Please beware that on August 20, 2020, the Ontario government (the "Government") issued a news release providing that the order pertaining to the suspensions of limitations period made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protections Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E.9 (the "EMCPA"), will end and suspended limitation periods will resume running on September 14, 2020.1
As you may recall, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, on March 17, 2020, the Government declared a state of emergency pursuant to the EMCPA2, providing them the authority, under section 7, to make orders to promote the public good by protecting the health, safety and welfare of the people of Ontario in times of declared emergencies in a manner that is subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.3 One of these orders, Ontario Regulation 73/20, suspended limitations periods and procedural time periods retroactive to March 16, 2020 (the "Limitations Period Order").4 This suspension was subsequently extended to September 11, 2020.5
The end of the declared state of emergency in Ontario on July 24, 2020 brought with it the enactment of the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, S.O. 2020, c.17 (the "ROA") whose purpose is to provide Ontario's Government with the necessary flexibility to address the ongoing risks and effects of the COVID-19 outbreak and ensure important measures remain in place to protect vulnerable populations, such as seniors, people with developmental disabilities and those with mental health and addiction issues.6 The ROA (1) allows for the extension of orders made under the EMCPA to remain in effect for a 30-day period and (2) authorizes the legislature to extend orders made under sections 7.02 and 7.1 of the EMCPA in a manner that would have been authorized under the EMCPA for a period of up to one year.7It does not, however, permit new orders to be created.
The Ontario Government acted on their powers under the ROA on August 20, 2020, when, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, they announced that they will be extending all orders currently in force under the ROA to September 22, 2020.8 They provided two exceptions concerning the Limitations Period Order and the education section.9 The Limitations Period Order will end on September 14, 2020, at which point all suspended timelines will resume.10
A newly created, Select Committee on Emergency Management Oversight (the "Committee") will be overseeing the Government's order extensions and amendments.11 The Committee will be meeting on August 24, 2020 to hear the rationale for the Government's decisions to extend orders.12 It will be helpful to hear whether they will comment on the exceptions to the September 22 extensions, particularly with respect to the Limitations Period Order.
The authors would like to thank Amanda Cutinha, summer student at Miller Thomson LLP, for her assistance on this article.
1. Government of Ontario, News Release, "Ontario Extends Orders Under the Reopening Ontario Act, 2020: Extensions needed to address ongoing risks of COVID-19 as province reopens" (20 August 2020), online. [perma.cc/6P73-8DLQ] [News Release Re: Order Extension Under ROA].
2. Government of Ontario, News Release, "Ontario Enacts Declaration of Emergency to Protect the Public: Significantly Enhanced Measures will Help Contain Spread of COVID-19" (17 March 2020), online. [perma.cc/4TBS-6XW2]
3. Emergency Measures and Civil Protection Act, RSO 1990, c E.9, s 7.0.2(1), 7.1.
4. O Reg 73/20, s 1, 2.
5. O Reg 259/20, s 1.
6. See Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, SO 2020, c 17 [ROA]; News Release Re: Order Extension Under ROA, supra note 1.
7. ROA, supra note 6, s 2-4.
8. News Release Re: Order Extension Under ROA, supra note 1
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.