Hundreds of B.C. COVID-19 rule breakers slapped with fines since August

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – B.C. has handed out 290 tickets to people breaking COVID-19 public health orders between Aug. 21 and Dec. 14 totaling $203,320 in fines.

Broken down, the province says 45 $2,300 tickets were given to owners or event organizers going against public health orders banning gatherings and 21 $2,300 tickets were given to businesses and people in contravention of the food and liquor orders. Meanwhile, 224 $230 tickets were handed to individuals refusing to follow orders.

In addition to these tickets, the province reports 72 fines have been handed to people breaking the federal Quarantine Act. These tickets total $78,500.

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These figures come after Premier John Horgan announced B.C. would be stepping up enforcement of its COVID-19 orders over the coming weeks.

“There are those who are not prepared to bend a little bit in their personal lives to the benefit of all of us collectively,” he said Monday. “We’re going to ask you to be working with law enforcement to ensure that our public health orders are in place, and being acted upon. That means holding rule breakers accountable.”

The province said those who are caught repeatedly violating public health orders could face higher fines.

Police may recommend charges in relation to an offence if it is found tickets are not acting as a deterrent, “or in cases of particularly egregious contraventions or repeat offenders.”

Offenders sent directly to collections

In addition to asking gaming investigators, conservation officers, community safety unit inspectors, and liquor and cannabis inspectors to support police in enforcement, the province has also directed ICBC to take a harder stance.

ICBC, which collects fines on behalf of the province, has been told to now send those caught breaking the rules straight to collections after the dispute period ends. This is a change from normal circumstances, during which a person fined may be sent payment reminders for up to a year before their account is sent to collections.

“ICBC will now eliminate this reminder period and instead send unpaid files directly to collections as soon as the initial 30-day payment or dispute period ends, or an offender is found guilty in court,” the province says.

Meanwhile, WorkSafe is ramping up its inspections of B.C. businesses.

British Columbians are being reminded to report non-emergency contraventions of public health orders to their local bylaw offices.

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