Immunity From COVID-19 Exposure Claims: Essential Service Providers
On April 2, 2020, British Columbia enacted a Ministerial Order providing legal immunity to ‘essential service’ providers from claims in negligence if somebody were to allege that they were infected or exposed to COVID-19 as a result of an ‘essential service’ provider operating or providing an essential service; thus affecting the ability to make a personal injury claim for damages. A list of essential services is set out in the Schedule of the Emergency Program Act.
While individuals in British Columbia may be precluded from bringing a personal injury claim for infection or exposure to COVID-19 against an essential service provider, they will not be precluded from bringing a personal injury claim for infection or exposure to COVID-19 against an essential service provider if they are claiming gross negligence.
Furthermore, essential service provider immunity, from personal injury claims, will only be granted if the essential service provider was:
- Operating or providing the essential service in accordance with all applicable emergency and public health guidance; or
- Reasonably believed that the person was operating or providing the essential service in accordance with all applicable emergency and health guidance.
Gross Negligence is a conscious and voluntary disregard of the need to use reasonable care, which is likely to cause foreseeable injury or harm to persons, property, or both.
British Columbia’s decision to order the granting of immunity to essential service providers is very interesting and begs the question, “Will Alberta be next?”.
It is possible that more or all Canadian provinces will enact Ministerial Orders precluding personal injury claims arising from infection or exposure to COVID-19 from an essential service provider out of basic negligence; only time will tell.
If you or a loved one have been infected or exposed to COVID-19 and have suffered personal injuries, contact a knowledgeable lawyer at Law Fifty One LLP to see what options may be available to you in order to claim for compensation.