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Some business owners are looking for clarity in regards 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 are considered to be essential. Aside from grocery stores, what is deemed "essential" depends on which province or territory that your business is located in.

Several provinces are still in the process of compiling lists of essential services.

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, other non-health essential service providers. See the full list.


Alberta has not yet announced a shutdown, but various news sources report that the province is working on a list of essential businesses.


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


Although Manitoba has declared a public emergency, the province has not published a list of essential businesses. Learn more here.


Grocery stores, convenience stores, liquor stores, pet supply stores, gas stations, pharmacies, take-out restaurants. See the full list.


Grocery stores, pharmacies, take-out restaurants.

New Brunswick

Take-out restaurants, grocery stores, post offices, gas stations, banks, liquor stores. See the full list.

Nova Scotia

Grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, construction sites, health care services, criminal justice services. See the full list.

Prince Edward Island

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

Newfoundland & Labrador

Grocery stores, take-out restaurants, accommodations, gas stations, pet supplies, public transit, pharmacies, auto repair. See the full list.


Yukon has not yet mandated the closure of non-essential businesses. Learn more about the current situation.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories has not yet mandated the closure of non-essential businesses. Learn more about the current situation.


Nunavut has not yet mandated the closure of non-essential businesses. Learn more about the current situation.


What qualifies as an essential business in Canada?

Across Canada, grocery stores are being considered an essential business and must remain open. Each province has its own guidelines as to what else qualifies 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 are still allowed to remain open if they comply with the government's guidelines regarding social distancing.

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

The government has implemented several measures to support non-essential businesses in Canada that have been forced to close. Read our full article to learn more.

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