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Canadian News Sep 25, 2021 6:05 PM EST

Ontario residents could face fines up to $100,000 for violating COVID public health orders

The consequences for non-compliance in Ontario's pandemic response have gotten more severe as authorities ramp up enforcement to combat the province's Delta variant-driven case surge.

Ontario residents could face fines up to $100,000 for violating COVID public health orders
Adam Dobrer Vancouver

The consequences for non-compliance in Ontario's pandemic response have gotten more severe as authorities ramp up enforcement to combat the province's Delta variant-driven case surge.

On August 16th, a Vaughan parent was charged for sending their child to daycare with COVID-19 symptoms on August 3. According to a spokesperson for York Public Health Region, they allegedly sent their child to school after failing a daily screening tool quiz requiring an assessment of symptoms.

They were ultimately fined $770, along with a 'victim surcharge' fee of $880, after 15 children tested positive for COVID-19 connected to this decision.

The maximum penalty for individuals is $100,000 and up to a year of jail time, while that can be as high as $10 million for corporations.

The spokesperson clarified that the parent violated Section 22 of the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act. This act grants public health officials broad powers to "require a person to take or to refrain from taking any action in respect of a communicable disease." Section 23 of the same act places the legal onus on parents and legal guardians for children under 16.

There have been 129 related inspections undertaken by public health officials and 18 charges have been laid for non-compliance.

The Ontario Government has adjusted its guidelines in recent months, removing "runny nose," "sore throat," "extreme tiredness," and "headaches" from the standard list of COVID-19 symptoms, which would trigger isolation and testing requirements. The adjusted guidelines also allowed for fully vaccinated siblings of children exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms to continue attending school in person.

Under Bill 218, Supporting Ontario's Recovery and Municipal Elections Act, 2020, Ontario law protects individuals, businesses and corporations from liability for spreading COVID-19 unless "it can be demonstrated that the individual did not act in good faith compliance with public health guidelines, or were acting recklessly."

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