Canada's Covid-19 measures still in effect
Social media posts claim that courts in Canada have "revoked" Covid-19 emergency orders, and that mask mandates and other public health measures are unlawful. This is misleading; one order in the country's largest province, Ontario, was revoked on June 9, 2021, but the courts had nothing to do with it, and the province still has regulations which try to limit the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
"Canadian Court Ends Covid Emergency | Mask Mandates, Lockdowns, & Emergency Use Jab are now Unlawful," reads the title of a July 11, 2021 video on BitChute that has been viewed tens of thousands of times.
In the video, a man affiliated with the group Awake Canada -- which says it can teach its members to "lawfully disobey" Covid-19 restrictions -- claims that "on June 9th, the emergency orders were revoked without any mention from the media."
A second man in the video claims that "back on June 9th, the declaration of emergency here in Canada was ended by the courts... The court cases were all won, and therefore the mask mandates are no longer in effect."
But the regulation the videos refer to as support for their claim did not apply to all of Canada. It is a provincial declaration of emergency on the government of Ontario's website.
Bryan Thomas, adjunct professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa, said on July 15, 2021 that Ontario did revoke a declaration of emergency under its Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) on June 9, 2021. But this was not done by the courts and "would have been headline news" if it had been, he said.
Even though the emergency has been lifted, regulations related to the pandemic are enforceable under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act.
"The revocation of the declaration of emergency, under the EMCPA, does not affect regulations enacted under the Reopening Ontario Act," Thomas said.
He added that even if Ontario lifted its mask mandate, municipal orders such as Toronto's would remain in force.
In any case, Andrew McDougall, assistant professor in Canadian politics and public law at the University of Toronto, said on July 15, 2021 : "There is still a mask mandate in the province for most indoor space."
He called the claims in the videos "very misleading."
As the number of Covid-19 cases in Ontario continues to drop from an April 2021 peak, the province has adopted a three-step approach to progressively roll back restrictions enacted to curb the spread of the virus. Lifting regulations is contingent on "the province-wide vaccination rate" and "improvements in key public health and health care indicators," according to the provincial government's website.
Step three, which went into effect on July 16, allows gyms and cinemas to reopen, and indoor dining at restaurants will be permitted. However, certain public health measures remain, including limitations on gatherings, physical distancing and mandatory mask-wearing in certain settings.
Brent Ross, spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General, also confirmed that "orders remain in effect under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to Covid- 19) Act, 2020, including those orders that involve masking requirements."
"Any individual or corporation that fails to comply with any of those orders could be charged with an offense under the applicable Act in accordance with the Provincial Offences Act," he concluded.
This is not the first time that legal documents have been used in disinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic in Canada. AFP Fact Check examined false claims that the Supreme Court was hearing a case about Covid-19 "crimes" here, and other false claims about Canada's Covid-19 public health measures being illegal or lifted were examined here and here.
Federally, Canada continues to require that "all travelers six years and older wear a face mask large enough to cover their mouth, nose and chin" when flying.
Masks mandates have also spurred numerous false and misleading claims, which AFP Fact Check examined here.