Our Cause Alberta

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Information On Masks

If possible, always carry a copy of the local bylaw exemption page for your area. Also, carry a copy of the current Health Order exemption page (42-2020 Section 24).

If you have a medical exemption you can prove, then you can also quote the Alberta Human Rights Act (AHRA). Note to make a complaint under AHRA, you will need to prove you have a valid medical exemption.

Businesses are not required, nor do they have the authority, to POLICE the Bylaw or Provincial Orders. Any Police Officer, Peace Officer, Bylaw Officer, AHS employee or Professional Body who tries to coerce a business or person into enforcing such an Order could be potentially be challenged and should be discouraged from such behaviour. If they do this to a person unable to wear a mask due to protected class (religion, age, disability etc.) they would also be committing an offence under the AHRA.

If you are being coerced to enforce any mask Orders by any other person, request they put this in writing. Record them in their attempts to coerce you and follow up with a Police and AHRA complaint as applicable.

Businesses should be completing a risk assessment under the Provincial Order 42-2020 Section 24 (h) as related to masks. This may require your staff to NOT wear masks or face shields if it impacts their ability to work safely. This assessment, under the OH&S regulations only requires a ‘competent person’ designated by the business to complete this assessment. If you have had a course on mask/respirator use, you would be considered a competent person.

Businesses requiring employees to wear a mask under these Orders must also ensure they have met all aspects of a risk analysis or they could be committing offences against their employees.

Is the Mask FIT? The four aspects of a risk assessment.

  1. FIT for Purpose
    1. Has the mask or face covering been proven to be ‘FIT FOR PURPOSE” i.e. to prevent the spread of an airborne virus? The answer is most likely NO as there is no generally available mask or face covering certified to do this.
      What does the manufacturer of the mask or face covering state this device is capable of doing? If it does not meet the requirement by design or by use, of a viral suppressing medical intervention respirator/mask, then it is not fit for purpose.
  2. Is the person FIT to wear the mask?
    1. Have you ensured that your staff do not or will not experience any harmful effects related to the mask or face covering? Do your staff understand any and all risks of masking (CO2, bacterial and viral build up, unnecessary distractions, mental health impacts, existing or future health concerns etc.) Note that a medical exemption is only required for an AHRA complaint, not for the Bylaw or Provincial Orders.

Note that the Government of Canada has NOT called a State of Emergency or mandated masks across the country. As such, the Government is either negligent if it thinks there is a risk, or doesn’t think there is a reasonable risk to justify such an Order. At this time, the Government of Canada states it is only a recommendation. What other information do YOU have that would make this a safe requirement for your staff or customers?

  1. Is it FIT to the person?
    1. Even if you have moved through the first two processes, any mask or face covering has to be properly FITTED to you to ensure it works for point 1, and doesn’t cause issues for point 2.
  2. Is it FIT for the environment?
    1. As a mask can be taken off in many circumstances in the same environment i.e. when eating, drinking, regular breaks etc. and there is no separation of atmosphere between the mask wearing and non-mask wearing areas, the risk is not environmental. So, what is the risk? It is unlikely any business can meet this final criteria.

Example, if you wear a mask for removal of asbestos, you don’t get to sit down in that area and take the mask off to eat or drink! You have to leave the contaminated area! Also, if you are forcing someone to wear a mask because they MIGHT be asymptomatic, are they ONLY asymptomatic when you force them to wear a mask? What about when they eat, drink or go for a break on their own?

Even if a business has met all of these requirements, they have to provide the mask (suitable to meet all the above) and also provide training in the proper donning, doffing, storage, disposal and infection control risk protocols for such a device (length of use, reusable vs single use etc.)