A Manitoba judge has denied a stay requested by Springs Church to host drive-in services.

Chief Justice Glenn D. Joyal issued his ruling just before 1 p.m. Saturday.

Joyal says there is a strong public interest in maintaining Manitoba's current public health orders.

After hearing arguments earlier in the morning, Joyal ruled that an exemption would not be granted to Springs Church in the face of Manitoba's public health orders that prohibit gatherings larger than five people.

A three-prong test established in the 1995 case RJR-MacDonald Inc. v. Canada was used as the test for determining whether the stay would be granted.

The test requires that three aspects be met in order to obtain the high requirements to justify granting a stay in the case.

Joyal ruled that while the case did satisfy the requirement of being a serious issue under section one of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it did not satisfy the final two prongs of irreparable harm and favour on a balance of convenience.

Joyal says it was "not communicated how (drive-in services) enhance the religious experience."

He noted believers are able to virtually attend religious services and practice their religion in their households.

"A remote service in your home is at least very similar to a remote service in your car," Joyal says.

On the balance of convenience requirement, the judge noted the equal, if not greater importance of the current public health orders for the province.

"Courts must assume that laws enacted by democratically-elected representatives are for the public good," Joyal says.

While Springs pastor Leon Fontaine asserted individuals attending the drive-in services were directed to remain in their cars and access to the church building was not permitted, Joyal says the definition of gathering does not exempt people gathering in a collective under their own self-directive measures.

The judge did note the clear care taken by Fontaine in facilitating the opportunity for a collective community gathering.

However, the judge ruled that "however useful and however noble" these actions were, they were nonetheless not incorporated into the currently prevailing health order.

The judge did not contradict that social services are being provided throughout the pandemic by the church. However, Joyal says the Church In Our Cars services is not providing a social service.