B.C. expanding enforcement measures in effort to crack down on COVID-19 rule breakers

·2 min read

VICTORIA — New enforcement measures are coming into effect as part of British Columbia's crackdown on those who refuse to follow COVID-19 restrictions.

Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and solicitor general, says in a statement that he has asked gaming investigators, conservation officers, community safety unit inspectors, as well as liquor and cannabis inspectors to support police and increase COVID-19 enforcement.

B.C. reported 640 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, for a total of 44,103 since the pandemic began.

Another 24 people have died, bringing the death toll to 692. The number of people who have died in B.C. because of COVID-19 has more than doubled in less than a month.

The province says 362 people are hospitalized, while 91 of those are in intensive care.

Farnworth says he has also directed the Insurance Corp. of B.C. to send unpaid fines to collections after the initial 30-day payment or dispute period ends.

The province is also asking WorkSafeBC to increase the number of inspections it performs at workplaces.

Farnworth says the move will ensure the province can penalize those who put their own "selfishness" above public health.

The announcement follows Premier John Horgan's criticism on Tuesday of people who ignore or try to find loopholes in the province's COVID-19 restrictions.

A joint statement from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix Wednesday says 409 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been given to front-line health workers.

"Starting next week, the province will receive weekly vaccine deliveries for clinics in every health region throughout the province. Specific timing will be provided once confirmed," the statement says.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 16, 2020.

The Canadian Press