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Bill 38 is Newfoundland’s COVID-19 “emergency law” that was enacted 7 weeks after the emergency was declared.

The total number of cases in the province at the time was approximately 17 and that number was decreasing for an entire month with the exception of one day.

Why Bill-38 is an Issue

Bill 38 gives “inspectors” – as defined by the Minister – the ability to conduct warrantless searches and gives the police the right to remove individuals to a point of entry, such as an airport or ferry terminal.

The province has also used a Special Measure to ban non-residents from entering the province, with limited exceptions. This amounts to a Newfoundland “travel ban”, as well as essentially legalizing banishment.

We think this is unconstitutional.

Provinces with much higher population densities and COVID cases than Newfoundland have been effectively managing the COVID crisis without resorting to these extreme measures.

CCLA has taken the position that these emergency measures violate numerous Charter rights including mobility rights, the freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, and the freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention.

On May 5, Kim, a Newfoundlander residing in Halifax received one of the toughest phone calls of her life. Her mother, whom Kim had visited every year and talked to on the phone every day, had passed away unexpectedly in Newfoundland. Kim knew about the emergency laws enacted the day before and sought an exemption. Kim had arranged to go to great lengths, including self-isolating at her parents’ house via a back-door entrance to the basement for 14 days. She had even arranged with the funeral director for her mother’s body to be held until Kim’s 14-day self-isolation was completed, at which point the funeral could be held. And she had already been working from home and following the social distancing guidelines of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Kim initially did not receive a response from the government despite emailing and telephoning the number listed on the government’s COVID website. When she did, she was horrified to learn her request had been denied. Kim’s father would have to bury Kim’s mother, his wife of 55 years, without his daughter Kim.

Our Recent Work to Protect Mobility in Canada

2023 Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal

On May 11, 2020, CCLA sent a letter to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador stating our position that Bill 38 was unconstitutional for a number of reasons. We asked that they review the new measures put in place and offered our assistance in the process. The government eventually replied, dismissing our concerns.  

On My 20, 2020, CCLA partnered with Kim to take the Newfoundland government to the province’s Supreme Court over the travel ban and the restrictive measures in Bill 38.  

CCLA asked the Court to declare Bill 38 in violation of s. 6 (mobility rights), as well as other Charter rights because it allows for various investigative steps including detention and removal of individuals from the province without due process. We argued that the law cannot be saved by s. 1, which says that limits on rights must be reasonable and demonstrably justified, but the restrictions on rights in this case are not. CCLA also asked that the travel ban be rescinded.  

The province’s Supreme Court rendered a decision in September of 2020 and while the Court found that the travel ban violated the section 6 Charter right to mobility, it found it could be justified under section 1. CCLA is pursuing this case before the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal will first consider whether it should hear the appeal since the ban is no longer in place. However, all parties in the case are urging the Court to hear and decide the appeal on its merits despite it being technically moot. The case raises novel questions about the scope of mobility rights in Canada and the extent to which government can limit Canadians’ rights to move freely around the country.  

The Timeline


June 13, 2023

Hearing on Mootness before the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal


October 19, 2020

CCLA and Kim Taylor Appeal Decision

CCLA and Kim Taylor have filed a Notice of Appeal to the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal. A hearing date for the appeal has not yet been set, but watch here for updates.

September 17, 2020


The Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court issued a decision that dismissed CCLA and Kim Taylor’s application challenging the province’s travel restrictions. The Court decided that the province was infringing on mobility rights protected by section 6 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but said that the restrictions were reasonable and justified under section 1 of the Charter.


August 4, 2020

CCLA Granted Public Interest Standing

The hearing of the Application challenging the travel restrictions in place in Newfoundland began on August 4, 2020 and is set to continue until August 7. Despite the government of Newfoundland’s objection, the CCLA has been granted public interest standing to join Kim Taylor in challenging the travel ban. The Court did decide that the enforcement provisions contained in the Public Health Protection and Promotion Act (authorizing enhanced search powers and detention powers by the police) could not be challenged by the CCLA at this time.

May 20, 2020

CCLA Files Application.

CCLA and Kim Taylor file Originating Application in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador seeking to have the travel ban and provisions of the Public Health Protection and Promotion Act declared of no force or effect.

May 15, 2020

Attorney General Responds

Attorney General responds to CCLA’s letter dismissing our concerns.

May 11, 2020

CCLA Articulates our Concerns

CCLA writes to the Attorney General of Newfoundland and Labrador and lays out our concerns about the constitutionality of the travel ban order and the amendments made to the Public Health Protection and Promotion Act that authorize increased police and enforcement powers.

Latest Updates and Briefs


CCLA Granted Leave to Challenge Arbitrary Travel Restrictions Before the SCC

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April 26, 2024

Decision in Taylor v. Newfoundland Case

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August 17, 2023

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January 12, 2022

CCLA to Premier Legault: End the Curfew

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January 12, 2022
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August 17, 2021

Letter to Nunavut re: Travel and Self-Isolation Requirements

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June 7, 2021

Letter To NS re: Travel Restrictions

Nova Scotia’s current rules unreasonably restrict fundamental mobility rights invested in Canadian citizens and permanent…
May 11, 2021

Mobility Ladder

Understanding your mobility rights, as protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
April 22, 2021

Letter to NB re: Travel Restrictions

In our view, New Brunswick's current rules unreasonably restrict mobility rights guaranteed to Canadians by…
April 8, 2021

Canadian Rights During COVID-19: Interim Report on COVID’s Second Wave

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March 30, 2021

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March 23, 2021

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March 11, 2021

Better Safe Than Sorry is the Motto of a Police State

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February 19, 2021

Letter to Attorney General and Minister of Transportation re: Recently Imposed Travel Restrictions

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) will challenge the Government of Nova Scotia’s exceptionally broad injunction limiting…
February 8, 2021

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January 14, 2021

CCLA Writes to David Lametti and Marc Garneau: Canadians Must be Allowed to Come Home

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January 6, 2021

CCLA Debates Vaccine Passports on Our Letter that Sparked the Debate

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December 14, 2020

BC Travel Restrictions Unconstitutional, No New Fines Needed

The Canadian and British Columbia Civil Liberties Associations are raising concerns about travel restrictions expected…
November 20, 2020

CCLA to NB: Do not Deny Students Access to Their Schools

Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) to object to the government’s unlawful treatment of students from…
November 10, 2020

Seeking Information About the Province’s Self-Isolation Order for Persons Entering Manitoba

The province of Manitoba currently has a self-isolation requirement for individuals entering the province from…
October 30, 2020

Why Mobility Rights Continue to Matter

Why we’re appealing the decision of the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court of a few…
October 28, 2020

CCLA Writes to YT: Mobility Rights and Travel to Yukon

We are writing you regarding the constitutionality and impact of the Border Control Measures (COVID-19)…
May 28, 2020

CCLA Writes to NU: Mobility Rights and Travel to Nunavut

Regarding mobility rights, pursuant to section 6(2) of the Charter, individuals may take up residence…
May 26, 2020

CCLA Writes to NWT: Mobility Rights and Travel to Northwest Territories

Regarding mobility rights, pursuant to section 6(2) of the Charter, individuals may take up residence…
May 26, 2020

CCLA In The Supreme Court: Mobility Rights

Originating Application Before The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador
May 22, 2020

There Are No Provincial Borders in Canada

The COVID19 provincial and territorial border closures are proving Mackenzie King’s truism that “Canada is…
May 21, 2020

CCLA Writes to PEI: Mobility Rights and Travel to PEI

Regarding mobility rights, pursuant to section 6(2) of the Charter, individuals may take up residence…
May 19, 2020

CCLA Writes to NB: Mobility Rights and Travel to New Brunswick

We are writing you regarding New Brunswick’s recently renewed and revised Mandatory Order related to…
May 15, 2020

CCLA Writes to NL: Reconsider Travel Ban and Bill 38

Pursuant to a Special Measure issued by the Chief Medical Officer of Health (Special Measures…
May 12, 2020

CCLA to Northwest Territories Chief Public Health Officer

We are concerned in particular with the prohibitions on public and private outdoor gatherings contained…
April 20, 2020

CCLA to Nunavut: Concerns Restricting Gatherings

We have grave concerns that the order is unconstitutional. While we appreciate that public health…
April 8, 2020

CCLA to NS Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing: What’s Your Plan?

We are writing regarding the Direction under a Declared State of Emergency that you recently…
March 24, 2020

Update on Air Travel Restrictions for Canadians Returning Home

CCLA asked the feds for more timely transparency by releasing their interim Cabinet orders for…
March 19, 2020

Emergency Orders Declared Across The Country

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March 19, 2020

CCLA Wants to Bring Canadians Home. Now.

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March 19, 2020

What are the Human Rights Implications of Quarantine Orders?

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Statement on Release of New U.S. Travel Restrictions

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