People are calling 911 to report COVID-19 violations in BC

Dec 17 2020, 12:26 pm

While BC has ramped up its enforcement against those found to be in contravention of the province’s COVID-19 rules and regulations, residents are being reminded that 911 is not the number they should be calling to report such infractions.

“E-Comm has seen an increase in calls related to COVID-19, particularly over the weekends as many callers are reporting house parties or concerns about their neighbours not following restrictions,” a spokesperson told Daily Hive.

And these sorts of calls don’t belong on 911, because “they tie up important resources from people who may be experiencing life or death emergencies.”

Making matters worse, “we are also seeing more callers taking out their frustrations on our staff – especially if they’re asked to provide more details about the situation at hand,” the spokesperson said.

Call takers need to help first responders determine if there are any COVID-related risks to them or to the caller before the first responders arrive on the scene, and “this means call takers may need to ask some additional questions.”

Rather than tying up emergency services to report such infractions, concerned callers should reach out to their local bylaw office or call their local police non-emergency number, if their bylaw office is unavailable.

In Vancouver, these reports can be made by calling  311 or using the VanConnect app. A list of police and fire non-emergency numbers in BC is available online, as well.

As part of its expanded enforcement, the province said BC’s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth has asked gaming investigators, conservation officers, community safety unit inspectors, and liquor and cannabis inspectors to actively support police and increase COVID-19 enforcement during their normal course of duties or when in public places.

And in an effort to better hold offenders accountable for paying their provincial COVID-19 violation ticket fines, Farnworth is directing ICBC, which collects ticket fines on behalf of the government, to send offenders deemed as guilty immediately to collections.