Return to Play Updates - June 2020

June 11 2020


British Columbia
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BC Government Issues Ministerial Order to Protect Amateur Sport Organizations from COVID-19 Liability - Rugby Still on National Suspension of Activity



Yesterday the BC Government made a huge announcement, that they were going to remove one of the roadblocks worrying amateur sport organizers, liability claims based on COVID-19. The BC Government announced that the "Government has created a ministerial order that protects amateur sport organizations, their employees and volunteers from liability." It's a first in Canada as far as we know.

The New Westminster Royals responded to the viaSport announcement: "BC Hockey teams were already covered thanks to great work by @HockeyCanada but this is great news for other sports in BC." It looks like Hockey Canada had already worked out the details of COVID-19 liability with their insurance carrier but other sports haven't been as successful.

Taking a quick scan of the amateur sports scene this morning in BC, there haven't been any major changes as organizations take a while to digest the news.

A soccer program in Kamloops plans to kickoff July 6th week and are taking registrations. The program notes at the present time "there must be six feet between people and gatherings are limited to 50 or fewer people per regular-size, 11 vs 11 [player] field." and that they'll design their activities around those restrictions.

On the Island the Times Colonist reports the pro soccer team Pacific FC is back training, the Junior Football team Westshore Rebels are back on the field but just doing conditioning work, the BC Premier Baseball league will start practicing in 10 days focusing on drills with 6 feet distancing.

In Rugby there's still a national suspension of activity by Rugby Canada. Even though BC is the first province to have a ministerial order to protect amateur sport organizations from COVID-19 liability, the national body hasn't delegated the decision-making to the provinces yet. One of the hiccups is that the chair of the national committee making that decision is the CEO of BC Rugby. What now takes priority, the paying job of BC Rugby CEO or the committee position of bringing the country forward at the same time. Hopefully the decision will soon be made to let each province and region move ahead according to their local framework.

One of the silver linings of rugby's cautious response is they'll be able to learn from other amateur sports who have already walked down that path, including setting up waivers, negotiating terms with facilities and creating Return to Play plans that are in compliance with provincial regulations.

from BC Government

British Columbians will be able to get back to playing sports sooner with the Province’s action to protect amateur sport organizations from COVID-19 liabilities, provided they are complying with public health orders and provincial sport guidelines.

Government has created a ministerial order that protects amateur sport organizations, their employees and volunteers from liability.

“We want to make sure children and their families can get the benefits of physical activity and get back to playing the sports they love,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. “Many sports organizations are run by volunteers who need to make sure they are protected for risks related to COVID-19. This order will help cover that risk so people can safely get back to playing sports sooner in their communities.”

Provincial and local sport organizations have identified challenges with obtaining adequate insurance as a result of the pandemic. Most insurance companies are not providing coverage for COVID-19 related damages, meaning many amateur sports were unable to provide sport programming during the pandemic.

The ministerial order protects amateur sport organizations and their representatives from damages resulting, directly or indirectly, from COVID-19 for amateur sports. For example, a sports organization or its representatives will not be liable for a participant in their sports program being exposed to COVID-19 as a result of participation. That liability protection would be in place as long as they follow applicable guidance, such as viaSport’s Return to Sport protocols and public-health guidance on how to prevent the spread of the virus. This guidance includes encouraging proper handwashing, regular disinfecting, limiting shared equipment, physical distancing measures and the use of wellness questionnaires and health self-assessment tools.

"We are thrilled that sport is making its return in the province. Today's announcement is welcome news for our partners in the amateur sport sector,” said Charlene Krepiakevich, CEO of viaSport. “This co-ordinated response to address concerns around volunteer and staff liability means that these not-for-profit organizations can focus on delivering safe, high-quality sport experiences for the people in their communities."

Quick Facts:

- There are 72 funded provincial sport organizations and 4,100 local sport organizations with over 800,000 youth and adult participants throughout B.C.
- ViaSport British Columbia is a not-for-profit organization created with the support of the provincial government in 2011 to lead the province’s sport sector to build a stronger, more effective system that brings more families to the field of play, more fans into the stands, more athletes to the podium and more sports events to the province.

Learn More:

To view the ministerial order, visit: http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/mo/mo/2020_m183

For non-health related information, including financial, child care and education supports, travel, transportation and essential service information, visit: https://www.gov.bc.ca/Covid-19

Or call 1 888 COVID19 (1 888 268-4319) between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Pacific time), seven days a week.

To view the list of the provincial health officer’s orders, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/phoguidance

To learn more about viaSport and the Return to Sport Guidelines, visit: https://www.viasport.ca/sites/default/files/ReturntoSportGuidelines.pdf

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