Alberta's list of essential services isn't ready yet, but it's already shaping up to be quite different than that of other provinces. Premier Jason Kenney announced on Wednesday, March 25 that the province is currently in the process of drafting a list of essential services to remain open during COVID-19. He's also confirmed that Alberta's essential services list will include the oilsands and energy sector.
"We have been working diligently on developing a list on what constitutes critical infrastructure and essential services," Kenney said in the province's daily press conference on the COVID-19 crisis.
The government is working with the Alberta Emergency Management Agency to determine what kind of businesses will be included on the list.
Kenney said that the government expects to settle on the criteria and the list of essential services by "early next week."
Five other provinces in the country have already ordered all non-essential services to close down in light of the pandemic.
As of now, Kenney's government is looking at these provinces as well as some U.S. states to determine a possible template to help Alberta come up with a list.
However, he did admit that Alberta's economy has some unique aspects to it, one of which is the "large energy sector." Kenney added that the continuing operation of certain oil sands is "essential."
He reasoned that if those projects shut down, a permanent risk will be imposed on the reservoirs, the billions of dollars of investment as well as on what Kenney deems as a "critical part of the Canadian economy."
Kenney has confirmed that Alberta's list of essential services will be more expansive than others because it will include energy production.
He thinks is list will end up being quite similar to Ontario and Massachusetts' lists.
In addition to potentially suspending all non-essential businesses in the near future, the provincial government has already ramped up penalties for anyone who doesn't follow self-isolation guidelines, including fines up to $1000.
The government has already banned all gatherings over 50 people as part of the province's state of emergency measures.
They are also mandating all travellers arriving from outside Canada to self-isolate for 14 days. Kenney also had some strong words for snowbirds returning home at this time.