Blog: The Wheat Sheaf

Agriculture included in essential service guidelines released by province but federal guidelines not binding


  • The publishing of the Alberta (non-exhaustive) list of essential services came on the heels of the announcement by Minister of Agricultural and Forestry Devin Dreeshen last Friday (March 27, 2020) that the entire national supply chain should be declared an essential service.
  • He mentioned that while the complex supply chain is currently moving well, it is not business as usual and warned of higher prices and food shortages if Canada’s agriculture sector was not treated as essential.
  • Generally, the commissions feel that the provincial guidelines are comprehensive in covering most aspects of the value chain. 


  • As many organizations are determining what services and functions are essential to the continuity of operations and incident response, Public Safety Canada has complied a non-exhaustive list of essential services and functions to support this effort and assist in enabling the movement of critical infrastructure workers within and between jurisdictions.
  • These essential services and functions are advisory in nature. This guidance is not, nor should be considered the federal directive or standard.
  • Since it was released subsequent to most provinces deriving their own lists, and is not directive in nature, it is uncertain how it will be used.
  • Generally, it can serve as a function for those employees and private companies who deliver essential services that they should continue to do their jobs, provided they are following the required safety guidelines.
  • Currently, the federal government is reluctant to employ the Emergencies Act which would provide for a legislative framework to ensure that essential services are maintained throughout the crisis.
  • These are aligned with the list that has been created by the Department of Homeland Security of the United States of America to ensure alignment, while it is still in development with guidance of industry including the agricultural sector.


Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic


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