Bill 4: Municipal Masking and Proof of Vaccination Bylaws


On March 8th, Alberta’s Minister of Municipal Affairs introduced Bill 4, the Municipal Government (Face Mask and Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination Bylaws) Amendment Act, 2022 in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.

If passed by the Legislature, Bill 4 will amend the Municipal Government Act (the “MGA”) to limit municipal councils’ authority to enact face mask and proof of COVID-19 vaccination bylaws, unless the municipality receives Ministerial approval for the bylaw.

Relevant Background

As it currently exists, section 7 of the MGA provides municipal councils with broad authority to “pass bylaws for municipal purposes” regarding several different subjects.

In particular, s 7(a) gives councils authority to pass bylaws regarding “the safety, health and welfare of people and the protection of people and property.”

Effect of Bill 4

It is important to recognize that Bill 4 does not eliminate the general municipal power to pass bylaws regarding public health under section 7(a).

Rather, Bill 4 is drafted as a specific carve-out to municipal jurisdiction under section 7. It makes the exercise of municipal bylaw-making authority under section 7 “subject to” a new section 7.1.

Section 7.1 is narrowly-phrased. It prevents councils from enacting bylaws or bylaw amendments that require either:

  • an individual to wear a face mask/covering for the purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19 or;
  • an individual to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test upon entering a premises.

It is also important to note that any face mask or proof of vaccination bylaws currently in effect will automatically be repealed at the time that Bill 4 comes into force.

With that said, section 7.1 does not invalidate any enforcement efforts that were made under face mask or proof of vaccination bylaws when they were in force.

Further, section 7.1 does not apply to a bylaw that applies only to property owned or leased and operated by a municipality.

Request for Ministerial Approval

Finally, it is also important to be aware that Bill 4 leaves the door open for a municipal council to seek Ministerial approval to enact a new face mask or proof of vaccine bylaw, even after Bill 4 comes into effect.

In determining whether to approve a new face mask or proof of vaccine bylaw, the Minister is required to consider the public interest and to consult with the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

We will be monitoring the progress of this Bill and will be updating this post as more information becomes available.

We invite you to reach out to your contact within our Municipal Law Team or to connect with our team leaders Kelsey Becker Brookes and Sean Ward if you have any questions about how this might apply to you.

This post is meant to provide information only and is not intended to provide legal advice. Although every effort has been made to provide current and accurate information, changes to the law may cause the information in this post to be outdated.


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