The Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth announced today that he was enabling municipal bylaw officers to support enforcement of the Provincial Health Officers orders for business closures and gatherings in line with offences under the Public Health Act. The key parts of the order are summarized as follows:
Bylaw enforcement officers specifically designated under the order and regulations include local government corporate officers, BEO’s under section 36 of the Police Act, licensing inspectors, building inspectors, animal control officers or other persons acting in another capacity on behalf of a municipality, regional district or local trust committee for the purpose of enforcement of one or more of its bylaws;
To the greatest extent possible without unduly compromising any other bylaw enforcement objectives of the local authority, each local authority must ensure that the local authorities bylaw enforcement officers provide assistance as may be required to enforce public health orders to include:
- Monitoring facilities and areas closed to the public;
- Provide warnings, information and advice to businesses and members of the public with respect to the health orders;
- Provide health officers with information in respect of potential contraventions; and
- BEOs are not authorized to detain individuals or issue a fine or penalty.
This announcement acknowledges the expertise and critical role bylaw officers have to play in our communities during this public health emergency. The goal should be to utilize all professional law enforcers to bend the curve on identified cases and deaths with the coronavirus so that communities can get back to normal sooner.
The Minister’s directive requires cooperation and coordination with local governments and our health authorities. GovLaw recommends the following action be taken:
- Senior staff should enquire and coordinate with their Health Authority counterparts on the enforcement of the Provincial Health Officers directive and the Public Health Act;
- Primary enforcement should focus on public gatherings and business closures as directed by the Minister; and
- Evidence can be gathered for health officers and charges prepared to proceed as a “long form information (LFI)” prosecution in Provincial Court. A filed and served LFI can quickly send a message of responsibility and action required by individuals to reduce the coronavirus risk.
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