The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has articulated how they are enforcing the provincial government's stay-at-home order a day after the new rules went into effect.
In a news release, the OPP asked residents to “voluntarily comply” with the enhanced public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 in the province while explaining how officers will carry out the orders.
Primarily, the OPP says officers will focus on non-compliance in businesses and restaurants, complaints from the public and outdoor gatherings of more than five people.
Operating under the province’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA) and the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA), the OPP says officers can disperse and ticket individuals found to be in contravention with the acts.
“Fines are $750 for failing to comply with an order and/or $1,000 for preventing others (including individuals, employees or other workers) from following an order,” the news release reads.
“Maximum fines for individuals are up $100,000 and $10 million for a corporation. Failure to follow the rules can result in prosecution or jail time.”
Those fines aren’t new, but the powers of those who distribute them are.
Earlier this week, when the order was first announced, Premier Doug Ford said that all enforcement and provincial offences officers, including the OPP, local police forces, bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors, would now have the authority to issue to tickets as they see fit.
Confusion followed the release of those measures, with many wondering if the order meant police could now randomly stop residents who they felt were breaking the rules.
However, a spokesperson for Solicitor General Sylvia Jones later confirmed to CTV News Toronto that the order does not give police the power to enter homes or stop vehicles solely to check if the measure is being followed.
Following the province’s lead, police in Toronto and Peel Region said yesterday that their goal would be to enforce the order based on complaints while advising residents to remain at home.
READ MORE: Ontario addresses confusion about new stay-at-home rules. These are the answers to your top questions
The OPP doubled down on that messaging, underscoring that “officers will not arbitrarily stop an individual or a vehicle or enter a dwelling for the singular purpose of checking compliance with the order.”
“Individuals are not expected to provide proof of essential work. Officers can ask an individual to identify themselves if they have reasonable grounds to believe the individual is violating an act,” the OPP said.
At the same time, the OPP asked residents with questions related to the stay-at-home order to visit covid-19.ontario.ca/zones-and-restrictions instead of calling 911.
The request comes a day after Peel Regional Police said they were "being overwhelmed with 911 calls asking about the stay-at-home orders" and reminded people the emergency line shouldn’t be used for COVID-19-related questions.