This page provides information and links for Albertans about changes in the law and legal services because of COVID-19.
Disclaimer: This page is updated regularly. But information changes quickly! For the most up-to-date information, visit government websites.
Court Hearings and Legal Proceedings
- If you need to get an Emergency Protection Order, see this info from Legal Aid to get more help.
- Limitations periods are running again. Limitation periods had been suspended until June 1, 2020. This suspension is subject to the discretion of the court, tribunal or other decision-maker. See Ministerial Order in Council dated March 30, 2020 for the list of laws this suspension applied to.
- Courts in Alberta are mostly back to regular operations, though with some changes. Some processes are being conducted by video conference or by written applications, instead of in-person. Visitors to the courthouse are still being restricted. Visit each court’s website for more information:
- Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS) offices remain closed to the public. RTDRS is conducting hearings by telephone and continues to accept applications through its on-line e-filing service. More information on RTDRS.
- The Alberta Human Rights Commission offices remain closed to the public. The Commission remains operational. All scheduled meetings will take place by teleconference or video-conference Visit the website or contact the confidential inquiry line if you need more info.
- For court updates across Canada, visit the National Self-Represented Litigants Project (NSRLP) website.
Employment & Benefits
- Employees governed by Alberta’s Employment Standards Code are entitled to 14 consecutive days of unpaid job leave if they are under quarantine. An employee under quarantine does not need to be employed for 90 days by the same employer or require a medical note to be eligible. For more information, see Employment Standards (COVID-19 Leave) Regulation.
- Temporary changes to employment standards are in place for employees and employers while the public health emergency order is in effect, including:
- Unpaid job protected leave for employees caring for children affected by school/daycare closures or ill or self-isolating family members due to COVID-19
- Removal of 24-hour notice requirement for shift changes
- Removal of 2-week notice requirement for work schedule changes (if you are under an averaging agreement)
- Removal of requirement for employers to give group termination notice to employees and unions when 50 or more employees are terminated
- Increasing temporary layoff time from 60 to 120 days (change is retroactive for temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 on/after March 17, 2020).
- These temporary changes remain in effect until August 14, 2020 unless the government terminates the Orders earlier if it is satisfied the measures are no longer in the public interest.
- Effective June 18th, changes were made to the Employment Standards Code which impacts temporary layoffs due to COVID-19. Now, any layoff due to COVID-19 can be for 180 consecutive days and you do not have to work any days in this period. You can be recalled within this period. If you are not recalled after 180 consecutive days of no work, then you are deemed to be terminated (and regular termination laws apply). This change applies to workers who were already laid off due to COVID-19 as of June 18th and those who are laid off after this date. For more information, see Bill 24.
- For more information about job-protected leave and changes to employment standards: Government of Alberta website, COVID-19 support for employers and employees
- The Alberta Human Rights Commission posted a reminder about human rights amid COVID-19.
- The Alberta Government has posted several occupational health and safety resources:
- Eligible seniors got up to $500 as a one-time payment, paid the week of July 6, 2020. Seniors who receive the Old Age Security Pension in June 2020 got an additional $300 and seniors who receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement in June 2020 got an additional $200. See the Government of Canada’s website for more information.
- If you are a student and cannot work due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB). The CESB will provide eligible students with $1250 per month from May to August. The amount can go up to $1750 if the student is caring for a dependent or has a disability. Benefit is available from May 2020 to August 2020. See online for more information and to apply.
- Canada has made changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program to better support employers and youth during COVID-19. More information on these temporary flexibilities.
- If you cannot work due to COVID-19 or are facing unemployment and you do not qualify for EI, you may be eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). See online for more information and eligibility criteria. You can apply through CRA MyAccount or My Service Canada Account. CERB is available for a total of 24 weeks between March 15, 2020 and October 3, 2020. You must apply by December 2, 2020 for retroactive payments for within that period. See Government of Canada CERB Q&A page for more info.
- Employees governed by the Canada Labour Code are entitled to an unpaid job-protected leave of up to 16 weeks for any reason related to COVID-19 (effective March 25, 2020). There are also notice and benefits provisions. These are temporary changes to the Code and expire on September 30, 2020. See the Government of Canada’s info on employees’ rights and leaves of absences.
- EI sickness benefits are available to eligible employees who cannot work due to injury, illness or quarantine. The Government of Canada recently announced it is waiving the one-week waiting period to be paid. As well, people on quarantine will not have to provide a medical certificate to apply.
- The Work-Sharing program is introducing temporary measures to support employees and employers. The Work-Sharing Program allows workers to agree to work reduced hours and receive income support. More information about Work-Sharing and COVID-19.
- For more information about Canada’s support for individuals (including increases to the Canada Child Benefit and Special GST credit payments), see the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.
- If you have been laid-off or your employment has been terminated, see these CPLEA resources for more information:
- The Court of Queen’s Bench announced a new Family Docket Court, along with several other measures, to attempt to deal with the backlog caused by restrictions on courtrooms due to COVID. See the Court’s announcements for more information.
- Co-Parenting During COVID-19: Legal Aid Alberta prepared this resource based on common principles of family law and the current practice of Alberta Courts during COVID-19.
- The courts are still hearing urgent family and child-protection matters. See the courts’ websites for more information:
- If you do not have a lawyer AND you are starting or wanting to have an ongoing matter brought into Provincial Court, you must contact a Family Court Counsellor first. For more information, including contact information for Family Court Counsellors across the province, see the Notice from the Provincial Court.
- Failing to comply with a court order regarding parenting time and contact could have negative consequences once courts are back in session. If you cannot comply because of restrictions you are under due to COVID-19, having and documenting clear communication with the other parent is more important than ever.
- If you have concerns, you can talk to the other parent, your lawyer, or a mediator or arbitrator.
- EPO applications and reviews are still being heard.
Government Service Updates
- The City of Edmonton’s Tenant Support Services is closed to the public. Select services are still available over the phone. Visit the website if you need more information.
- Alberta Land Titles Offices in Edmonton and Calgary are closed to in-person counter services. For more information, call the Calgary Office at 403.297.6511 or the Edmonton office at 780.427.2742.
- Road tests can now be booked online. See Alberta’s Driver’s road test page for more info.
- Some motor vehicle registry services are available by phone, fax, mail or email. Contact your nearest registry for more information.
- Corporate Registry deadlines and requirements have been suspended until further notice. This includes filing annual returns and the requirements to hold an Annual General Meeting for corporations, societies, Part 9 companies, cooperatives and partnerships.
- See the section called “Government services changes” for more information.
Housing & Real Estate (Rentals, Utilities, Etc.)
- In Alberta, protections are in place for tenants (under the Residential Tenancies Act and Mobile Home Sites Tenancies Act) such as:
- suspension of evictions for non-payment of rent or utilities or both before May 1, 2020
- no rent increases while Alberta’s State of Public Health Emergency is in effect. Now that the Public Health Emergency is over, rent increases can take effect if proper notice is given but landlords cannot retroactively collect rental increases. (I.e. Landlords cannot now collect rental increases that were supposed to take effect while the Public Health Emergency was in effect.)
- no late fees on late rental payments until June 30, 2020. Late fees can now be applied to late rental payments after June 30th but landlords cannot retroactively collect late fees.
- landlords must work with tenants to establish a rent payment plan. This protection remains in place until August 14, 2020.
- There was a utility bill deferment for electricity and natural gas, regardless of the service provider. This program ended on June 18, 2020. Check with your municipality if there is flexibility or deferral of payments for water service. Remember, deferral does not mean you don’t have to pay, it just means your payment is put off until later.
- For more information on tenant protection measures, go to the following Government of Alberta resources:
- For more information on utility payment deferral:
- There have been no announcements federally about implementing additional protection measures for residential tenants.
- For commercial tenants, Canada has partnered with each province, including Alberta, to create the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA). Eligible commercial property owners can reduce or forgive rent for small business tenants impacted by COVID-19 by 75% for April, May and June 2020. Applications opened May 25, 2020. For more information and to apply:
- CPLEA resource, COVID-19: Information for Alberta Landlords and Tenants
- CPLEA resource, COVID-19: Tips for Condominiums
- For more information/tips on COVID-19 and real estate in Alberta (e.g., dealing with landlord, tenant, buyer and seller concerns with property showings and management), go to:
- Many lawyers are working remotely right now and not seeing clients in person unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Many community and legal clinics are not seeing clients in person but are providing services by telephone:
- Edmonton Community Legal Centre: Office is closed but you can fill out their online Intake Form or call 780.702.1725. Lawyers and staff are still providing legal support by phone.
- Student Legal Services (at the University of Alberta): Office is closed but you can call their office for support. Visit their website for more information.
- Calgary Legal Guidance: Phone legal advice clinics are still running. All in-person clinics and walk-ins are cancelled up to and including April 30, 2020.Leave a message at 403.234.9266 and staff will contact you to set up an appointment.
- Student Legal Assistance (University of Calgary): SLA is now accepting a limited number of new client appointments. If you are an existing client, call 403.220.6637 to leave a message or send an email to [email protected].
- Central Alberta Community Legal Clinic (Red Deer, Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Medicine Hat): Offices are closed to the public. Services available by telephone. Visit the website for clinics’ contact info.
- Grande Prairie Legal Guidance: Office is closed to the public. Services are available by telephone. Call 780.882.0036.
- Lethbridge Legal Guidance: Office is closed to the public. Services are available by telephone. Call 403.380.6338.
- Legal Aid Alberta: Only accepting applications for in custody criminal matters, urgent out-of-custody criminal matters and urgent family or child-protection matters. Intake services at the courthouse are closed. You must apply by telephone. Call 1.866.845.3425. If you need help with other matters, you will have to wait until after May 22, 2020 or such further date as the court may advise.
- Resolution and Court Administration Services: Provides information about courts and resolution services in Alberta. Call 1.855.738.4747 or fill out the contact form for more information.
- Pro Bono Law Alberta: Court-based programs (Civil Claims Duty Counsel and Queen’s Bench Court Assistance) are currently closed due to reduced courthouse operations. Check out PBLA’s COVID-19 Resource Centre for more info.
- If you don’t qualify for a legal clinic but you need a lawyer and don’t know one, Lawyer Referral Service provides the names of three lawyers. Each lawyer should provide a half-hour consultation free of charge. Note that lawyers are not expected to give free legal advice during the free half-hour consultation. Call 1.800.661.1095 or fill out an online request form.
Money Issues (Taxes, Mortgages, Loans & Student Loans)
- Talk to your bank or lender about deferrals of mortgages, loans and lines of credit.
- Alberta student loan repayments are paused for 6 months as of March 30, 2020, with no interest accruing during this period. This is automatic, there is no need to apply. Borrowers can still make payments if they want. For more information, see Alberta Student Aid’s website.
- To learn more about what the Government of Alberta is doing, visit: COVID-19 Supports for Albertans.
- The deadline for individuals (other than trusts) to file tax returns was June 1, 2020.
- The deadline to pay any income tax amounts due between March 18, 2020 and August 31, 2020 is delayed until September 30, 2020. Penalties and interest will not be charged if payments are made by September 30, 2020.
- If you are having difficulty paying your mortgage or other amounts owing (loans, credit cards, etc.), contact your bank or lending institution. Many banks (such as RBC, TD, BMO, Scotiabank, CIBC and National Bank) are supporting customers by deferring mortgage payments for 6 months or providing relief for other credit products.
- If your mortgage is insured by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), you may be eligible for payment deferrals. Contact your bank or lending institution.
- Canada student loan repayments are paused for six months as of March 30, 2020 (until September 30, 2020). No interest accrues during this period. This is automatic, there is no need to apply.
- For more information on what the Government of Canada is doing, visit:
Public Health Orders
- Some cities and towns across the province are making bylaws requiring people to wear masks in certain places. Check your local government’s website for more information.
- Calgary‘s Face Coverings Bylaw comes into effect on August 1, 2020. People are required to wear masks on public transit, in public vehicles for hire (such as taxis, ride-sharing and Uber), in public indoor spaces (such as grocery stores, shopping malls and churches) and at City of Calgary facilities (such as City Hall and recreation centres).
- Edmonton‘s Temporary Mandatory Face Coverings Bylaw also comes into effect on August 1, 2020. People are required to wear face coverings in indoor public places (any place where the public can access) and public vehicles (such as ETS buses and LRT, Uber and taxis). See sections 5 and 6 of the bylaw for exceptions.
- Alberta entered Stage 2 of its Relaunch Strategy on June 12th. See the Government of Alberta’s website for more detailed information.
- Physical distancing measures and gathering restrictions remain in effect even as Alberta’s economy continues to open. The government is monitoring the situation closely and making adjustments as necessary (including increasing gathering sizes where safe to do so). See the Government of Alberta’s website for more information.
- Albertans can be fined at least $1000 for not obeying public health orders (including on gathering sizes, self-isolation when returning to Canada, self-isolation if diagnosed with COVID-19 or exhibiting symptoms, access to recreation and entertainment facilities, and access to long-term care and continuing care facilities). See the Government of Alberta webpage for more information.
- View the complete list of public health orders and ministerial orders.
- Travellers returning to Canada must enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine. These travellers cannot use public transport to get places of isolation. Border officials will be collecting contact info to allow them to follow-up with travellers. This is a legal obligation. Failing to quarantine can result in fines or arrests. See the Government of Canada website for more info.
Small Businesses, Entrepreneurs & Non-Profits
- Small and medium sized businesses (with less than 500 employees) affected by the pandemic will be eligible for a one-time relaunch payment of up to $5000 to help reopen their doors. The payment is meant for covering inventory, supplies, wages, rent and putting in protective measures. Application intake opens on June 29th and will remain open until August 31st or for 4 weeks following the start of Phase 3 of Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy (whichever is later). For more information and to apply, visit Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant
- Alberta entered Stage 2 of its Relaunch Strategy on June 12th. See the Government of Alberta’s website for more detailed information.
- The government has created Alberta Biz Connect to provide guidance and supports to businesses and non-profits as they start to re-open. The government has created guidelines for all workplaces and some specific to certain sectors. See Alberta Biz Connect webpage for more information.
- Canada has partnered with each province, including Alberta, to create the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA). Eligible commercial property owners can reduce or forgive rent for small business tenants impacted by COVID-19 by 75% for April, May and June 2020. Applications opened May 25, 2020. For more information and to apply:
- Employees are entitled to 14 consecutive days of unpaid job leave if they are under quarantine. An employee under quarantine does not need to be employed for 90 days by the same employer or require a medical note to be eligible. For more information:
- Alberta will be matching the federal corporate deferral of income tax until August 31, 2020.
- For more information for support for businesses in Alberta, visit the Government of Alberta website.
- Canada has several support programs available for businesses, including the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Canada Emergency Business Account, and the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance. There are also supports for self-employed individuals. For more information, go to the Government of Canada’s website.
- Canada has increased the amount of financing available, such as small business loans, working capital loans and purchase order financing. For more information, visit the BDC website.
See Charity Central for more COVID-19 updates for non-profits.
States of Emergency
- More information on Alberta’s State of Public Emergency (which ends on June 15th)
- More information on municipal states of local emergency
- More information on Canada’s Emergencies Act
Why is each city and province responding differently to COVID-19?
Canada is a federal state. This means Canada has two levels of government: provincial and federal. Under our constitution, each level of government has power to make laws about certain areas. Section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867 sets out a list of areas (called heads of power) over which the federal government has jurisdiction to make laws. This includes regulating trade and commerce, unemployment insurance, taxes, postal services, the military, banking, airlines and shipping, money, borders and immigration, and criminal law.
Section 92 lists heads of power which the provincial governments have jurisdiction to make laws applicable in their own provinces. This includes healthcare, education, municipalities, property and civil rights in the province, courts, provincial taxes, drinking and gambling, natural resources (exploration, development and management), and all other provincially local matters.
When it comes to COVID-19, Canada can make decisions about things it has power over. This includes the borders, unemployment insurance (EI), federal income taxes, federal student loans, etc.
Each province then has authority to make decisions about things it has power over. This includes the health care system, schools (K-12 and post-secondary), provincial taxes, registries (such as vehicle registration and drivers’ licenses), etc.
Each province can also delegate some of its authority to municipalities (towns and cites) within its borders. In Alberta, municipalities have certain powers under the Municipal Government Act. Each municipality can make bylaws, including about where people can smoke and drink in public, property taxes, speed limits, etc.
- As of April 20th, all airline passengers must wear a non-medical mask or face covering covering their mouth and nose during travel.
- As of March 30th, all airline passengers will go through a health check before boarding. You will not be allowed to board if you are showing any symptoms of COVID-19, have been refused boarding in the past 14 days due to a medical reason related to COVID-19 or are subject to a provincial or local public health order.
- Travellers returning to Canada must enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine. These travellers cannot use public transport to get to places of isolation. Border officials will be collecting contact info to allow them to follow-up with travellers. This is a legal obligation. Failing to quarantine can result in fines or arrests. This requirement will remain in place until at least the end of August. See the Government of Canada website for more info.
- Canadians who are stuck abroad may be eligible for an emergency loan of up to $5,000. This loan is through the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad. For more information, visit COVID-19 Financial Help for Canadians.
- Canadians who are abroad (either on vacation or living) can register with Registration of Canadians Abroad. This is a free service that allows the Government of Canada to contact you in case of an emergency abroad or a personal emergency at home. Register online.
- The border between Canada and the US remains closed until at least August 21st. Only essential travel, trade and commerce is allowed, as well as families reuniting.
- Canada is keeping its borders closed to international visitors until July 31 (except for separate arrangements with the US). There are exceptions for air crew, diplomats and immediate family members of citizens.
- International and domestic flights are affected. Most international flights are landing only in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto.
- See all of Canada’s travel advice.
- List of public health orders and Ministerial Orders in Alberta
- Government of Canada’s COVID info line: 1.833.784.4397 (available 7AM to midnight EST, 7 days/week)
- Canada COVID-19 webpage
- Alberta COVID-19 webpage
- Edmonton COVID-19 webpage
- Calgary COVID-19 webpage
Each town and city across Alberta has rules for its residents and businesses. See your local government’s website for more information.
Last updated: August 7, 2020