New Brunswick

New Brunswick's state-of-emergency order could end this summer

Bill tabled seeks to extend 'immunity' of COVID-19 rule enforcers from any legal action

Posted: May 12, 2021
Last Updated: May 12, 2021

Public Safety Minister Ted Flemming said he's optimistic that if enough people get vaccinated and herd immunity is achieved, 'we can get our lives back to what we all want them to be.' (Ed Hunter/CBC)

The New Brunswick state of emergency order could end this summer, says Justice and Public Safety Minister Ted Flemming.

The order, which gives the government additional powers, has been in place since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Flemming said he is already directing the Department of Public Safety to start work on the plan that involves there not being an emergency order.

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"I mean, nobody wants to live this way indefinitely. I don't like it. Nobody likes it. Having a 15-person bubble, having these restrictions, my glasses are fogged up all the time [from wearing a mask.] But it's a small price to pay for the success that we've had. 

"So, yeah, I'm really optimistic and I'm hoping that this summer we'll see the end of the emergency order."

On Tuesday, Flemming introduced a bill that sets out when the emergency order ends, certain aspects can carry on after. 

It gives "immunity from prosecution" for peace officers who enforced COVID-19 rules as part of their duties, he said, citing the example of refusing entry to the province at the borders.

"In normal circumstances, the right to travel as a Canadian throughout the country has been, because of the emergency order, has been prevented without an emergency order, that would, in itself, be an unlawful act.

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This piece of legislation does not in any way, shape or form extend the powers to government granted by the emergency order. - Ted Flemming, public safety minister

"So what this does, it prevents an individual from then commencing a legal action against the officer who prevented them from entering into the province under the authority of the act."

The investigation and prosecution of any violations under the act — "whether it's distances, bubbling, masks, gatherings, anything else like that" — will continue, Flemming told reporters, "because at the time when the act was committed, the order was in place and that would, the suggestion be, an unlawful act."

The bill also preserves the extended limitation periods with respect to certain judicial proceedings.

"This piece of legislation does not in any way, shape or form extend the powers to government granted by the emergency order," he stressed. "When the emergency order is over, it is over. And those extraordinary powers no longer will lie with government."

With files from Jacques Poitras