COVID-19 and Human Rights

UPDATE

Effective Thursday, November 19th,  wearing a non-medical mask will now be required in all indoor public spaces in Saskatchewan.

Until November 19, mandatory masking in indoor public places applies to all Saskatchewan communities with populations of 5,000 people or greater.  This includes the censuses metropolitan areas – the neighbouring communities or municipalities — situated around the largest urban centres of Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert.  Due to their proximity to the urban centres and high rate of retail, workplace and service integration, they will be included even if their independent populations are less than 5,000 residents.

For residents in other communities, health officials strongly recommend wearing a non-medical mask anywhere outside the home.

COVID-19 AND HUMAN RIGHTS

COVID-19 is an unprecedented crisis that continues to affect day-to-day life in many ways. This sometimes includes accessing the public services and places that are open to the public. In uncertain and challenging times like these, human rights are paramount. It is critical that people know their human rights, acknowledge the rights of others, and understand their protections under The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. The Commission encourages everyone to keep human rights central in decision making throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of the spread of COVID-19, a provincial state of emergency was declared on March 18, 2020. The state of emergency is ongoing. New Public Health Orders have recently been issued by the Chief Medical Health Officer implementing new restrictions on all persons in Saskatchewan.

Visit saskatchewan.ca/covid19 to find out more about COVID-19 in Saskatchewan.

The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission also maintains a Business Help Line for employers to access: 1-800-667-9249

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, some of the Commission’s employees will be working remotely to comply with social distancing recommendations. The Commission encourages people to contact us via phone, email, fax, or mail.

DISCRIMINATION AND COVID-19

People who have contracted, or are perceived to have contracted, COVID-19 could be considered to have a disability, as defined by The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. As such, discrimination against person who have, or are perceived to have, COVID-19 – for reasons unrelated to public health and safety – may be prohibited under the Code.

Discrimination related to COVID-19 runs contrary to the Code when it involves a prohibited ground, and takes place in what are often called the social areas of life– such as employment, education, and public services.

Employers, as well as housing and service providers, should keep human rights in mind to ensure that any actions they take or restrictions made pertaining to COVID-19 are consistent:

  • with the Code,
  • with the most recent advice from medical and public health officials, and
  • are justified for health and safety concerns.

 

For more information about COVID-19 and Human Rights go to the links below: