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Mike Farnsworth

B.C. expands ticket enforcement, workplace safety measures in fight against COVID-19

Thursday, December 17, 2020 @ 9:49 AM | By Ian Burns

B.C. is cracking down on people who violate public health restrictions by expanding provincial COVID-19 ticket enforcement and is increasing workplace inspections.

Under the changes announced Dec. 16, gaming investigators, conservation officers, community safety unit inspectors and liquor and cannabis inspectors have been directed to support police and increase COVID-19 enforcement during their normal course of duties or when in public places.

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said the move “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.”

“Our police departments have been working hard to educate the public and issue violation tickets when necessary,” he said. “Provincial enforcement officers can already issue violation tickets, but we want to increase the use of the tools available to them.”

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), which collects ticket fines on behalf of government, has also been directed to send deemed-guilty offenders immediately to collections. Currently, payment reminders may be sent to guilty offenders for up to a year before the overdue account is sent to collections. ICBC will now eliminate this reminder period and instead send unpaid files directly to collections as soon as the initial 30-day payment or dispute period ends, or an offender is found guilty in court.

Additionally, 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.

“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,” said Minister of Labour Harry Bains. “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.”

Under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act and by order of the provincial health officer (PHO), all events and gatherings are suspended until Jan. 8 unless they have an exemption. People and businesses can be issued a violation ticket of either $230 or $2,300 for non-compliance, depending on the circumstances.

B.C. public health officials confirmed an additional 640 COVID-19 cases in the province Dec. 16, along with 24 more deaths.

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