The BC government has created a ministerial order that protects amateur sport organizations, their employees and volunteers from COVID-19 liabilities, provided they comply with public health orders and provincial sport guidelines.
"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," stated Lisa Beare, minister of tourism, arts and culture in a media release on June 10. "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, according to the release. 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. 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, according to the release. 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," stated viaSport CEO Charlene Krepiakevich. "This coordinated 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."
There are 72 funded provincial sport organizations and 4,100 local sport organizations with over 800,000 youth and adult participants throughout BC.
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, according to the release.