The president of Canada’s largest police union is disappointed that the current public health orders are forcing officers to issue big fines to people for doing everyday activities.
Originally reported by Blacklock’s, Canadian Police Association President Tom Stamatakis told MPs that enforcing coronavirus-related health orders may be creating animosity between the public and police.
“The last thing we need in circumstances like this is more conflict between the public and police,” he said in the House of Commons health committee on Wednesday,
“I can certainly understand the frustration and even anger expressed by members of the public who have found themselves potentially facing significant fines for infractions that at times may seem unclear.”
Stamatakis said that enforcing orders has been made difficult because of inconsistent messaging between the various levels of government as to what can be done during the pandemic.
He added that overreactions by police officers to infractions are contributing to public confusion and anger.
“There have been some well-documented cases of potentially overzealous enforcement of quarantine orders,” he said.
Over the past few weeks Canadians have received significant fines for breaking public health orders. In many cases the infractions were accidental and the public health risk was minor.
This week an Ottawa teenager was fined $700 for playing basketball by himself in a parking lot.
In another instance, a family of four in Oakville were fined $880 for rollerblading in the parking lot of a community centre. The family claims that there was nothing posted anywhere that suggested they were not allowed to be in the parking lot.
Along with inconsistent messaging from the government, Stamatakis says that police are also dealing with conflicted opinions from the public on how they want police to enforce public health orders.
“We’re now in the middle of the public who are saying, ‘What are you doing about this and why aren’t you taking enforcement action?’, in between people with those views and other people who are saying, ‘Well, why are you trying to prevent me from going to this park or criticizing me for leaving my home?’”