The BC Government announced on Wednesday that it will be increasing enforcement measures on COVID-19 rules and regulations.
Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth has asked gaming investigators, conservation officers, community safety unit inspectors and liquor and cannabis inspectors to actively support police and COVID-19 enforcement as they perform their regular duties.
Farnworth says that provincial enforcement officers can already issue violation tickets and help with resources.
“This will put more boots on the ground to actively enforce Emergency Program Act orders,” he said in a statement.
The Ministry of Public Safety is also directing ICBC to immediately send COVID-19 offenders who are deemed guilty to collections.
Under the current system, payment reminders can be sent to offenders for up to a year before an overdue account is sent to collections.
This move will eliminate the year-long reminder period and send unpaid tickets to collections as soon as the initial 30-day payment or dispute periods ends, or an offender is found guilty in court.
The BC Government has also asked WorkSafeBC to perform more in-person COVID-19 inspections and to reduce reliance on virtual checks.
They say this will help prevent future outbreaks in workplaces.
Premier John Horgan said on Tuesday that the enhanced enforcement was a necessary step despite the majority of British Columbians complying with health orders.
“There are those who are not prepared to bend a little bit in their personal lives to the benefit of all of us collectively,” said Horgan.
“And so consequently we’re going to be beefing up enforcement on health orders.”
The Province says that non-emergency contraventions of mask or gathering orders can be reported to local bylaw officers. These officers in turn can contact police and WorkSafeBC if they deem it necessary.
They add that police should be called if someone becomes threatening or abusive in response to requests to abide by orders.
Between Aug. 21 and Dec. 14, 2020, 290 violation tickets were issued to people in contravention of provincial orders, including 66 $2,300 tickets and 224 $230 tickets.
72 tickets have been issued in B.C. to individuals who were in contravention of the Federal Quarantine Act, totalling $78,500.
“if you’re not prepared to follow the rules, if you’re going to look for loopholes, there’ll be consequences for that,” said Horgan.