Province Releases List of Essential Services in British Columbia

Categories: Blog, Employment Law

The provincial government published its list of essential services on March 26th. Essential services are workplaces that are encouraged to stay open by the provincial government. Notwithstanding this designation, essential services must adapt their workplace to meet the standards and orders required by the Provincial Health Officer.

A list of essential services can be found here: Non-Health Essential Service Providers

Non-essential workplaces are permitted to remain open provided they comply with the standards and orders established by the Provincial Health Officer, and they have not otherwise been ordered to shut down (e.g., bars and hair salons).

While the distinction between essential and non-essential services appears arbitrary (i.e., both are permitted to remain open provided they comply with the orders of the Provincial Health Officer), the distinction may become important if the government orders additional businesses to suspend operations during the state of emergency. In this scenario, it is more likely that the government will order the closure of non-essential workplaces.

Workplaces deemed essential services in the current context differ from workplaces designated as essential services under the Labour Relations Code. The latter is narrower and requires unionized employees to provide basic services during a strike or lockout.