The Bottom Line
As of April 19, 2020, the Province granted Bylaw Enforcement Officers the authority to issue violation tickets for certain offences related to price gouging and reselling during COVID-19. However, Consumer Protection BC will continue to be the main point of contact, to receive and investigate complaints and reach out to other enforcement authorities if they need assistance in issuing a Provincial violation ticket. Complaints of price gouging or reselling can be directed to Consumer Protection BC.
Authority to Issue Violation Tickets
“But wait a minute…” you say, “Wasn’t issuing fines is the one thing they told us we couldn’t do?” Allow me to explain.
This new and expanded authority for Bylaw Officers comes from an Order In Council which amended the Violation Ticket Administration and Fines Regulation. The newly amended regulation allows anyone who is a bylaw enforcement officer, as defined in the Bylaw Enforcement Officer (COVID-19) Order, MO 82/2020 to issue violation tickets for breaches of sections 8 (4) and (5), and section 9(2) of Ministerial Order 84/2020, and section 3 of Ministerial Order 115/2020.
This new power does not conflict with section 3(2)(b) of MO 82/2020 which prohibits Bylaw Enforcement Officers from issuing fines or administrative penalties under the Public Health Act, as the Ministerial Orders to be enforced by violation ticket were made under the Emergency Program Act.
For more information on Bylaw Enforcement powers under MO 82/2020, see Expanded COVID-19 Role for Bylaw Officers by Troy DeSouza.
The Province indicates that Consumer Protection BC is still the main contact point and the public are to submit complaints of price gouging or reselling to them for investigation. Consumer Protection BC has said that it will reach out to various enforcement authorities to assist them with complaints as needed. We encourage you to work cooperatively with Consumer Protection BC where possible to assist them in protecting your local residents.
If you receive information from the public regarding price gouging or reselling, you can direct them to Consumer Protection BC. Complaints can be submitted through Consumer Protection BC’s online form: https://www.consumerprotectionbc.ca/report-price-gouging/.
Lisa Guidi is an associate lawyer at GovLaw. Originally from the Okanagan, Lisa has established a strong bylaw enforcement practice. When visiting family, Lisa works out of our Kelowna office.