Dec. 15 update: Premier John Horgan said today that “rule breakers” will be held accountable “and that means ensuring that the fines that we levy are collected.
“If you do not pay the fines, we will send collections after you. This is serious, this is not a lark, and this is not something we do lightly. Those who do not want to obey the rules as the rest of us are following will have to pay the consequences.”
BY PAMELA FAYERMAN
Law enforcement officers have issued nearly 400 violation tickets to people in the past five months for disobeying B.C.’s pandemic health orders and federal Quarantine Act rules.
But very few have been paid.
Data up to Dec. 14 shows there were 290 provincial violation tickets issued and another 72 to individuals in contravention federal Quarantine Act.
If everyone paid their provincial and federal fines for infractions such as not wearing masks, or not quarantining after international travel, it would equate to about $280,000.
But B.C. has collected only a trickle since August 21 when Public Safety and Solicitor General Minister Mike Farnworth first announced the get tougher approach for violating an ever-increasing number of public health orders.
As of the beginning of December, B.C. had collected a mere $7,440 for provincial Public Health Order violations and federal Quarantine Act violations.
Farnworth, who’s expressed his frustration by calling out anti-mask offenders – “Shut up, grow up and mask up” – said tickets and fines are meant to “ensure that police and other enforcement officials have the tools necessary to address the selfish actions of a small minority of people who take needless risks with our collective health.”
ICBC collects fines on behalf of the Province, including all provincial violation ticket fines and those imposed by Provincial Courts. It also collects fines for federal violation tickets.
The federal government has an agreement with the provincial government to collect fines for federal violation tickets, including those issued to individuals breaking federal quarantine rules. ICBC remits fine revenue to the feds; the revenue is shared 50-50, said Brent Shearer, a spokesman for ICBC.
ICBC has collected $7,440 for Public Health Order violations and Quarantine Act violations between August 21 and December 2.
Of the 30 provincial tickets on the file:
- 4 tickets were paid prior to the 30-day expiry
- 3 tickets for $230
- 1 ticket for $2,300
- 5 tickets are guilty by expiry but not yet paid
- 1 ticket has been canceled for an incorrect certificate of service (ticket not correctly filled out)
- 20 tickets are being disputed
Of the 30 federal tickets on file:
- 3 $1,150 violation tickets were paid before the 30-day expiry totaling $3,300 (one customer still owes $150)
- 1 $1,150 ticket was guilty by expiry and paid
- 5 $1,150 tickets are guilty by expiry and not yet paid for a value of $5,750
- 2 tickets have been canceled (1 for incorrect dispute address and another because the violation sited is under the provincial health orders)
- 19 tickets are being disputed
Individuals have up to 30 days to dispute a provincial violation ticket. If they refuse to pay and don’t dispute the ticket, then they are deemed to have pleaded guilty and the full amount will continue to be owing.
We can surmise that many people won’t want to pay their fines and in fact, the tickets may be more symbolic than anything else. But they are nevertheless an important measure during the pandemic.
And most of us would applaud all the police officers, liquor, gaming, and other agents who are out there risking their health – and their lives – following up on complaints. We can only imagine the ordeals they face when issuing tickets to selfish, rude, defiant individuals choosing to disobey public health orders.
Meanwhile, the Attorney General’s office says this about unpaid fines:
“In instances where people fail to pay a provincial fine, ICBC and the BC Government have a number of tools at their disposal to collect the monies from those who live within B.C and from those who live outside of the province.
- If a provincial COVID ticket is disputed, and the person pleads guilty or is found guilty through a court hearing, fines can be enforced through the income tax system or other collection methods.
- ICBC sends notification letters and if payment is not made, other options include:
- Garnishing wages or bank accounts
- Liens on real estate property
- Collection agencies
- Failure to pay an Emergency Program Act Order violation ticket (provincial), a Public Health Order violation ticket (provincial), or a Quarantine Act violation ticket (federal) does not currently impact a person’s ability to renew their vehicle insurance or driver’s licence.”
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