Between March and June, police forces in Canada laid 11,602 charges related to violations of coronavirus restrictions, according to Statistics Canada.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, police—along with by-law and public health officers—along with bylaw and public health officers have been responsible for enforcing legislation related to containing the pandemic,” Police-Reported Crime Incidents March To June 2020 explains.
“They have included municipal bylaws, provincial and territorial emergency Health Acts and the federal Quarantine Act.”
Of the 11,602 charges, 9,509 were reported by RCMP and 2,093 were reported by local police departments.
The report does not include statistics from Sûreté du Quebec, the provincial police of Quebec, meaning the true number of charges laid is likely higher.
While restrictions such as those spelled out in the Quarantine Act have been instrumental in halting the spread of coronavirus, many Canadians have found themselves facing hefty fines for relatively minor violations.
In April, an Ottawa teenager was fined $700 for playing basketball alone in a parking lot.
That same month, three men were fined for eating together outside in a Calgary park. The men claim that they were following social and physical distancing rules the entire time.
In May, a woman was handcuffed after she took her daughter to North Bay, Ont. park. She was fined $880.
According to Blacklock’s Reporter, Canadian Police Association President Tom Stamatakis says the force feels sympathy for the public.
In April, Stamatakis told the House of Commons health committee that there is a “general lack of consistency” around coronavirus restrictions. Stamatakis added that messaging from the different levels of government has also been inconsistent.
“The last thing we need in circumstances like this is more conflict between the public and police,” he said.
“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.”