The B.C. government is getting rid of fine payment reminders in order to make COVID-19 rule-breakers pay their fine within 30 days of a court ruling or dispute period ending.
The province is asking ICBC, which collects ticket fines on behalf of the government, to send deemed-guilty offenders immediately to collections. The province has historically given people up to a year before referring a fine to collections.
“The provincial health officer’s directions and the solicitor general’s orders are clear,” Premier John Horgan said.
“Right now, we all need to mask up in indoor public spaces and not gather with anyone outside our household, and today’s expanded enforcement measures will help us change behaviours and bend the curve of infections back down.”
B.C. to increase enforcement of COVID-19 rules
From Aug. 21 to Dec. 14, officials issued 290 violation tickets linked to COVID-19 rules.
This includes 45 $2,300 tickets to owners or organizers contravening the provincial health officer’s order on gatherings and events and 21 $2,300 violation tickets for contravention of the PHO Food and Liquor Serving Premises Order.
Law enforcement has handed out 224 $230 tickets issued to individuals who refused to comply with direction from law enforcement.
Since the pandemic began, police agencies in British Columbia have issued 72 violation tickets to individuals who were in contravention of the Federal Quarantine Act, totaling $78,500.
The provincial government is also expanding who can flag rule breakers. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth has asked gaming investigators, conservation officers, community safety unit inspectors, and liquor and cannabis inspectors to actively support the police and increase COVID-19 enforcement during their normal course of duties or when in public places.
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“Our police departments have been working hard to educate the public and issue violation tickets when necessary,” Farnworth said.
“Provincial enforcement officers can already issue violation tickets, but we want to increase the use of the tools available to them. 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 province has asked WorkSafeBC to enhance its inspection presence in workplaces by reducing reliance on virtual checks and move to more in-person inspections, particularly in sectors where COVID-19 transmission is occurring.
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This will include areas like processing plants, where the province has flagged concerns of high COVID-19 transmission.
“From the start of the pandemic, WorkSafeBC officers have been doing an admirable job conducting inspections and enforcing compliance with the requirement to have a COVID-19 safety plan,” Labour Minister Harry Bains said.
“Increasing in-person inspections in sectors of particular concern will help prevent future outbreaks and aligns with our co-ordinated approach to COVID-19 enforcement. Our government is firmly committed to keeping people safe at work.”
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