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Extraordinary Times, Extraordinary Measures: Two ministerial orders made under the Emergency Program Act in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Monday, June 22, 2020

Two ministerial orders made during the COVID-19 pandemic by BC’s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General went beyond the authority assigned to him under the Emergency Program Act and thus are contrary to law, an Ombudsperson investigation released today finds.

“In a provincial emergency the Solicitor General has additional extraordinary powers,” said Ombudsperson Jay Chalke. “The issue we investigated is whether those extra powers include the ability for the minister to suspend or temporarily amend BC statutes and we concluded the minister does not have that authority, even in an emergency. I recognize speed was important in responding to the pandemic however, while the intent and even the content of these orders may be worthy, that is not enough. Every exercise of public authority in a democratic system must find its source in law,” said Chalke.

View the full news release.