On March 25, 2020 the government of Saskatchewan announced via a news release that a new public health order would come into force in the province on March 26, 2020 (the "Order"). The majority of the Order concerns additional restrictions on business operations.
The Order was published on March 26, 2020. In it, the government has created the categories "Critical Public Services" and "Allowable Business Services". Businesses that fall within these categories are considered vital to maintaining critical services to the public and industry to prevent supply chain disruption.
A government backgrounder has been provided to provide more information regarding these two categories of business. Critical Public Services are broadly characterized as: health care and public health workers; law enforcement, public safety and first responders, and government and community services.
Allowable Business Services are broadly characterized as: production, processing and manufacturing and the supporting supply chains, transportation and logistics, media and telecommunications, construction including maintenance and repair, retail services and banking and financial services. Read the government backgrounder to learn more.
A business is required to close if it cannot be characterized as a Critical Public Service or an Allowable Business Service. However, the Order also states that businesses which are required to close are allowed to continue to provide online sales.
Businesses that are allowed to remain open are required to follow require social distancing procedures.
These new restrictions have significant implications for all businesses, but particularly for those that are required to close. The provincial government has recently enacted new leave and layoff provisions to assist businesses in responding to restrictions that have been implemented as a result of COVID-19.
Businesses may be entitled to place employees on the newly implemented Public Health Emergency Leave. The parameters of this new form of leave are outlined in our Saskatchewan Enacts Public Health Emergency Leave blog.
Further, businesses may be able to place employees on leave pursuant to the public emergency layoff provisions that were recently implemented in The Employment Standards (Public Emergencies) Amendment Regulations, 2020 and which are outlined in our Temporary Layoffs Arising from COVID-19 Measures in Saskatchewan blog.
The MLT Aikins labour and employment team will continue to monitor the situation and provide additional updates on legal issues that may impact employers. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team if you require assistance in getting your organization prepared for addressing the operational impacts of COVID-19 and particularly if you are unsure as to how your business is classified under the Order.
Read the government backgrounder in the "Allowable Business Services" section to learn more.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.