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Coronavirus: Alberta government proposes amendments to emergency act

Residents and staff wave to family and friends who came out to show support for those in Calgary's McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre amid the COVID-19 crisis on Thursday, April 2, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

The government of Alberta announced Tuesday proposed amendments to the Emergency Management Act in an effort to improve clarity and co-ordination between local and provincial responses to the coronavirus crisis.

Proposed amendments include:

  • allowing states of local emergency to last for 90 days, up from seven
  • clarifying language that it is an offence to disobey orders made under states of emergency
  • clarifying that the minister has the power to modify a state of emergency without terminating it
  • clarifying that a provincially declared state of emergency can be for a pandemic in general — not just a pandemic influenza

READ MORE: Calgary declares local state of emergency due to COVID-19, prompting libraries, rec centres to close

The government said it consulted with Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer on the changes, which will “help the province effectively respond” to the outbreak.

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“As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, so does the need to strengthen our response efforts,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu in a news release.

READ MORE: Edmonton declares local state of emergency over COVID-19, suspends some fees for citizens

“This includes listening to our municipal partners and making amendments to the Emergency Management Act that work for both local and provincial governments. We are all in this together, and we must work together to protect Albertans.”

The Alberta government said it amended the act on March 20, letting local and provincial states of emergency coexist at the same time. Before that change, a provincial state of emergency nullified a local one, “taking some powers away from local officials,” the Alberta government said.

READ MORE: Premier Jason Kenney declares COVID-19 public health emergency in Alberta

Premier Jason Kenney declared a public health emergency on March 17.