$5.8M in fines for breaking pandemic rules

A man coughing. File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / lisafx

A new report called Policing the Pandemic said a small number of Canadians had been charged so far for breaking social distancing rules during the pandemic, but they face a steep financial cost.

The report said 4,575 people across Canada were charged, and some of them multiple times for things like not staying six feet away from others, opening a non-essential business during the shutdown, even coughing or spitting on others.

Quebec had the vast majority of the charges where the number of COVID-19 cases totalled 32,623 Tuesday morning. In that province, 3,048 charges have been laid worth $4.6 million. Montreal, alone, has ticketed or charged 1,848 people.

Ontario is a distant second for the number of charges laid with 930 charges worth $700,440. At the city level, Toronto had the second most charges, too, with 594.

The majority of the violations to date have been for failing to physically distance from others or holding social gatherings over the allowed number.

The report also expressed concern several homeless people in Toronto have been fined $880 for sitting on public benches. In Ottawa, two Syrian refugees were fined $880 for walking through a park.

A total of 105 businesses across Canada have been fined for opening when they are not considered essential. The list includes hair salons, pawnshops, nail salons, bars, and a hookah lounge.

Less common violations included mischief and attending a closed park. Ten people have been fined for breaking their 14-day quarantine, and 20 others were charged for coughing or spitting on someone.