Some business owners are looking for clarity in regard to what qualifies as an essential business and what does not, so most of the provinces and territories have issued guidelines. Across the country, grocery stores were considered to be essential. Aside from grocery stores, what is deemed "essential" depends on which province or territory that your business is located in.

Essential Businesses by Province/Territory:


Essential Businesses

British Columbia

Health services, law enforcement, public safety, first responders, vulnerable population service providers, critical infrastructure service providers, food and agriculture service providers, transportation, manufacturing, sanitation, communications/IT, and other non-health essential service providers.


Health and medical, public safety and security, food and shelter, energy, utilities, transportation, industrial, oil and gas, construction, agriculture, essential retail, financial services, information and telecommunications, and public administration and government.


Transportation and logistics, media and communications, construction maintenance/repair, grocery stores, restaurants (take-out only), hotels, financial services, public health services, and law enforcement.


Supply chain, retail and wholesale, telecommunications and IT services, transportation, manufacturing, construction, finance, and more.


Grocery stores, convenience stores, liquor stores, pet supply stores, gas stations, pharmacies, take-out restaurants, and more.


Grocery stores, pharmacies, take-out restaurants.

New Brunswick

Take-out restaurants, grocery stores, post offices, gas stations, banks, and liquor stores.

Nova Scotia

Grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, construction sites, health care services, and criminal justice services.

Prince Edward Island

Grocery stores, health services, law enforcement, auto repair, pet supplies, take-out restaurants, banks, and convenience stores.

Newfoundland & Labrador

Grocery stores, take-out restaurants, accommodations, gas stations, pet supplies, public transit, pharmacies, and auto repair.


Healthcare workers and caretakers, restaurant employees, retail clerks including grocery stores, agriculture workers, news organizations, energy industry workers, transportation of goods, call centres, and construction fields.

Northwest Territories

Grocery stores, take-out restaurants, accommodations, gas stations, healthcare facilities, financial services, and manufacturing,


Grocery stores, take-out restaurants, accommodations, gas stations, healthcare facilities, and manufacturing, among others.


What qualifies as an essential business in Canada?

Across Canada, grocery stores were considered an essential business and remained open. Each province had its own guidelines as to what else qualified as an essential business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Can my business remain open if it is considered non-essential?

In some provinces, like British Columbia, some non-essential businesses were allowed to remain open if they complied with the government's guidelines regarding social distancing. Currently, all business typefaces are allowed to operate.

Can I get government support if my business has to close?

The government implemented several measures to support non-essential businesses in Canada that were forced to close.

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