Ottawa's mandatory mask bylaw includes fines of $200-$400 for non-compliance
Face masks seem to be emerging as an important accessory to any outfit as Canadians start to settle into ‘the new normal.’
OTTAWA -- The City of Ottawa says the primary objective of the proposed new mandatory face mask bylaw for indoor public spaces is "educate and inform," but there will be fines for repeat offenders caught without a mask.
The proposed new bylaw gives Ottawa Bylaw officers the power to issue fines ranging from $200 to $400 to people caught not wearing face masks in indoor public places during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Council will vote Wednesday on a proposed mandatory face mask bylaw, that will remain in effect until at least August 26. Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches announced last Monday that face masks will be mandatory in all indoor public places starting Tuesday, July 7.
While the bylaw includes a fine for non-compliance of wearing a face mask in indoor places, Ottawa's general manager of emergency services says Ottawa Bylaw officers will focus on education and not enforcement.
"Our objective here, should Council approve the report, is to supplement what Dr. Etches has been telling us. This is an individual responsibility and we all have to as a community step up," said Anthony Di Monte.
"Yes, we're putting a bylaw in that's giving us new tools; our focus is definitely education and communication with people to try to attempt them to ensure that they wear a mask."
Di Monte said the Bylaw Services officers would "not" be patrolling for people not wearing masks to issue fines, adding the bylaw is a "tool within our toolkit" for people who "continuingly" refuse to wear a face mask.
In a report for Council, city staff said the proposed bylaw for mandatory face masks will focus on indoor locations where the public has access as they re-open. Visitors must wear a face mask at: restaurants and other eating and drinking establishments; retail locations; places of worship; sports facilities; museums, theatres and other entertainment venues; public areas in hotels and other short-term rental premises; and public areas in hospitals and other health facilities. The mandatory face mask bylaw will also apply to City of Ottawa buildings and facilities, including libraries.
On June 15, face masks became mandatory on all OC Transpo buses, the O-Train, in stations and on Para Transpo Vehicles. The new City of Ottawa face mask policy would cover violations on OC Transpo property.
Staff say, "As with any bylaw, or with any new public health measure, the primary objective is to educate and inform, and gain voluntary compliance."
"However a bylaw does provide a means to impose penalties through tickets should such action be deemed necessary, such as in the case where a warning is insufficient or with repeat offenders."
The proposed fine ranges between $200 and $400 for not wearing a face mask.
The report for Council says the "requested fines will be a reasonable amount, in keeping with the set fines of most other City bylaws, in the range of $200-400, based on the individuals or Corporations, subject to the approval of the Ontario Court of Justice."
"The bylaw will have a fine component to it, but frankly I hope we never have to use that," said Keith Egli, Chair of Ottawa's Board of Health.
"What we've seen in the last couple of days with our businesses and with the customers is heartening, and shows we're on the right track."
If approved by Council, the bylaw will take effect immediately and remain in effect until the next regularly scheduled Council meeting on August 26. Staff says Council may extend the bylaw for an additional period of time.