No COVID-19 Check Stops in Ontario Planned
Thunder Bay – NEWS – During the Ontario “Stay at Home” order, enforcement of COVID-19 legislation is a joint initiative by the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, City By-law Officers, and the Thunder Bay Police Service according to the City of Thunder Bay.
Does this give any new special powers to police and enforcement officers?
Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police spokesman Joe Couto says that officers will not be stopping people only to ask about the stay-at-home orders.
“Individuals cannot be compelled to explain why they are out of their residence,” according to Couto said. “When people understand that our officers are not going to be looking for people who happen to be out like me walking my dog, I think they will then feel a lot better. Simply getting into their car and going to the grocery store wondering if they’re going to see the lights in their back windows is not going to happen.”
Solicitor General’s Office says Being Outside not Sufficient Evidence
“On its own, being outside is not sufficient evidence of a failure to comply with the stay-at-home order,” states Stephen Warner a a spokesman for the Solicitor General. “Workers are also not required to have proof from their employer that they are travelling to or from their workplace.”
There has been no statement yet from Thunder Bay Police. The City’s Municipal Emergency Control Group (MECG) in a media release yesterday said, “The enforcement of COVID-19 legislation is a joint initiative by the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, City By-law Officers, and the Thunder Bay Police Service.
“If residents have concerns about businesses and individuals who are not following Ontario’s COVID-19 related orders can phone (807) 625-5900 or toll-free 1 (888) 294-6630 to report any instances of non-compliance. This phone line will be monitored between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday, and between 9 am and 1 pm Saturday and Sunday. This includes residents gathering in large groups.”
Clarity from Toronto Police Service
“The message from the Toronto Police Service is to stay home and stay safe. This is no longer strictly a public health issue, it is a matter of public safety,” said Deputy Chief Myron Demkiw. “We each have a personal responsibility to limit our travel to essential reasons only to slow the spread of COVID-19 and try to keep our families and communities safe and support our hospitals and healthcare workers.”
No element of any order provides the police with either the power to enter dwellings nor the authority to stop a vehicle for the singular purpose of checking compliance with the Stay-At-Home order.
In addition, individuals are not compelled to explain why they are out of their residence, nor is being outside prima facie evidence of a failure to comply with the stay at home order. Workers are also not required to have proof from their employer that they are travelling to or from their workplace.
Officers will focus enforcement efforts on restaurants and businesses not in compliance with closure orders and/or customer limits; responding to complaint calls for gatherings and officers will disperse and ticket gatherings of more than five people outdoors.
“Officers can exercise discretion in every situation,” continued Deputy Chief Demkiw. “But, where there is evidence of non-compliance, officers will be ticketing and issuing summonses for individuals and businesses.”
Not in Compliance?
Fines can be issued for non-compliance.
The Ontario Provincial Offences Act has been updated to include new offences with set fines:
- Fail to comply with an order made during a declared emergency: $750.
- Obstruction of Person exercising a power in accordance with an emergency order: $1,000.
- Obstruction of Person performing a duty in accordance with an emergency order: $1,000.
- Individual who is a director or officer of a corporation: Up to $500,000.
- Corporations: Up to $10,000,000.
The Stay at Home Order has confused many people. An Emergency Alert was sent out on Thursday morning to all smart phones.
The rules were only issued on Thursday.
What are the Rules of the Stay at Home Order?
Ontario has provided clarification of the Stay at Home Regulation put in effect at midnight. The Stage 1 order under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020.” An Order in Council was signed by Premier Ford on January 13, 2021.
Under the Ontario order, residents in Ontario may only leave their homes for the following reasons:
• If it is necessary for work, school or child care. Work includes volunteering where the nature of the work or the volunteer efforts require the individual to leave their residence, including when the individual’s employer has determined that the nature of the work requires attendance at the workplace.
• Obtaining goods and services, including food, beverages and personal care items that are required for health or safety, including health-care services and medications.
• Obtaining goods, services, or performing activities as are required for the safe operation, maintenance and sanitation of households, businesses, means of transportation, or other places.
• Purchasing or picking up goods through an alternative method of sale, such as curbside pickup, from a business or place that is permitted to provide curbside pickup.
• Attending an appointment at a business or place that is permitted to be open by appointment under the legislation.
• Obtaining services from a financial institution or cheque-cashing service.
• Obtaining government services, social services and supports, mental health support services or addictions support
• Assisting others by delivering goods or providing care or other support or assistance to someone who requires support or assistance, or receiving such support or assistance, including providing care for an individual in a congregate care setting and accompanying an individual who requires assistance to leave their residence for any purpose permitted under the order.
• Taking a child to the child’s parent or guardian or to the parent or guardian’s residence.
• Taking a member of the individual’s household to any place the member of the household is permitted to go under this order.
• Doing anything that is necessary to respond to or to avoid an imminent risk to the health or safety of an individual, including protecting oneself or others from domestic violence, leaving or assisting someone in leaving unsafe living conditions, and seeking emergency assistance.
• Exercising, including, walking or moving around outdoors using an assistive mobility device or using an outdoor recreational amenity that is permitted to be open under the Stage 1 Order.
• Attending a place as required by law or in relation to the administration of justice.
• Exercising an Aboriginal or treaty right as recognized and affirmed by Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
• Those who have multiple residences may travel to another residence if they intend to be at the residence for less than 24 hours and are going to the residence for one of the purposes set out in this order. Also, if the individual intends to reside at the residence for at least 14 days.
• Travelling is permitted between the homes of parents, guardians or caregivers if the individual is under their care. It is also permitted while making arrangements to buy or sell a residence or to begin or end a residential lease and also while moving from one residence to another.
• Travelling to an airport, bus station or train station is permitted for the purpose of travelling to a destination that is outside Ontario.
• Gatherings are allowed for the purpose of a wedding, a funeral or a religious service, rite or ceremony permitted under the Stage 1 Order or making necessary arrangements for the purpose of such a gathering.
• If an individual lives alone, gathering with the members of a single household is permitted.
• Obtaining goods or services that are necessary for the health or safety of an animal are permitted, including obtaining veterinary services, obtaining animal food or supplies or doing anything that is necessary to respond to or avoid risk to the health or safety of an animal, including protecting an animal from abuse. Walking or exercising an animal is also permitted.
• No person shall attend a business or place that is required to be closed under the Stage 1 Order except to the extent that temporary access to the closed business or place is permitted under subsection 1 (6) of Schedule 1 to the Stage 1 Order.
• The order does not apply to homeless people.
• If the order allows a person to leave their residence to go to a place, it also authorizes them to return to their residence from that place.
• The requirement to remain at an individual’s place of residence does not prevent the individual from accessing outdoor parts of the residence, such as a backyard, and indoor or outdoor common areas of the communal residences that are open, including lobbies.
• Nothing in the order permits a business or place to be open if it is required to be closed under the Stage 1 Order.
• Nothing in the order permits an individual to gather with other individuals if the gathering is not permitted under the Stage 1 Order.
• People may only attend an outdoor organized public event or social gathering that is permitted under the Stage 1 Order for a work, school or childcare purpose.