'You will pay': Manitoba doubling COVID-19 fines for repeat offenders
WINNIPEG -- Manitoba is doubling fines for repeat offenders who disobey emergency public health orders.
Premier Brian Pallister made the announcement Friday morning. Pallister also said the province will be doubling default payment fees for those who fail to pay their fines on time.
Pallister noted the vast majority of Manitobans are following the rules.
“There is a small, selfish minority of people that aren’t doing their part, and in doing so, they’re putting the health of themselves and others at risk,” said Pallister.
“I will say to those folks: you will pay your fine, and if you do not, you will not be driving your car. We will not issue you a driver’s licence. You can put your car up on blocks, and you can leave it there until you pay your fine. If you don’t drive, we will garnish your wages. You will pay.”
Current fines range from $298 for not wearing a mask in a public place to $1,296 for individuals failing to comply with emergency orders and $5,000 for corporations disobeying the rules.
Pallister said there are more than 3,300 enforcement officers across the province, and said Manitoba is the only province to release enforcement reports each week.
Since the pandemic began, more than 4,000 warnings have been issued and more than 1,300 tickets have been handed out -- with more coming, said Pallister.
“Just this past week alone, COVID enforcement officers inspected over 4,000 different locations around the province to ensure compliance with COVID prevention orders.”
Pallister also said enforcement officers in conjunction with law enforcement have attended approximately 50 different protests in Winnipeg and other communities across the province.
“Each protest response requires significant planning and requires collaboration among law enforcement officials to ensure that the public and all officers and personnel are kept safe while they’re doing their job.”
Pallister said video evidence is used to identify those in attendance and fines are issued following an investigation. He said, as a result, a significant number of fines have been issued and will continue to be issued.
“I want to be clear with Manitobans and with those who are considering disrespecting their neighbours and friends by breaking public health orders, that we are outpacing most other provinces in enforcement efforts and we’re going to.”
He said Manitoba’s per capita enforcement is approximately 100 tickets per 100,000 population.
“We must do more to enforce our public health orders. Our enforcement efforts are always continually realigned with the new public health orders whenever they’re introduced, and where problem areas are identified they’re also responding to that.”
The news of the increased fines for repeat offenders comes one day after Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman called on the province to double or triple fines for those disobeying orders.
“It’s tricky. I mean, we’re all frustrated. I heard it in the mayor’s comments yesterday, and deservedly so,” said Pallister. “We’re all frustrated with a scofflaw behaviour.”
Pallister said the province is doing everything it can on enforcement and collection.
“If you do it again, it’s going to be twice as costly to you.”