Justice Minister Kaycee Madu said on Wednesday that fines for non-compliance with public health orders would double to $ 2,000 and introduced what he called a new enforcement protocol to target people violating orders. . It will allow Alberta health, occupational health and safety, local police and other agencies to have a coordinated response to deal with repeat offenders.
Madu said the province was introducing new measures to try to stop “a few who refuse to comply.”
“By sharing information and discussing enforcement action in this way, in addition to doubling fines, public health orders will be enforced more efficiently and consistently than before,” Madu said.
The comments come on the same day that the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror, Alta., Was closed after defying health orders for months and just days after a rodeo in Bowden, Alta., Hosted hundreds of people , most without masks and without physical distancing.
The province’s premier and justice minister said on Wednesday they would continue to leave enforcement of public health orders to the police and other agencies.
“As elected officials, we cannot direct operational decisions on individual cases by police or law enforcement agencies,” said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.
“We don’t do this in a democratic society. What we are doing is creating a policy and giving the tools to the implementing agencies. “
Calgary Police Chief Mark Neufeld said on Monday that the province had previously asked police not to fill the courts with tickets related to COVID-19 offenses. Neufeld welcomed the change in protocol announced on Wednesday.
“This will ensure stronger collaboration and more effective use of the existing powers available to each agency to focus on repeat offenders – individuals, groups and businesses,” he said in an emailed statement.
WATCH | Alberta promises better enforcement of public health rules:
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were more than 25 active work and shutdown orders in effect for businesses in the province that have not followed public health orders related to COVID-19, according to the AHS website .
On the list, the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror, which was “physically closed” by health inspectors on Wednesday morning.
For at least five months, the company operated in defiance of public health orders intended to curb the spread of COVID-19.
An anti-restriction protest was scheduled this weekend at the Whistle Stop Cafe.
Asked about the upcoming event, Madu said he was confident the new protocol in place will spark a “more proactive incident response.”
Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley said Wednesday the protocol announced by the province was not enough.
“The fact that there is a protocol for telling them to talk to each other is not new. It’s a policy dressed to look like action, but it’s not meaningful, ”she said.
“And that’s why we call on them to do more. ”
Some doctors in the province have said healthcare workers are frustrated by the massive protests against the lockout in Alberta.
“We are doing all we can to save all the lives we can… anyone and everyone, regardless of their beliefs, but that only adds to the burden,” said Dr. Gabriel Fabreau, internist at the Peter Lougheed Center in Calgary, and Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary, on The flow Wednesday.
“When everyone works as hard as them, it’s a bit of a slap in the face. “