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Province gives police power to fine people $2,000 for price gouging, reselling essential goods

Last Updated Apr 19, 2020 at 12:26 pm PST

FILE: Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth discussed essential services on Thursday, March 26, 2020. (Courtesy B.C. Government)

Minister Mike Farnworth said the province is enabling these tickets because of 'shameful practices' amid the pandemic

Farnworth said the province has been fielding complaints from frontline workers and vulnerable people seeking supplies

Complaints can be made through Consumer Protection BC

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The provincial government is giving police the power to issue $2,000 fines to people who price gouge or resell essential goods, including personal protective equipment.

During an update on B.C.’s enforcement measures, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the province will be enabling these tickets because of the “shameful practices” taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are always those who seek to take advantage of people’s fears, and those who prey on the collective anxieties of our communities,” he said.

He said the province has been fielding complaints from frontline workers and vulnerable people seeking supplies to keep themselves and those around them safe and healthy.

“British Columbia has enough to deal with right now. We need to hold the line to follow the guidance of the public health officer. Right now, we need to worry about our collective health,” he said.

“The province is also calling upon enforcement staff from local government and provincial ministries to support enforcement by issuing these tickets for the duration of the current state of emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Municipal bylaw officers, liquor and cannabis inspectors, gaming inspectors, conservation officers, park rangers, Natural Resource Officers, community safety officers, commercial vehicle safety officials, and sheriffs will all be able to hand out fines.

“These measures are in concert with the federal government’s April 14 announcement, which allows local and provincial police forces to issue tickets to returning travellers who do not comply with the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days, under the federal Quarantine Act,” Farnworth said.

Moving forward, Consumer Protection BC will be the first point of contact for complaints around price gouging.

Consumer Protection BC began ticketing in early March and has received over 1,500 complaints.

“The organization will now formally intake and assess price gouging complaints in the province, work with businesses to voluntarily correct the behaviour and liaise with other law enforcement agencies when escalation is deemed necessary. The police and enforcement officers are responsible for issuing violation tickets,” said a release.

If you would like to submit a complaint, you can send your tip online by visiting the Consumer Protection BC’s site.

-With files from Sonia AslamĀ