVID-19, so long as they are following established protocols on how to prevent the spread of the virus, like proper handwashing, regular cleaning and disinfecting and identifying children who are sick.

Essential service providers who are not compliant with respective authorities or who are grossly negligent will not receive protection under the order and will be held liable for damages. The order only applies to situations related to COVID-19 and will remain in effect for as long as the state of emergency remains in place.

Additionally, it will continue to protect essential service providers until any relevant limitation periods have expired, the ministry said.

The province, in consultation with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, has defined the essential services British Columbians rely on in their daily lives in the context of COVID-19 response and recovery. This is distinct from essential service designations under the province’s Labour Relations Code.

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