More than 1,000 COVID-19 violation tickets have been issued by police in British Columbia between August 21, 2020, and February 12, 2021. But as of mid-February, less than 6% of those fines have been paid.
Brent Shearer, an ICBC spokesperson tells Daily Hive that a total of 1,058 provincial violation tickets were given out during that time frame.
That includes 170 $2,300 tickets issued to owners and organizers who hosted gatherings or events, 31 $2,300 tickets for breaking the Food and Liquor Serving Premises Order, and 857 $230 tickets issued to individuals who refused to comply with direction from law enforcement.
This amounts to a total of $659,410 in provincial COVID-19 fines. But Shearer says that only $34,956 has been paid. That’s less than 6% of the total amount.
Additionally, since the start of the pandemic, police in BC have given out 94 tickets to individuals who broke the Federal Quarantine Act, totalling $102,695. Of the federal amount, $11,800, just over 11% has been paid.
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Last December, the provincial government expanded its COVID-19 enforcement, allowing ICBC to send ticket fines to collectors immediately after the initial 30-day payment or dispute window, or when an offender was found guilty in court. Prior to this adjustment, guilty offenders would have up to a year before the overdue amount is sent to collections.
When asked about the large number of unpaid fines and many of the tickets being fought in court, Premier John Horgan said that he’s confident in the current process.
“Law enforcement has every intention of pressing charges that will lead, of course, to court action, and I think that’s appropriate,” he said during a press conference earlier this February. “When people are deliberately disregarding the well-being of other British Columbians, we need to have more than just a slap on the wrist, more than just a fine.”
“I’ll leave those to law enforcement and to the minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth to manage and address. But I’m confident that we’ve put in place a regime when it comes to public health and public safety that most British Columbians are following.”
Horgan added that he believes the “overwhelming majority” of BC residents are abiding by public health orders, noting that it’s about finding the right balance.
“We are trying to find that balance to make sure people can continue to exercise their good judgement,” he said. “But when that judgement becomes bad judgement we have tools at our disposal to take action and we’ll continue to do that.”