Bylaw officers can’t detain an individual who may be defying a public health order, nor can they fine a person, but they can issue a warning.
The City of Vernon provided clarification March 30 detailing what bylaw officers can and can’t do in regards to a ministerial order under the Emergency Program Act and Bylaw Enforcement Officer Assistance.
It was announced March 26 that, under a section of the Emergency Program Act, bylaw officers are able to provide assistance “as may be required for the purposes of enforcing public health orders.”
According to the order, assistance provided by bylaw officers may include:
- 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 in respect of public health orders, including warnings to businesses and members of the public who may be acting in contravention of a public health order;
- Providing health officers with information in respect of potential contraventions of a public health order.
But, under the order, bylaw officers aren’t authorized 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.
“If bylaw officers observe a possible contravention of a public health order (such as a large gathering of people), they may provide members of the public with education and verbal warnings, but then must report the possible contravention to the Provincial Health Authority for any further action,” the city said in a release.