Refusing to Identify yourself if Caught in Emergency Order Breach Could End in Fine or Imprisonment

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is now allowed to legally request full names, date of birth and address, if you are in breach of the emergency order intended to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

The emergency order currently in place includes:

  • Closing non-essential businesses.
  • Prohibiting organized events and social gatherings of more than five people.
  • Stopping price gouging on necessary goods (disinfectant products, toiletries, masks and gloves, etc.). 

If you are caught by a provincial officer breaking any of these and refuse to identify yourself, you could face substantial fines under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA). 

The temporary measure was approved by the Ontario government and empowers provincial offences officers -  police officers, First Nations constables, special constables and municipal by-law enforcement officers - to perform these actions.

The  EMPCA was updated to include fines for the following offences:

  • $750 for failing to properly identify yourself to an officer if charged with breach.
  • $1000 for obstruction of any person exercising a power in accordance with an order made during a declared emergency. 
  • $1000 for obstruction of any person performing a duty in accordance with an order made during a declared emergency. 

Other punishments could include, (in addition to other penalties for breach) up to a year jail time or a fine of $100,000 for an individual, $500,000 for a director of a corporation, or $10,000,000 for a business if a provincial officer charges an individual by issuing a summons.  

The Ontario Public Health department continues to advise people to stay away from public places for non-essentials.