Ontario lockdown fines as well as penalties for breaking city bylaws in Toronto have long been steep, and thats certainly not about to change now that a province-wide shutdown is set to come into effect on Dec. 26.
The provincial shutdown features a host of rules and restrictions including the closure of most non-essential businesses and the banning of all indoor gatherings with people from different households, and anyone caught breaking one of the rules will have to face the strict consequences outlined in the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA).
According to the act, any individual caught defying the shutdown rules by hosting an illegal gathering, for example, could face a fine between $10,000 and $100,000, plus a potential term of imprisonment of not more than one year.
An individual caught attending a gathering could meanwhile receive a fine ranging from $750 to $100,000, including up to one year in jail.
A director or officer of a corporation, on the other hand, could face a fine of not more than $500,000 and a term of imprisonment of not more than one year, and a corporation could be fined up to $10,000,000.
Fines for breaking city bylaws also meanwhile remain in place, such as the rule requiring physical distancing in parks and public squares, which could result in a ticket between $1,000 and $5,000.
The citys collaborative enforcement team is in charge of issuing such penalties, and its made up of officers from Municipal Licensing & Standards; Parks, Forestry & Recreation; Toronto Public Health and Toronto Police Service.
Enforcement officers are on patrol across the city at all times and respond to complaints made through 311, reads the citys webpage on COVID-19 enforcement.
Enforcing laws, regardless of the context, is a complicated and complex process. Enforcement requires investigation, the gathering of facts, and the application of often-complicated legal processes.
During the citys press briefing Monday afternoon, General Manager of the Office of Emergency Management and Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said officers have taken formal enforcement action 1,744 times since the start of the pandemic.
In the majority of these cases, enforcement teams received a complaint about an individual or business breaking provincial orders or city bylaws, they investigated, discovered proof that rules were in fact being broken, and issued a ticket and/or charge as a result.
Between Dec. 10 and 16, for example, 329 complaints were made about business operations in defiance of the ROA, and officers issued eight notices, 11 charges and provided education nine times in response.
In that same time frame, the city received 155 complaints about large gatherings, according to city data, and crews issued one notice and 22 charges in response to these complaints.
Achieving compliance with public health-related orders and regulations has been a priority for the City of Toronto as it continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Enforcing bylaws is a necessarily complex process that requires investigation, gathering facts and applying legal processes, says the city.
On a case-by-case basis, the enforcement team works to achieve compliance through education and/or enforcement action. The City recognizes that the public have been asked to significantly adjust their behaviours as requirements and orders have changed throughout the COVID-19 response.
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