Ontario social distancing fines: Torontonians face up to $100K

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Ontario social distancing fines: Torontonians face up to $100K
Ontario social distancing fines: Torontonians face up to $100K

Violating the province’s social distancing rules could cost you – up to $100,000.

Toronto Police Service (TPS) and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) will fine people who do not comply with the province’s emergency measures legislation.

At a press conference on Saturday, Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg announced the fines for those that violate provincial orders: up to $100,000 and one year imprisonment for individuals; up to $500,000 and one year imprisonment for a director or officer of a corporation; and up to $10 million for a corporation.

“I also want to be clear that a person can be found guilty of a separate offence on each day that an offence occurs,” said Pegg. “Enforcement action will be taken when warranted and required, but I truly hope that this is not required.”

Toronto Police have not yet enforced any non-compliance reports, but if officers are called upon to do so the fines could be steep, a TPS spokesperson told NOW.

“If requested by Municipal Licensing Standards to enforce non-compliance with Public Health directives, the Toronto Police Service would assist,” said TPS communications rep Meaghan Gray in an email to NOW. “As of today, that has not been requested and, therefore, no fines to report.”

“The city is setting up an enforcement team led by Toronto Public Health,” she said. “City staff will be monitoring and providing information and education to non-compliant individuals and businesses.

“In some cases, enforcement staff will escalate to Toronto Police for further enforcement actions, including the laying of tickets and charges under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Set fines of $750 are available.”

The public can report non-compliant restaurants or large gatherings through 311.

Meanwhile, the OPP announced fine amounts on March 20, explaining officers would enforce the state of emergency declaration Premier Doug Ford announced earlier this week in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The emergency measures restrict gatherings of 50 people; requires that child care centres, libraries, indoor recreational programs, concert and art venues and cinemas shut down; and allows bars and restaurants to operate as takeout and delivery services only.

The Provincial Offences Act (POA) has been updated with fines for failing to comply with an order ($750) and obstructing persons who are exercising powers or performing duties in compliance with the emergency order ($1,000).

Corporations could be fined $500,000 for non-compliance.

While most citizens and businesses have followed the rules, EB Games drew condemnation from Ford, mayor John Tory and Toronto’s medical officer of health Eileen de Villa after it remained open and drew a crowd of customers who lined up outside its Yonge Street store to pick up the new release Animal Crossing.

“This is not an act of good corporate citizenship,” Tory said during a press conference. “Let’s really give our heads a solid shake.”

“I know we had an incident with one of the stores opening and people lining up,” Ford said on Saturday during his daily news briefing. “I noticed they were keeping their distance from each other but we have to use common sense.”

The OPP’s new enforcement measures could result in companies like EB Games – which is not considered an essential service – getting fined half-a-million dollars.

EB Games has since announced it will close all stores.

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