British Columbia

Tiny fraction of people handed COVID-19-related fines in B.C. have paid up

More than 1,150 violation tickets have been handed out for alleged COVID-19 rule-breakers, totalling more than $750,000. But according to ICBC, just 6.1 per cent of provincial and federal fines in B.C. have been paid.

More than 1,150 violation tickets have been handed out for alleged COVID-19 rule-breakers

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer, has issued various public health orders that have resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for rule-breakers, but according to ICBC, just a fraction of those fines have been paid. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

More than 1,150 violation tickets have been handed out in B.C. in the past six months, levying provincial and federal fines for alleged COVID-19 rule-breakers totalling more than $750,000. But according to ICBC, just 6.1 per cent of that amount has been paid.

According to the insurer, which is tasked with collecting fines, between Aug. 21 and Feb. 12, 1,058 provincial violation tickets were issued, including:

  • 170 $2,300 tickets totalling $391,000 to owners and organizers allegedly in contravention of the provincial health officer's order prohibiting gatherings and events.
  • 31 $2,300 violation tickets totalling $71,300 with regard to the food and liquor public health order.
  • 857 $230 tickets totalling $197,110  issued to people who allegedly refused to comply with direction from law enforcement.

ICBC also reported more than $100,000 in fines to 94 people for allegedly violating the Federal Quarantine Act.

In total, during a nearly six-month span, $659,410 in provincial fines have been issued, and just $34,967 has been paid, or 5.3 per cent.

The federal fines have been paid at a higher rate — 11.5 per cent — totalling $11,800.

According to ICBC, an alleged offender has 30 days to dispute a ticket or pay the fine before being deemed guilty, so there's always a gap between the fines issued and those paid. 

Last week, Premier John Horgan was asked about the low rate of payment for COVID-19-related fines. He said serious offenders would face criminal charges — not just fines.

"Law enforcement has every intention of pressing charges, and that will lead, of course, to court action," said Horgan. "When people are deliberately disregarding the wellbeing of other British Columbians, we need to have more than just a slap on the wrist, more than just a fine."

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