Toll-free Sask. COVID-19 hotline also acting as way to report non-compliance with guidelines

A toll-free line designed to answer Saskatchewanians' non-health questions about COVID-19 also acts as a way to report alleged violations of mandatory public health orders.

RCMP responded to 436 COVID-19 related calls from March 20 to 30

Municipal police forces are encouraging residents to contact a toll free line to report non-compliance with public health orders. (Andrew Berezovsky/Shutterstock)

A toll-free line designed to answer Saskatchewanians' non-health questions about COVID-19 also acts as a way to report alleged violations of mandatory public health orders.

The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency said in a news release Thursday that toll-free line operators, available at 1-855-559-5502, work with both police and public health officials to follow up on concerns. The line is operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Non-compliance concerns can also be submitted online.

On March 20, Premier Scott Moe said he had given police the powers up to and including arrest to enforce the chief medical health officer's orders for the public to maintain physical distance.

Nine days later, RCMP arrested 11 people for, among other things, violating the public health order issued by the chief medical health officer prohibiting gatherings over 10 people. 

On Thursday, RCMP said that between March 20 and March 30, officers responded to 436 calls for service related to COVID-19. 

Gatherings of more than 10 people yielded 57 complaints, resulting in seven warnings and one charge laid. There were 110 reports of people failing to self-isolate when allegedly required to do so, resulting in 27 warnings. 

There were also 13 complaints of businesses not complying with the public health order, resulting in three warnings. 

"The vast majority of these calls for service were resolved by educating members of the public of the potential health and enforcement consequences that can result from non-compliance with the Public Health Order," the RCMP release said.

Municipal police direct public to line

A statement from the Regina Police Service said some matters brought to their attention through the tip line will be enforced by police, while other matters will provide an opportunity for education of the public.

"Since the line is just being promoted as the go-to for concerns about people not complying with public health orders, there have been no tickets issued by police yet," the statement said. 

"There may be some investigations underway."

Both the Saskatoon Police Service and the Moose Jaw Police Service said the directive was a provincial one. 

A spokesperson for the Prince Albert Police Service said the force had seen an increase in COVID-19 related calls, many of them related to health and other concerns, but no arrests or tickets were issued directly related to the public health orders. 

"We are urging voluntary compliance [with the public health orders] and hoping people will follow this public health order so police members don't have to come out and enforce it," Charlene Tebbutt said.