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


Workers performing duties in an essential service or function identified in this document may not be equally exempted from the “Minimizing the Risk of COVID-19 in Canada Orders” which prohibit entry of foreign nationals into Canada or from the 14-day mandatory isolation requirements issued pursuant to the Quarantine Act.

The Orders and associated Group Exemptions are found at the following link:

Canada’s National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure defines critical infrastructure as the processes, systems, facilities, technologies, networks, assets, and services essential to the health, safety, security or economic well-being of Canadians and the effective functioning of government. The Strategy classifies critical infrastructure in Canada according to ten sectors:

A number of jurisdictions within Canada have announced that business closures and border measures are in effect. Provincial and territorial announcements have highlighted that only organizations necessary to provide “essential services” are permitted to operate.

Public Safety Canada has developed a set of functions deemed essential in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic to help provinces/territories, Indigenous communities, and municipalities protect their communities while maintaining the reliable operation of critical infrastructure services and functions to ensure the health, safety, and economic well-being of the population. These services and functions can also help the private sector self-identify as essential.

These services and functions are considered essential to preserving life, health and basic societal functioning. These include, but are not limited to, the functions performed by first responders, health care workers, critical infrastructure workers (e.g., hydro and natural gas), and workers who are essential to supply critical goods such as food and medicines. Workers who deliver essential services and functions should continue to do their jobs provided they have no symptoms of COVID-19 disease. Employers of these workers should take all possible steps to protect their health and safety by implementing practices and procedures recommended by public health authorities and providing appropriate protective equipment and products. Further, workers who can perform their tasks remotely should do so.

Municipal, provincial, territorial or Indigenous jurisdictions have the legislative authority to implement and execute response actions within their jurisdictions, while Public Safety Canada has a key role to play to facilitate and enable critical infrastructure security and resilience.

As many organizations are determining what services and functions are essential to the continuity of operations and incident response, Public Safety Canada has compiled 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 it be considered to be a federal directive or standard.

This set of essential services and functions (Annex A) was developed in consultation with industry representatives. Public Safety Canada will continually consult on, and amend the list as events unfold. For specific questions and guidance on essential services and functions, please contact the appropriate authorities in your respective jurisdiction.

Annex A: Essential Services and Functions by Critical Infrastructure Sector




Information and Communication Technologies


Information Technology

Energy and Utilities

Electricity industry

Natural and propane gas workers in

Petroleum workers in


Essential transportation workers are defined as workers supporting or enabling transportation functions in any transportation mode (i.e. road, air, rail, marine), in support of the continued essential movement of goods and people, in circumstances where non-essential travel is restricted. For greater clarity, this includes but is not limited to:





Other Services

If you are looking to determine if a specific job or service is deemed essential, please review the list of essential businesses / services / functions published by your province or territory (hyperlinks below). If you require additional clarity, please contact your provincial or territorial government. Your provincial or territorial government, not the federal government, has the authority to make these determinations.

For information and inquiries regarding the new salary top-up for low-income essential workers under the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, and information and inquiries regarding the Canadian Emergency Student Benefit , please visit, for the most up-to-date information.

The set of essential services and functions (Annex A) is meant to be broadly representative. Should it not sufficiently reflect the services and functions of critical infrastructure workers / employees, please send an email to to request that a service or function be added to one of the categories above.

Date modified: