OTTAWA — Health Minister Patty Hajdu fired back at Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Thursday, reminding him that provincial police can enforce quarantine rules too.
Her comments come afterthe premier lambasted the quarantine systemas “broken” in a Wednesday press conference, saying federal health officers aren’t laying charges against Quarantine Act rule breakers.
“I’ll just remind Premier Ford that in fact, the OPP, who are participating in enforcing the quarantine with the RCMP, have full authority to lay charges,” Hajdu told CTV Power Play Host Evan Solomon during Thursday’s episode.
“So I would encourage him to speak with the Ontario Provincial Police and tell them that if they feel that charges are appropriate, that they should go ahead and use the Quarantine Act as they’ve been empowered to do so.”
Hajdu also pointed out that the vast majority of COVID-19 spread is happening within communities, as opposed to being brought into Canada by an outside source.
“I would encourage the premier and his team to continue their hard work to build up testing capacity and use the full testing capacity that the federal government is supporting with billions of dollars,” she said.
Should federal quarantine officers decide to enforce the Quarantine Act, rule breakers could face up to six months in jail and fines up to $750,000.
Meanwhile, police forces can issue tickets up to $1,000.
“The premier should advise the OPP that if he feels they are not fully using the act in the way that they have the authority to do so, that they of course are empowered to do that,” Hajdu said.
Ford said Wednesday that the Ontario police have uncovered over 600 cases wherein people flouted the rules — but none resulted in charges.
“The system is broken,” Ford said. “I need the help from the federal government to make an amendment or change it. Why have our police go around and checking to see if people are quarantining if they aren’t going to follow up with a charge?”
According to The Canadian Press, between March 25 and Sept. 3, police have been asked to check on the whereabouts of 87,338 people ordered to quarantine. Federal data also shows that the RCMP has issued 27 tickets to rule breakers, while the OPP has handed out 14.
“As of Sept. 1, 2020, the RCMP has issued 20 fines totalling just over $18,000 to individuals under the Quarantine Act,” said Cpl. Caroline Duval, a spokesperson for the RCMP, in a statement emailed to CTV News on Sept. 3.
In addition to that, as of Sept. 3, two people have been charged under the Quarantine Act.
With files from The Canadian Press