59 charges laid for COVID-19 offences in Hamilton, including 7 against businesses

Hamilton law enforcement officials have laid 59 pandemic-related charges for offences like gathering with more than five people, but the mayor denies that officers have been targeting the homeless.

Hamilton has 331 cases and 16 deaths, while other areas are creeping upward too

The COVID-19 curve seems to be flattening in Hamilton and Ontario, the city says, but it's not yet time to relax restrictions. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Hamilton law enforcement officials have laid 59 pandemic-related charges for offences such as gathering with more than five people, but the mayor denies that officers have been targeting the homeless.

Of the 59 charges, seven were against businesses, with four being open when they weren't essential, and three for allowing more than five people to gather, the city says. 

No tickets have been laid under the city's own bylaw that people stay two metres from each other. 

"Not a single ticket has been issued to anyone in the homeless community," Mayor Fred Eisenberger said during a media briefing Monday. "In fact, we haven't issued a ticket yet. So far, it's been [about] compliance."

Some advocacy groups issued a statement Monday saying otherwise.

The Hamilton Community Legal Clinic, the Hamilton Social Medicine Response Team (HamSmart) and Keeping Six, which represents people who use drugs, called for the city and police "to immediately stop ticketing individuals who are homeless and living in the same shelter under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act ("EMCPA"), and City of Hamilton By-Law 20-056."

People who are homeless couldn't pay the fines anyway, the groups say. The EMCPA, which restricts groups of five or more, carries a $750 fine. The bylaw carries a $500 maximum fine.

The legal clinic says people staying in the same shelter are part of the same household, and should be exempt from physical distancing requirements.

HamSmart says cohabitants socializing outside the shelter pose no greater risk than family members who live together.

Overall, Hamilton has 331 COVID-19 cases Monday, of which 324 are confirmed and seven are probable. That's up from 328 cases on Sunday. Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) has declared an outbreak at the St. Peter's Hospital 3 West palliative care unit, where one person has tested positive.

Nineteen people overall are in hospital from COVID-19 — 13 at Hamilton Health Sciences, six at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton — and 41 people have been hospitalized so far.

Nearly half the case total (143) have recovered, and 16 have died.

Deaths over the weekend included two people at Emmanuel House Hospice on Stinson Street, and one at Heritage Green Nursing Home in Stoney Creek.

So far, a 62-year-old woman is the city's youngest death from COVID-19, although 33 per cent of the people who get the virus are between age 20 and 44.

There are bright spots in the COVID-19 fight, including Premier Doug Ford saying Monday that physical distancing measures appear to be working.

"There's certainly lots of optimism, and I think it's great to have some bright news in our days," said Paul Johnson, director of the city's emergency operations centre. But people have to keep distancing themselves from each other and only leaving the house for essential reasons, he said. 

"The virus isn't disappearing. We've just done a nice job of flattening that curve."

Here's what's happening elsewhere:


The Brant County Health Unit, which includes Brantford, has no institutional outbreaks. It experienced them at long-term care homes in Paris and Brantford earlier this month, but both outbreaks have ended.

As such, Brant's numbers have stayed fairly low, with 75 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and three deaths. Forty-three cases have resolved and three were hospitalized. On Sunday, there were 74 confirmed cases. 

Like other local areas, more women than men have had COVID-19. Of the 75 cases, 45 are women and 30 are men.


The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit has 163 confirmed COVID-19 cases, about 100 of them connected to devastating outbreak at Anson Place Care Centre in Hagersville. That outbreak has accounted for 24 of the area's 26 deaths. 

Thirty-two people have recovered. A case summary released this weekend shows that 68 per cent of Haldimand's COVID-19 cases are in Hagersville, and 33 per cent of Norfolk's cases are in Simcoe.

(Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit)
(Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit)
(Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit)


The Halton Region has 439 cases as of Monday, with, 383 confirmed and 56 probable. That's up from three on Sunday.

Of those cases, 70 are in institutions and 62 are health-care workers. Fifty-seven were ever hospitalized, 188 have recovered and 16 have died. More than half of the deaths are from a Halton Hills retirement home called Mountainview Residence, where 63 residents have tested positive and nine have died. 

As for Burlington, the number infected at Joseph Brant Hospital remains at three, and at Park Avenue Manor, no residents have tested positive. 

In Burlington, there are 75 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 11 probable, for a total of 86.

This graph shows the number of new cases in Halton Region since the start of the pandemic. (Halton Region)
This graph shows a breakdown of COVID-19 cases. (Halton Region)
This image shows the location of Halton COVID-19 cases. (Halton Region)


Niagara Region statistics show 384 confirmed cases there, up from 366 Sunday. Of the 384, 140 have recovered and 33 have died, up from 26 on Sunday. Of the cases to date, 17.2 per cent have been hospitalized and 3.1. per cent have been in intensive care. 


Samantha Craggs is journalist based in Windsor, Ont. She is executive producer of CBC Windsor and previously worked as a reporter and producer in Hamilton, specializing in politics and city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca


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