emergencies act canada

This is what might happen if Canada invokes the Federal Emergencies Act

The Federal Emergencies Act in Canada has not yet been invoked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau but he's repeatedly said that "nothing is off the table" — so here's what the Act could mean.

The Emergencies Act gives the federal government in Canada the power to "take special temporary measures that may not be appropriate in normal times."

It replaced the War Measures Act in 1988.

Although the Emergencies Act has never been used before, the War Measures Act has been enacted three times in Canada's history: World War I, World War II, and by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1970.

The Emergencies Act is divided into four types of emergencies: public welfare, public order, international and war.

Trudeau would be operating under "public welfare emergencies," which includes any emergency caused by "disease in human beings, animals or plants."

Under the Act, Trudeau has the power to prohibit public assembly and regulate or prohibit trave to, from or within any specified area.

This means that he could close off any province, city or building in the country — a restriction that some Canadian territories are already enacting.

It would also allow Canada to enforce physical distancing to combat those who are continuing to ignore pleas to remain 2 metres apart from others.

Trudeau can also direct any person to render services that they are qualified to give with "the provision of reasonable compensation."

In the case of COVID-19, Trudeau could order manufacturers to produce stockpiles of masks, ventilators and other medical supplies that will be in short supply.

Trudeau can also establish emergency hospitals, authorize emergency payments and remove personal property from any specified area.

Furthermore, he can establish fines up to $5,000 or jail time between six months and five years for contravening any order or rule — a task that, once again, many provincial and municipal governments are already undertaking.

However, the Act prohibits the federal government from assuming control of any police force that normally falls under the jurisdiction of a municipality or province.

In other words, Trudeau could not enact martial law.

If Trudeau chooses to invoke the Act, it will remain in place for 90 days. The government can choose to extend the time period if circumstances do not improve.

On Monday, Justin Trudeau said that he is working closely with the provinces to limit further spread of COVID-19.

The Prime Minister also confirmed that he will discuss the Federal Emergencies Act with premiers this evening.

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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