Emergency Management and Civil Procedure Act
As we continue the fight against the COVID-19 virus, the world around us is changing daily. Things that were once taken for granted are now looked at as luxuries. One way or another, this virus has affected your daily life. We are in unprecedented times in which the community and its citizens must work together to combat the spread of this deadly virus.
As government officials have advised for weeks now, we must stay at home and exercise social distancing in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. Non-essential businesses have been temporarily closed in Ontario and employees laid off. We find ourselves out of our regular 9-5 schedule and with newfound time on our hands. This at the same time as our season is changing and inviting us out into the beautiful weather. It seems like the perfect time to visit the cottage, start a project, or maybe go camping with some friends. “Our government has asked us to stay home, but it’s not like it’s a rule or anything, right?”
Before you think about making those plans, you need to know about a very important piece of legislation called the Emergency Management and Civil Procedure Act. Under this Act, you could be charged and receive a minimum fine of $750. Over the past weeks, law enforcement have been enforcing this Act and it’s very important to know what it means for you. One would never assume you could be charged for simply taking a visit to the park with friends, but in these unprecedented times, this could be a reality.
What is the Emergency Management and Civil Procedure Act?
The Emergency Management and Civil Procedure Act is Provincial legislation passed by the legislature of Ontario. The Act grants the Premier of Ontario and the Executive Council of Ontario the authority to declare a state of emergency.
Was the Emergency Management and Civil Procedure Act created for COVID-19?
No. The Emergency Management and Civil Procedure Act was passed by the Ontario legislature in 2008. The Act replaced the Emergency Management Act of 2002. One of the primary changes to the Act was the addition of emergencies related to disease or other health risks. This addition came as a result of the poor response both the Government of Canada, and the Government of Ontario exhibited during the 2002-2004 SARS outbreak in Canada. The response was described as “very, very basic and minimal at best”.
What is the legal definition of “emergency”?
Under the Emergency Management and Civil Procedure Act an “emergency” is defined as a situation or an impending sitaution that constiutes a dnager of major proportions that could result in serious harm to persons or substantial danger to property and that is caused by forces of nature, a disease or other health risk, an accident or an act whether intentional or otherwise.
The COVID-19 virus falls under “a disease or other health risk” and is by definition, an “emergency”
What are the powers of the government under the Emergency Management and Civil Procedures Act?
The Act gives the Government of Ontario special powers to make “emergency orders” that promote the public good by protecting the health, safety and welfare of the people of Ontario while also balancing the rights of Ontarians under the Canadian Charter of RIghts and Freedoms.
What orders are made under the Emergency Management and Civil Procedures Act?
The “orders” made under the Act could range in a wide variety of specifics dependent on the circumstance and nature of the emergency that the public is facing. Below are a few examples of the orders currently in place by the Government of Ontario.
How is the Emergency Management and Civil Procedure Act enforced?
The Act is enforced by all law enforcement agencies in Ontario. Municipal by-law enforcement officers will be typically tasked with enforcing and laying charges under this Act.
What is an offence under the Emergency Management and Civil Procedure Act and what are the penalties?
Law enforcement will be looking for any person who fails to comply with any order made under the Act, for example, restricting travel to a certain area. It is also an offence to interfere with or obstruct any person in the exercise of a power or the performance of a duty enabled by this legislation.
What are the penalties under the Emergency Management and Civil Procedure Act?
If found guilty of an offence under this Act, the accused will face the following penalties upon conviction.
Individual: a fine of not more than $100,000 and for a term of imprisonment of not more than one year;
Individual who is Director or Officer of Corporation: a fine of not more than $500,000 and for a term of imprisonment of not more than one year
Corporation: a fine of not more than $10,000,000.
It is important to note that a charge under the Emergency Management and Civil Procedure Act will not result in a criminal record. It is a Provincial charge under Provincial legislation.
Can you fight a charge under the Emergency Management and Civil Procedure Act?
Absolutely, you can fight your charge! With the serious fines present upon a conviction, it is imperative you seek out competent legal advice if you are charged under this Act.
If you have been charged, I strongly recommend consulting OTD Legal Services to discuss your options. Our office offers a no-obligation consultation with an experienced former Prosecutor who will be able to offer all the information you require to make an informed decision.
Send a photo of your ticket to firstname.lastname@example.org or send a photo by text (226) 240-2480 to receive a free, no-obligation consultation.
Please be advised the information contained herein is the opinion of the author and is in no way to be constituted as legal advice or the information interpreted to be an establishment of a paralegal-client relationship. To retain the services of our firm and receive a retainer to review, a consultation must be conducted first.