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COVID-19 enforcement ramps up as B.C. breaches lead to over $280,000 in fines

That number includes over $203,000 in provincial fines and over $78,000 in fines under the Federal Quarantine Act
Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, announces new powers for police and other law enforcement, Aug. 21, 2020. Farnworth escalated those orders Dec. 16. - Photograph via B.C. Government/Flickr

A day after B.C. Premier John Horgan said his government would be “beefing up” enforcement measures, the government has confirmed it has poured more resources into inspections, policing and collections of COVID-19 related fines. 

As of Dec. 16, in-person WorkSafe BC inspections will ramp up, focusing on workplaces with known transmissions of COVID-19; unpaid and overdue tickets issued because of a breach in a COVID-19 health order will be sent directly to collections; and police and other law enforcement agencies will receive additional funding to enforce COVID-19 orders.

Mike Farnworth, MLA for Port Coquitlam and Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, has instructed gaming investigators, conservation officers, community safety unit inspectors, and liquor and cannabis inspectors to “actively support police and increase COVID-19 enforcement during their normal course of duties or when in public places,” according to a government press release.

"Provincial enforcement officers can already issue violation tickets, but we want to increase the use of the tools available to them,” said Farnworth in a written statement. 

“This will put more boots on the ground to actively enforce Emergency Program Act orders and better ensure we can penalize those who insist on putting their own selfishness above public health.”  


The Insurance Corporation fo B.C. has also received direction from Farnworth to send “deemed-guilty offenders immediately to collections,” shortening a payment grace period from up to a year down to 30 days - the time someone who receives a ticket has to dispute a ticket.


Any non-emergency contraventions of the gathering or mask orders can be reported to local bylaw officers, who are then able to pass on any serious cases to police or WorkSafe BC. 

Note that police have discretion in how and when they issue tickets for violations of the Emergency Program Act. They are also able to pursue charges (possibly leading to more fines and jail time) if a fine does not act as an effective deterrent. 


Between Aug. 21 and Dec. 14, 290 tickets were issued across the province due to breaches of the provincial health officer’s orders. Those include: 

  • 45 $2,300 tickets to owners or organizers in breach of the provincial gatherings and events order;
  • 21 $2,300 violation tickets for contravention of the PHO Food and Liquor Serving Premises Order;
  • And 224 $230 tickets issued to individuals who refused to comply with direction from law enforcement.

A further 72 violations of the Federal Quarantine Act have led to $78,500 in tickets to people in B.C.



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