British Columbia

B.C. ramps up enforcement of COVID-19 public health orders

The stepped-up measures include more officers and workplace inspections as well as having ICBC forward public health order fines to collections once offenders are deemed guilty.

More officers and workplace inspections; ICBC to forward fines to collections once offenders deemed guilty

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth declares a provincial state of emergency on March 18, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Province of British Columbia/Flickr)

B.C. is ramping up enforcement of public health orders to ensure more people are following its mask mandate and social gathering restrictions.

On Wednesday, the province announced it is asking more provincial officers to actively enforce public health orders and issue violation tickets.

"This will put more boots on the ground," said Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth in a statement, "and better ensure we can penalize those who insist on putting their own selfishness above public health."

Gaming investigators, conservation officers, community safety unit inspectors, and liquor and cannabis inspectors are asked to actively support police and increase COVID-19 enforcement during the normal course of their duties or when in public places.

WorkSafeBC will also move to more in-person inspections as opposed to virtual checks, particularly in sectors where COVID-19 transmission is occurring.

Nearly 300 violation tickets were issued in B.C. between Aug. 21 and Dec. 14, 2020.

ICBC will send fines to collections as soon as offenders are deemed guilty. (David Horemans/CBC)

ICBC to send fees to collections

The public safety minister has also directed ICBC, which collects fines on behalf of the provincial government, to send tickets to collections as soon as offenders are deemed guilty.

Typically in B.C., it can take upwards of a year before fines are sent to collections. Now, ICBC will send unpaid files directly to collections as soon as the initial 30-day payment or dispute period ends or an offender is found guilty in court.

The province says this will better hold violators accountable when it comes to paying fines.