Chin-ups in the park net Toronto man $880 fine as provinces enforce stricter measures
TORONTO -- A Toronto man received an $880 fine for using a chin-up bar at a local park as provinces crack down on people disobeying physical distancing measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.
On Tuesday, Dylan Finlay went for an afternoon run and stopped at Toronto’s Centennial Park to use the chin-up bar.
Minutes later, a Toronto bylaw enforcement officer stopped his vehicle and approached Finlay.
“He says he was going to ticket me for that and I said ‘For what?’ And he said ‘Well, it’s been closed. You should know that,’” Finlay told CTVNews.ca on Wednesday.
When Finlay protested that there was no sign indicating the chin-up bar was off limits, he said the officer told him, “Well, it is.”
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There were signs and caution tape on the playground and swing set in the park, Finlay says, but not on the chin-up bar itself.
Finlay told CTVNews.ca he faces an $880 fine for allegedly failing to comply with an order made during a declared emergency under Ontario’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
The act, which came into effect in March, allows bylaw officers to issue fines for offences, such as gathering in groups of five or more in public or private residences, congregating in parks and using park facilities or equipment, and operating a restaurant with dine-in services.
Finlay, a criminal defence lawyer, said he plans to challenge what he feels is an unfair punishment.
“This is a real risk of undermining, you know, the social goodwill everybody has for social distancing,” he said.
While Finlay is in disbelief, he’s not the only one who has been hit with a steep fine.
STRICTER MEASURES ACROSS CANADA
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it will be “weeks” before they will be able to seriously consider loosening some of the restrictions currently in place across the country.
“It would be terrible if we were to release restrictions too early and find out we’re suddenly back in another big wave of COVID-19 and have everything we’ve gone through up to now would have been for nothing because we’ll find ourselves once again in the same situation,” the prime minister told reporters gathered in front of his home in Ottawa.
Health Canada warned that in the absence of a treatment or vaccine, the fight against the virus may take months and require waves of controls. The health agency said the current parameters that Canadians are living under, such as physical distancing and travellers in quarantine, are considered strong controls to curb the spread of the disease.
Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said the outcome of these measures, however, will be ultimately decided by Canadians and their actions.
“In the last weeks a lot has been done, and we will need to monitor, every single day, the evolution of the outbreak and the trajectory so we can recalibrate as needed,” she told a press conference in Ottawa last week.
In Ontario, officers have been issuing fines under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, which has been extended until mid-May.
Under section 7.0.11 of the act, fines for violating a provincial order can range from $750 to $100,000 and can include imprisonment of up to one year.
In Quebec, the province with the highest number of cases of COVID-19, provincial police have handed out more than 650 tickets to individuals not complying with physical distancing orders. Residents there face fines as low as $1,000 plus $546 in fees for violating public health orders. The maximum fine is up to $6,000 plus additional fees.
In B.C., anyone who ignores public health orders, such as the ban on gathering in groups, could be fined up to $25,000 with possible jail time. Municipal bylaw officers have been tasked with enforcing the provincial orders under the provincial state of emergency, which was declared in March.
FINES IN OTHER PROVINCES
- Nova Scotia: Residents who don’t practise social distancing and self-isolation could face fines of $1,000 for individuals $7,500 for businesses. Multiple fines can be given each day an individual or business refuses to comply.
- New Brunswick: Anyone who fails to self-isolate and comply with provincial physical distancing orders can face a fine ranging from $292 to $10,200.
- Prince Edward Island: Islanders who don’t obey orders under the province’s Public Health Act could be subject to fines of $1,000 for a first offence, $2,000 for a second offence, and $10,000 for a third offence and every offence after that.
- Newfoundland and Labrador: Individuals who don’t comply with the province’s health and safety orders could face a fine of between $500 and $2,500 and/or a prison sentence of less than six months. Business owners could face fines of between $5,000 and $50,000.
- Manitoba: Those who break provincial bans on public gatherings or operating non-essential businesses can be fined $486 for individuals and $2,542 for businesses.
- Saskatchewan: Travellers returning to Saskatchewan from international destinations must self-isolate for 14 days or face a $2,000 fine.
- Alberta: Albertans who don’t obey directives to self-isolate could be fined up to $1,000 for each violation. For businesses that ignore public health orders, provincial courts will be able administer fines of up to $100,000 for a first offence and up to $500,000 for subsequent offences.
- Yukon: Residents who ignore public health orders can face fines up to $500 and jail terms up to six months.
- Northwest Territories: The territorial government has banned all travel to the territory, with limited exceptions, and has ordered all returning residents to self-isolate for 14 days. Anyone who disobeys the order is subject to fines of up to $10,000 and up to six months in jail.
- Nunavut: Individuals who have been identified as persons under investigation for COVID-19 have been ordered to self-isolate for 14 days. Those who don’t comply with the order could be fined up to $50,000 or be imprisoned for up to six months.
With files from The Canadian Press