Canada's fight against COVID-19: Constitutionalism, laws, and the global pandemic

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Canada consists of a federal system, with a unique separation of powers. For example, the federal government's role in health has been traditionally to fund and support the provincial and territorial health services, among other things. However, there is also centralization of particular policies, such as during public health crises, consisting of collaboration with provincial governments, whereas the federal government maintains control over things such as travel, entry and exit, and border control. From the perspective of the separation of powers, there is a clear tendency for provincial governments to be enumerated authority in many areas in health and social policy, together with local authority, although for the most part, it is greatly restricted. For example, Toronto Public Health often follows the mandates of the province of Ontario. Decisions of local restrictions, such as the closure of retail spaces, cinemas/movie theaters, malls, and other facilities, as well as the push against mass gatherings in local parks during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic were, at times, advocated by the local governments and municipalities to the provincial government, in which the former claimed some power and authority. At another point in time, the province of Ontario had expressed that the police would have powers to ask motorists questions about where they were going; however, the Toronto Police Services refused to follow this mandate as it could lead to bias and adverse racial tensions or experiences. It led to the provincial government to formally issue an apology. Meanwhile, many different approaches to public health that were implemented by the federal government also affected local governments, which had resulted in restrictions, such as in travel, yet they resulted in positive changes in terms of epidemic containment. While Canada's case count was low compared to the United States and other countries, Canada was slow in its approach to immunizations during the first half of 2021. As of writing this chapter, the number of cases of COVID-19 was 1,460,175, with total deaths of 26,761 (Government of Canada).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationImpacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic
Subtitle of host publicationInternational Laws, Policies, and Civil Liberties
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781119812203
ISBN (Print)9781119812159
StatePublished - Oct 7 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences

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