How the March 30, 2020 Public Health Order Impacts Unions and Associations (Updated April 11, 2020)

By Shannon Carson

This is to advise of the newest Public Health Order issued March 30, 2020, that will now require the temporary closure of union and association offices, further to social distancing efforts required by COVID-19.

A copy of the Order may be found at

As per Order #3, businesses (other than exempt businesses), are now required to close their place of business/offices between 12:01 a.m. on April 1, 2020, and 12:01 a.m. on April 14, 2020.

The Order provides a Schedule which lists certain essential businesses that are exempt from the Order, and are not required to close their operations.

Although Unions are not specifically mentioned in the Schedule, they have been deemed exempt from the closure Order if they deliver services/support to a Government (Provincial or Federal), to a municipality, or to an exempt business.

A Union would, therefore, be exempt from the closure Order if it represents members who are still actively working for a government, a municipality or one of the exempt businesses. While the qualifying Union may keep staffing its offices and operations, it will still be required to keep those offices closed to its members and the general public, and must use remote means (e.g. online, telephone, etc.…) to deliver those services.”

For all other unions, the Order to close the place of business means that your union or association office must close, and all work done to run your union or association must now be done remotely (i.e. from staff homes), without staff attending the union or association office. During the period of closure, temporary access to the union/association office is permitted for the following limited purposes only:

  • Performing work at the place of business in order to comply with any applicable law;
  • Allowing for inspections, maintenance, and repairs at the place of business;
  • Allowing for security services to be provided at the place of business;
  • Attending the office to deal with critical matters related to the closure of the business if that cannot be done remotely, or accessing goods, materials, and supplies needed to operate remotely.

A business that provides staffing services, including temporary help, is an essential service that may remain open during this two-week period (see s. 68 of the Schedule.) Unions that run a hiring hall that dispatches workers to contractors can continue to operate under this section. However, in order to comply with the spirit of this Order, a hiring hall union office should only be open for dispatch purposes, with other functions and services being provided remotely.

Please check our website for any updates as they become available.