The province has issued guidelines to support compliance with provincial health officer’s orders which outline the role of municipal bylaw officers in regards to providing assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic:
“Bylaw enforcement officers do not have the ability to detain an individual as a result of a contravention or suspected contravention of a public health order, or issue a fine or penalty, including an administrative penalty, under the Public Health Act.
Local bylaw and other compliance officers can, however, provide enforcement assistance for the PHO’s [Public Health Officer’s] orders by:
- monitoring facilities and areas closed to the public by a public health order;
- providing warnings, information and advice to businesses and members of the public about public health orders, including warnings to businesses and members of the public who may be acting in contravention of a public health order; and
- providing information on potential contraventions of a public health order for followup by health authorities.
Compliance officers will provide public health agencies with recommendations and advice on whether further action is necessary. Any enforcement will be at the direction of the PHO or local medical health officer.”
One of the questions the City has received is why the City is not doing more to enforce physical distancing when complaints are received. As COVID-19 is a health matter overseen by the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia, the City takes its direction directly from those authorities. The document Compliance and Enforcement Guidance about Public Health Orders with respect to Physical Distancing states that “there are no public health Orders addressed to the general public requiring them to maintain physical distancing outside their own homes, with the exception of inside food premises. The public has been provided with strong recommendations and guidance in this regard.”
The City will continue to encourage all residents to practice social distancing, but has been given no authority to act on complaints received, other than those circumstances outlined in the supporting documents and information provided.
Links to supporting documents:
City of Nanaimo News Release: Clarifying the Role of Bylaw Enforcement During COVID-19
BC Government News Release: New guidelines support compliance with provincial health officer's orders
BC Centre for Disease Control | BC Ministry of Health guidance toward compliance and enforcement: Compliance and Enforcement Guidance about Public Health Orders with respect to Physical Distancing