Is It Mandatory To Wear A Mask In Public In Canada? Depends On Where You Live.

Melanie Woods

Do you have to wear a mask? Well, it depends on where you live. 

While Canada’s chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam formally recommended mask use when social distancing is not possible in late May, most provinces have not taken steps to implement regulations around mask-wearing. 

But recent weeks have seen numerous municipalities move to mandate mask wearing through bylaws and regulations. 

Provinces and the feds have shied away from straight-up mandating masks for a host of reasons. Enforcement at that level is difficult, the outbreak situation can vary widely across each province, and many officials warn that improper mask use can actually do more harm than good.

A woman wears a face mask as she looks on at an open shopping mall in Montreal on June 20, 2020.

Municipalities across the country are moving to enact and enforce mandatory mask wearing in specific settings like public transit or indoor spaces where people gather. This week, a group of over 900 doctors and medical professionals released an open letter calling for policies like this in densely populated areas and those with community spread. 

The letter’s authors compared mask wearing to bicycle helmets or seatbelts as a health measure that would benefit from regulation.

But the new rules coming into play — and how they’re enforced — vary from city to city. 

Here’s what you need to know about five Canadian cities and their mask policies. 


On Tuesday the City of Toronto passed a bylaw to make mask wearing indoors mandatory. The bylaw will take effect July 7 and last until the next city council meeting in September. It mandates mask wearing in indoor settings the public has access to, such as grocery stores and malls.

It comes on the recommendation of medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa.

“Our experience has been that Torontonians are interested in protecting our city and protecting their families, their neighbours, their friends and we see this as the next logical step,” de Villa said during a news conference Tuesday.

Masks are already required or encouraged on public transit in many cities across Canada. 

Mayor John Tory said the bylaw would not rely on...

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