New guidelines support health officer’s orders
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has issued new guidelines to support compliance with orders on business closures and gatherings made under the Public Health Act.
The new guidelines for municipal bylaw officers and other compliance officers give clear instruction on warnings, public education and fines to make sure there is compliance with the PHO’s orders and, if necessary, they are enforced consistently throughout B.C. communities.
“Local governments are key partners in ensuring the provincial health officer’s orders are obeyed so people in our communities can stay healthy,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “It’s important that communities, and those responsible for compliance, have clear and consistent guidelines to enforce the provincial health officer’s orders so businesses can adapt their workplaces and help keep people safe.”
To strengthen compliance and enforcement measures, the province will redeploy provincial compliance staff from other ministries to support local governments under the direction of the PHO. This includes liquor and cannabis control and licensing inspectors, gambling enforcement and investigations officers and community safety personnel. As outlined in provincial orders issued last week, 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 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 follow-up 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.