Justice Centre warns Alberta Government that strict quarantine requirement is incarceration and unconstitutional


CALGARY: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has issued a legal warning to Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro on behalf of a Calgary businesswoman who is prohibited from leaving her home even to walk alone with her Golden Retriever, pictured above. Strict house arrest is not a requirement of the applicable Chief Medical Officer of Health but rather is listed on an Alberta Government COVID-19 information sheet published back in March 2020.

The woman, whose identity is not currently being publicly released, was required to travel outside of the country in order to keep her small business operational. She was informed by Alberta Health Services on September 17, 2020 that upon her return to Alberta, she would not be permitted to leave her house even to walk her energetic and active dog, even if she maintained at least two metres of physical distancing from any other people.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s CMOH Order 05-2020 states:

For the purposes of this Order, Quarantine includes the following restrictions and requirements:
(a) remaining at home;
(b) not attending work, school, social events or any other public gatherings;
(c) not taking public transportation; and
(d) watching for symptoms, as set out below, in themselves or in a family member.

“The Alberta Government interpretation of Dr. Hinshaw’s quarantine order is unreasonable and arbitrarily confines people to essentially house arrest, even in circumstances where leaving their home would cause zero risk of COVID-19 transmission,” states Marty Moore, staff lawyer with the Justice Centre.

“Prohibiting people who have recently traveled from going outside to take their dog for a walk—in complete isolation from other people—is an unnecessary and inhumane requirement that is not justified under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Forcing people to remain confined in their homes for 14 days with no exceptions will have a negative impact on their mental and physical health,” states Moore.

The Justice Centre has requested a response from Minister Shandro no later than Friday, September 25, 2020.

“We are calling on the Alberta Government to immediately correct its unreasonable and overbroad quarantine requirement, or we may be forced to commence legal proceedings to defend our client’s—and many other Albertans’—Charter right to liberty,” continues Moore. “Our client has not committed any crime, yet she has been informed that she is to be incarcerated in her home. House arrest is used in the criminal context for a reason: it is a punishment.”