Nova Scotia - Filing a Human Rights Complaint

Nova Scotia – Filing a Human Rights Complaint

Instructions, Resources and Help lines

If you have been denied service due to not wearing a mask, business owners could be held liable for a fine (up to $75,000 as it varies in each province) if you file a human rights complaint.


Interesting articles from CBC News:

In Nova Scotia, masks are mandatory in most indoor public spaces, but the province said from the get-go it won’t penalize people who disobey the rule.  When Nova Scotia made masks mandatory as of July 31, the government announced that … they would not be enforcing the mask policy.

Elaine Gibson, who works at Dalhousie’s Health Law Institute reported to CBC back in November 2020 N.S. retailers shouldn’t enforce mandatory mask rule.


Federal Privacy Act: Nobody has the right to request to see an exemption. It is a violation of your privacy rights under the Privacy Act. This is your personal medical information between you and your physician.

What is personal information under the Privacy Act?  Click Here Privacy Act

“The Privacy Act offers protections for personal information, which it defines as any recorded information “about an identifiable individual.”

 According to the CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH ORDER you are exempt from wearing a mask for the following reasons:


5.18 Notwithstanding section 5.17, a person is exempt from the requirement to wear a
mask in a public place if the person:

(a) is less than 2 years of age or age 2 to 4 years and their caregiver cannot
persuade them to wear a mask;
(b) for whom the wearing of a mask is not possible because of the person’s
medical condition;
(c) is reasonably accommodated by not wearing a mask in accordance with the
Nova Scotia Human Rights Act;
(d) is in the public place receiving care or being provided a service or while
participating in a physical or other activity requiring the mask be removed, in
which case the person may remove the mask for the duration of the care, service
or activity;
(e) removes the mask momentarily for identification or ceremonial purposes;
(f) is in a courtroom, jury room or secured area in a courthouse, or room where a
proceeding or meeting of an administrative tribunal established by legislation is
being held;
(g) is consuming food or a beverage in a restaurant, in a food court at a shopping
centre or food store, in a liquor licensed establishment, movie theatre or in any
other location where food or beverages are being served used;
(h) is a performer or officiant in the course of performing activities requiring
vocalization such as talking or singing at an event or activity as described in
section 5.4; or
(i) is within a room in a public place referred to in section 5.16(f) attending a business meeting with a maximum of 10 persons in attendance.


Understand public health directives and how this may impact you and your surroundings including the impact on dependents and various public and private environments.

  • If you have medical concerns with the public health directives, speak with your medical professional about your concerns and follow their advice.
  • Your medical professional can determine what is medically required for you based on your specific condition. They will be able to determine your specific needs and what limitations may be applicable. This will allow you to better navigate social interactions in public environments.
  • Be proactive and seek alternatives to how services can be delivered if you are medically or on the basis of another protected characteristic, unable to wear a mask. This could be a phone call to the store/employer in advance so that the accommodation process can be initiated.

In addition, workers have rights and employers have obligations for workers’ health and safety under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

  • Organizations should make clear the reasons why a mask or other equipment or procedure is needed in the circumstances.
  • Organizations should recognize that health and safety requirements, including masks, could have a negative impact on vulnerable populations identified by a protected ground under the Act, who may not have access to such equipment. Some may not be able to use the equipment or follow a procedure because of their disability or for another protected grounds.
  • It would be beneficial for organizations and employees/clients to have a conversation prior to entry into the business and ask individuals to wear a mask. If the individual identifies that they have a disability or identify another protected ground, and that they are unable to wear a mask, there may be the duty to accommodate. The employer/service provider should work with the individual to come up with an accommodation to provide the service but in an altered way that respects their rights and the public health directives.
  • It is recommended that organizations have other options available to accommodate those who cannot wear a mask. From an employers’ perspective examples of this could be: alternative workspace, work from home, or alternate hours. From a service providers’ perspective, this could be: offer designated hours, online or telephone shopping, or curbside pick-up.

COVID-19 measures must comply with our Constitution, including our Charter, they do not nullify nor supersede them, nor is there any express mention in any such law, statute, regulation, order or Guidance to so do.


Who Can Help?

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission encourages all individuals and organizations to work together to gain a better understanding of how best to work together during this difficult time. Everyone involved should be flexible and explore whether an individual accommodation is possible, including alternative ways a person might safely continue to work or receive a service.

Report is an earlier statement made on Jul 28, 2020

If you believe that your human rights have been violated and that you have a human rights complaint, we encourage you to Contact Us. Speaking with a human rights officer is the first step in our process and allows us to hear details of your complaint, ask questions and determine if it falls within the jurisdiction of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act. Upon your initial inquiry, it is important that the human rights officer who speaks to you understands what the problem is.  It is also important the person or organization being complained about understands the problem.

Complaint Self-Assessment

Filing a human rights complaint:

A complaint should be filed at any of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission’s offices:

Call toll-free in Nova Scotia: 1-877-269-7699

The Commission has three offices around the Province:

Halifax Office

5657 Spring Garden Road
Park Lane Terrace
3rd Fl., Suite 305

Telephone: 902-424-4111
Fax: 902-424-0596

Mailing Address:
PO Box 2221
Halifax, NS
B3J 3C4

Sydney Office

Provincial Building
360 Prince Street
Sydney, NS
B1P 5L1

Phone: 902-563-2142
Fax: 902-563-5613

Digby Office

84 Warwick St.

Mailing address:
PO Box 1029
Digby, NS
B0V 1A0

Phone: 902-245-4791


Disability Rights Coalition of Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Disability Rights are Human Rights


Free general legal advice:


As a Halifax Law Firm, we currently represent clients in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. To learn more about our services or to arrange your free, no obligation, and confidential consultation call us today.

Phone: 902-702-3629



Disclaimer:  This information is not intended to be used as legal or health advice. We encourage you to do your own research.