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Only 12% of COVID-19 fines paid in B.C. while majority dispute ticket

Last Updated Feb 10, 2021 at 9:53 pm PST

A fine handed out to a Kelowna church for defying COVID-19 restrictions banning in-person worship. This was the second ticket issued to the church. (Courtesy Facebook/HarvestMinistriesCanada)
Summary

More than half the COVID safety fines handed out in B.C. are being disputed in court, only 12 per cent have been paid

ICBC has over $352,000 in fines on record by that date

A Vancouver city councillor says if they're not going to pay, publicly calling these offenders out is important

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Over $352,000 in COVID fines have been handed out in B.C., but only a small percentage have been paid.

As of Jan. 30, only 12 per cent of tickets on file with ICBC had been settled, but 51 per cent are being disputed in court. That’s out of 377 total fines issued under both provincial laws and the federal Quarantine Act.

Vancouver City Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung isn’t shocked by those numbers.

“I’d like to see the fines paid, but when you have individuals that break the rules, it doesn’t surprise me that they’re also not complying with paying the fine,” she says.

But she says it’s also important to call these people out for their actions.

“The fine is not the only punishment that goes along with … being caught in the act. It’s also sort of the public awareness of these individuals and the fact that it interrupts their illegal business activities, and I think really puts a spotlight on what it is that they’ve been doing.”

Kirby-Yung also believes repeat offenders should see higher financial penalties than are currently being handed out.

“Enforcement is important. If somebody is a repeat offender, then they should deserve to receive higher fines, in my view. If there’s a way to have those fines levied against them … then I would support that,” she says.

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By the end of January, ICBC had received about $42,000 in payment out of the more than $352,000 total fines handed out.

Kirby-Yung says while these numbers might not be encouraging, it’s important not to quit handing out the fines altogether.

“They’re hurting other businesses. They’re hurting themselves as well ultimately… but it’s a public health hazard and right now we have a population that is just trying to make their way through to the light at the end of the tunnel — looking for vaccination, and worried about variants. So if you can’t appeal to the better nature of the people, it’s pretty sad.”

A person who is ticketed currently has 30 days to pay off the fine or dispute it. After that, ICBC can send the fee to collections.

Twenty-four per cent of tickets were considered ‘guilty,’ meaning they passed the 30-day mark to be disputed, or the offender opted to dispute it but didn’t show up to their court date.

The remaining fines include cancelled tickets, tickets that led to a guilty judgement, and in-progress tickets (neither paid nor disputed at this time).