Amendment means steeper fines can be handed out for violations of Sask.'s emergency planning laws

·2 min read
While nearly all of the COVID-19 public health order violation tickets handed out in Saskatchewan were done so through the Public Health Act, the province introduced higher maximum fines to those found to be in violation of provincial emergency planning laws that could also apply to those violating public health orders. (Leisha Grebinski/CBC - image credit)
While nearly all of the COVID-19 public health order violation tickets handed out in Saskatchewan were done so through the Public Health Act, the province introduced higher maximum fines to those found to be in violation of provincial emergency planning laws that could also apply to those violating public health orders. (Leisha Grebinski/CBC - image credit)

Amendments to a bill that could lead to stiffer fines for those violating public health orders in Saskatchewan attained royal assent on Thursday.

During the winter session of the legislature, it was proposed fines issued through the emergencies act increase to a maximum of $7,500 for individuals and to $100,000 for corporations found to be in violation of Saskatchewan's emergency planning laws.

The emergency planning amendment act got its final reading in the house on Thursday and became real.

People caught violating public health orders in Saskatchewan, like those in place to deal with COVID-19, can be fined under the emergency planning laws.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General Gordon Wyant said those enforcing the public health orders can also issue fines under the newly-strengthened Emergencies Act as well as the Public Health Act.

The amendments, when proposed, weren't just brought about due to COVID-19, Wyant said, noting the legislation also works for the province for future events.

He said a majority of the tickets handed out for violating public health orders in Saskatchewan were issued under the Public Health Act, which was the most "direct" way to fine people, he said.

"Really, in terms of where the [public health order] fines, we fully expect they'll continue to be levied under the Public Health Act," Wyant said on Friday.

While the amendments attained royal assent on Thursday increased the maximum fines, it wasn't quite what Saskatchewan's NDP was hoping for from the government in terms of public health order enforcement.

On Monday the Official Opposition called on the province to increase minimum fines for those caught violating public health orders in Saskatchewan as a deterrent to what Deputy Leader Nichole Sarauer called "pro-COVID" rallies that occurred in Saskatchewan.

Wyant responded to the question last Monday and said if those who were fined were going to take to social media and boast that they were fined for violating the rules, increasing the minimum fine wouldn't be an effective deterrent.

He pointed out that as it stands, the public health act allows for fines of up to $75,000.

"We'll continue to encourage law enforcement to fully enforce those laws and fully enforce the penalties that are in effect," he said on Monday.

"There's no indication that increasing the penalties ... putting a mandatory minimum is going to at all influence anyone from not complying."

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