The Ontario government announced today that Toronto and Peel Region will be moving in to the lockdown stage of the province’s new framework as of Nov. 23, and Premier Doug Ford said he’s making it easier for municipalities to issue fines for non-compliance with local rules.
Previously, anyone caught individually breaking the rules outlined in Ontario’s Reopening Ontario Act could be fined $750, while someone found guilty of hosting an illegal private gathering could be slapped with a ticket of up to $10,000.
These fines, however, did not apply to any measures put in place by local medical officers of health — until now.
Speaking during his daily press briefing Friday, Ford announced that his government is amending Ontario Regulation 950 under the Provincial Offences Act in order to allow for a ticket to be issued for any contravention of a COVID-19 specific communicable disease class order issued by a medical officer of health.
“The government will also ask the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice to establish a set fine to be attached to any ticket issued for violating a section 22 order relating to COVID-19 made by a local medical officer of health,” reads a release from the province.
In other words, anyone caught breaking rules put in place by Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, such as the rules introduced last week to prohibit all indoor dining and group fitness classes, will be subject to the same fines as someone caught breaking a provincial rule, such as gathering limits.
While this move does afford more power to municipalities to enforce COVID-19 rules introduced locally, the list of rules and restrictions announced by the province for Toronto today are far stricter than anything the city has implemented and will therefore override Dr. de Villa’s measures when they come into effect on Monday.
The province also announced yesterday that it would be deploying more than 200 officers to crack down on businesses not complying with public health measures.
“We are asking Ontarians to familiarize themselves with the restrictions in place, follow the rules and public health guidance, and support enforcement officers who are working to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones in a statement.
“Our government will continue to work with law enforcement to ensure they have the tools they need to promote public safety and take the enforcement actions needed to prevent unsafe behaviour.”