Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, has given police and other enforcement officers the ability to issue $2,000 violation tickets for price gouging and the reselling of medical supplies and other essential goods during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Effective immediately, these new measures are enacted under the provincial state of emergency, using the extraordinary powers of the Emergency Program Act (EPA) in ongoing support of the Province’s all-of-society approach to COVID-19 response and recovery.
“These orders are not suggestions, they are the law,” said Farnworth, in a news release. “These measures will provide enforcement officers and police agencies the ability to enforce the law on these criminal acts and despicable practices, like the reselling of medical supplies and price gouging.”
The province is calling upon compliance staff from provincial ministries and local governments to support enforcement for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic state of emergency. This includes municipal bylaw officers, liquor and cannabis inspectors, gaming inspectors, conservation officers, community safety unit inspectors, park rangers, natural resource officers, commercial vehicle safety officials and sheriffs.
Police and other enforcement officers are empowered to actively enforce EPA orders and issue $2,000 violation tickets for infractions throughout the COVID-19 state of emergency, focusing on the Province’s ban on reselling essential goods and supplies and price gouging. If required, police and other enforcement officers will also be able to actively enforce and ticket those who:
* exceed the quantity limits on the sale of specified items; and
* do not comply with the requirement for hotel and other lodging operators to provide accommodation at the request of the Province to serve as self-isolation facilities or to support essential workers.
Violation tickets are a timelier alternative to prosecution through the courts and increase the Province’s enforcement toolkit to support the COVID-19 response. Police and other enforcement officers will independently exercise discretion to issue tickets for EPA order violations under the Offence Act’s Violation Ticket Administration and Fines Regulation (VTAFR).
The province is also working with Consumer Protection BC (CPBC) to keep British Columbians safe from businesses and individuals who are trying to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic. CPBC will be the first and main point of contact for all complaints related to price gouging of essential goods and supplies, and will ensure those complaints are resolved appropriately in co-ordination with police and enforcement officers.
These measures are in concert with the federal government’s April 14, announcement that allows local and provincial police forces to issue tickets to returning travellers who do not comply with the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days under the federal Quarantine Act.
* The federal government will continue to use its authority under the Quarantine Act to ensure compliance with the emergency order requiring individuals entering Canada to self-isolate for 14 days.
* Enforcement of orders of the provincial health officer (PHO), including mass gatherings and business closures, will continue to be at the direction of the PHO.
* To report concerns on PHO order violations, contact your local government. Local governments can dispatch bylaw and other compliance officers to follow up on concerns and report appropriately to public health.
* The authority for police officers throughout the province to issue $2,000 violation tickets corresponds with section 27(1)(a) and (b) of the EPA and will be applicable under future states of emergency.
* All other designated enforcement officers around the province can issue $2,000 violation tickets for contraventions of Section 8 (4) and (5) and Section 9 of Ministerial Order 84/2020, and Section 3 of Ministerial Order 115/2020, under the Emergency Program Act. This authority is limited to the duration of the current provincial state of emergency.