Sioux Lookout OPP lay NWO’s first COVID-19 related charge
Tim Brody - Editor
Sioux Lookout OPP have charged a person under the Provincial Government’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) , the first charge under the act relating to COVID-19 emergency declarations to be laid by Ontario Provincial Police in northwestern Ontario.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Ontario made a Declaration of Emergency on March 17 under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, which was extended on April 14 to May 12, which included such measures as, “the closure of all non-essential workplaces, outdoor amenities such as parks and recreational areas, public places and bars and restaurants, as well as restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people, and prohibitions against price-gouging.”
Sioux Lookout OPP shared through a news release that on the evening of April 14, “OPP officers responded to a local hotel for a complaint of a group of non-registered guests causing a disturbance in a hotel room.”
OPP officers attended the hotel and educated the group about emergency orders made under the Emergency Measures and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), charging one person with 'Fail to comply with an order made during an emergency' as per EMCPA.
“Sioux Lookout OPP officers take pride in providing public safety to the community they serve, and support the efforts of federal, provincial and local health authorities during the current emergency situation. At this time, the frontline approach to enforcement is through public education with officers encouraging compliance with all of the short-term restrictions. Voluntary compliance is always preferred, and the OPP appreciates the public's ongoing support of these mandates.
“However, for the safety of our community, it needs to be understood that compliance with these orders is not optional. Recent updates to the Provincial Offences Act outline the financial consequences for individuals and businesses who choose to defy the EMCPA. For individuals, this includes set fines of $750 for failing to comply with an order made during a declared emergency, or $1,000 for obstructing any person performing a duty or exercising a power in accordance with an order made during a declared emergency,” a news release issued by Sioux Lookout OPP Community Mobilization and Safety Officer, Provincial Constable Andrea DeGagne, informed.
On April 3, Ontario Provincial Police shared through a news release, “While education, awareness and compliance are preferred options, officers will apply discretion to lay charges under the provincial Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA)
Enforcement actions can include offences relating to:
operation of non-essential businesses and
gatherings of more than five people, with some exceptions
“Additionally, police have the authority to arrest those in non-compliance of the federal Quarantine Act at the request of a screening or quarantine officer.
“The OPP will continue to provide public safety services to the communities we serve and support the efforts of federal, provincial and local health authorities during the current situation involving COVID-19. We appreciate the public's ongoing support of these measures. Stay home and avoid non-essential travel, practice good hygiene and follow the Ontario Ministry of Health's recommendations in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.”
Ontario Provincial Police also shared, “If you wish to file a report regarding non-compliance under the Quarantine Act, contact Public Health Agency of Canada. For emergencies, please call 9-1-1. For all other police matters, including non-compliance to the EMPCA, please call your local police or the OPP at 1-888-310-1122. For less serious incidents, report online by visiting opp.ca/reporting.”
Ontario Provincial Police are recommending people visit the Government of Ontario’s website, www.ontario.ca/page/government-ontario, or the Government of Canada’s website, www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html, for additional COVID-19 information and resources. People can stay up to date on OPP-related information and updates at www.opp.ca.