Metropolis administration says Saskatoon would not have jurisdiction to implement personal COVID-19 restrictions

The City of Saskatoon says it does not have the mandate or the medical knowledge to bring in its own bylaws to limit the spread of COVID-19.

In a report submitted to councillors on Monday, city solicitor Cindy Yelland wrote that Saskatoon is limited in what it can do, as health-related issues are a provincial responsibility.

“We cannot legislate matters that fall under either provincial or federal jurisdiction or that conflict with legislation passed by upper levels of government,” read the report.

In November, council asked administration to write a report detailing what the city’s role should be in dealing with COVID-19. Some councillors had been hearing from frustrated citizens who wanted the city to take a more active role in the pandemic.

The report said the city can bring in laws that address “safety, health and welfare of people and the protection of people and property,” but would need to convince to the province.

“Unlike the province, Saskatoon does not currently have the necessary expert medical advice to make informed decisions about the actions needed to deal with a public health emergency.”

The report mentioned that Regina declared a state of emergency in March due to COVID-19, but it was quickly rescinded after the province said it would likely cancel it and that any provincial declaration would overrule local ones.

The report said Saskatoon could put in additional measures at civic facilities and services, as long as they complied with provincial health orders.

“For example, the city required masks be worn on Saskatoon Transit before the province issued a provincial health order mandating the wearing of masks,” read the report.

“The city continues to monitor our services and facilities to ensure our services are provided safely. If required, additional measures can be implemented.”

The report was presented to council’s governance and priorities committee on Monday.

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