The province is enabling police to issue $2000 dollar fines to people engaged in price gouging, the re-selling of medical supplies, and for those who fail to self-quarantine after returning from travel.
B.C.’s minister of public safety Mike Farnworth made the announcement on Sunday morning, saying enforcement will come from municipalities, including bylaw officers, cannabis inspectors, and others.
Farnworth called the actions by some “shameful,” citing the story of an elderly, immuno-compromised woman who paid ten times what she normally would for an N95 mask.
“There will be those who want to prey on peoples’ fears and the most vulnerable in our society,” he said, adding the majority of people reselling supplies are individuals, not connected to organized crime.
“We will not allow these practices to continue. We need to work together to keep society running.”
800 reports of gouging
Farnworth said the province recognizes that as demand for supplies increases, the price does increase. But he said the standard to recognize price gouging will come down to common sense, and that some prices posted online have been “exorbitant.”
“You know it when you see it,” he said.
Farnworth said that people who want to report examples of these practices can contact local police, Consumer Protection B.C., or call 311, which has already received 800 reports.
Farnworth said that with most people complying with physical distancing, there is no plan to close down public spaces at beaches and in parks.
On April 15 B.C. Premier John Horgan extended the provincial state of emergency by two weeks.
States of emergency can only be issued for two weeks at a time in B.C.
The declaration gives the province extraordinary powers during a crisis, including the ability to restrict travel and set prices for essential goods like medical supplies and food.
If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at email@example.com.