Covid-19 – RCMP Enforcement Of The Quarantine Act
Date: March 8, 2021
Branch / Agency: RCMP
- The RCMP remains in a high state of readiness to respond in the context of the ongoing pandemic, and RCMP personnel are continuing their work to uphold public safety and ensure Canadians continue to receive dedicated and professional policing services based on national, provincial, municipal and Indigenous priorities.
- The RCMP is working in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and other law enforcement partners, to ensure compliance with Quarantine Act requirements for border and self-isolation measures.
Enforcement of the Quarantine Act
- Questions regarding the federal Quarantine Act, or requirements that fall under it, should be directed to the Public Health Agency of Canada, which administers the Act.
- Peace officers can assist in the administration or enforcement of the Quarantine Act. From an operational perspective, the RCMP continues to assist in the enforcement of the Quarantine Act in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and other police of jurisdiction.
- The RCMP is also assisting the Public Health Agency of Canada in a liaison role with local police of jurisdiction; the RCMP plays a coordination role for all Canadian law enforcement by ensuring the appropriate police of jurisdiction are provided with the information required to conduct physical verification of compliance with the Quarantine Act Orders.
Designated Quarantine Facilities
- Generally, police of jurisdiction will respond to law enforcement issues that may arise at Designated Quarantine Facilities, such as assaults, protests or disturbances of the peace.
- Any potential RCMP presence at Designated Quarantine Facilities in locations where it is not the police of jurisdiction would require further consideration, including consultations with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the responsible provincial government and the police of jurisdiction.
- The RCMP is not the police of jurisdiction in the vicinity of the airports in Ontario and Québec. The RCMP is the police of jurisdiction in Richmond, British Columbia, where the Vancouver International Airport is located; but not in Calgary, Alberta.
- RCMP officers are considered “screening officers” under the Quarantine Act. In addition, as peace officers, they can provide assistance for the purposes of administration or enforcement of the Quarantine Act.
- The RCMP is part of the expanded presence at the Vancouver International Airport where the RCMP is the police of jurisdiction, given the new measures including requiring air travellers entering Canada to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result and pre-booking a stay at a Government Authorized Accommodation.
- As of March 4, 2021, zero violation tickets had been issued at the Vancouver International Airport for people failing to quarantine at a Government Authorized Accommodation.
Support to the Public Health Agency of Canada
- As noted, the RCMP is playing a coordination role with law enforcement across the country. At the national level, the RCMP distributes information received from the Public Health Agency of Canada by province and territory, either to the provincial or territorial RCMP, or to the Ontario Provincial Police and the Sûreté du Québec, who in turn, share the information with the appropriate police of jurisdiction in their respective provinces.
- Where individuals are in isolation or quarantine pursuant to Quarantine Act Orders, the police of jurisdiction is responsible for determining the appropriate law enforcement response to non-compliance, in consultation with public health authorities.
- The RCMP has instructed its policing divisions to track the results of compliance checks conducted on travellers, including any enforcement actions related to the Quarantine Act Orders. This information is sent back to RCMP National Headquarters and is shared with the Public Health Agency of Canada to assess and guide the effectiveness of these public safety efforts.
Approach to Enforcement
- Police officers have discretion in how they enforce the law, and RCMP officers have the training, skills and ability to use a measured approach when addressing COVID-19-related situations.
- When enforcing the law in the various RCMP jurisdictions, RCMP officers use a risk-based, measured approach to non-compliance. The will include ensuring that returning travellers are complying with measures and, when appropriate, taking enforcement action for those that are found to be non-compliant.
- Not all Public Health Agency of Canada referrals require physical verification by the police.
Referrals, Compliance Checks and Fines
- The RCMP has conducted thousands of compliance checks on returning travellers to ensure their compliance with Orders to quarantine or isolate for 14 days after returning to Canada [except in Ontario and, as of February 1, 2021, in Québec].
- Hundreds of urgent verifications requests from the Public Health Agency of Canada have been actioned to check on travellers potentially not respecting the Orders. In addition, the RCMP has conducted hundreds of investigations and issued warnings and tickets to returning travellers who have violated the Quarantine Act.
- As of March 1, 2021, the RCMP has taken proactive action in relation to approximately 70,475 travellers flagged for follow-up by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
- The most common outcome was confirmed compliance, where travellers were found to be successfully quarantining.
- Outside of Ontario and Québec, the RCMP is responsible for working with policing partners to delegate verification checks on behalf of the Public Health Agency of Canada, which involves the dedication of a significant amount of time and resources to coordinate.
- In addition, as of March 1, 2021, the RCMP recorded a total of 129 fines issued under the federal Quarantine Act, totalling $169,353.75 [RCMP data is tabulated monthly].
- The Public Safety Portfolio is working in close collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and other federal partners to ensure proper enforcement measures are in place, and that the provinces and territories are playing an active role in their own jurisdictions.
- Canada’s national police service remains vigilant, is maintaining essential policing services and is working to mitigate potential future risks during this challenging time.
The RCMP has implemented a national Gold-Silver-Bronze Command Structure to coordinate and manage the RCMP’s actions in response to COVID-19. This structure provides a framework for the delivery of strategic (Gold), tactical (Silver) and operational (Bronze) control in response to the ongoing pandemic. It facilitates the establishment of processes for: (1) communications protocols; (2) the movement of equipment and personnel; (3) the flow of information; and, (4) event management responsibilities. RCMP divisions have also established structures and varying measures to coordinate the response to COVID-19 in their respective jurisdictions, guided by the unique circumstances and complexities they face, including differing provincial legislative and health services regimes.
Quarantine Act Enforcement
The RCMP is working with Public Safety, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to manage the enforcement of the Quarantine Act nationally. As part of this enforcement, the RCMP is working closely with the Ontario Provincial Police, Sûreté du Québec, and other local police of jurisdiction across Canada. Where it is the police force of jurisdiction (POJ), the RCMP is conducting compliance checks on individuals who have had self-isolation requirements imposed upon them by public health authorities.
As of March 1, 2021, PHAC had referred 554,644 Priority 1, 2, and 3 individuals to the RCMP. These numbers exclude Ontario and Québec, where the RCMP is currently not involved in completing Quarantine Act-related enforcement activities. As of February 1, 2021, the RCMP is no longer conducting Quarantine Act-related enforcement activities in Québec. The cumulative numbers of PHAC referrals do include referrals to Québec up to January 31, 2021.
Priority 1, or high priority, is for individuals that PHAC asks police to check and report back on. As of March 1, 2021, the RCMP has received information on 14,420 Priority 1 individuals, excluding Ontario.
Priority 2, or medium priority, are those where RCMP divisions conduct verification checks as time and resources allow, based on the operational policing priorities for their respective division. As of March 1, 2021, the RCMP has received information on 384,007 Priority 2 individuals, excluding Ontario.
Priority 3, or low priority, are those where RCMP divisions conduct verification checks if there is an identified need or requirement and if time and resources permit. Checks are not required on these individuals. As of March 1, 2021, the RCMP has received information on 156,217 Priority 3 individuals, excluding Ontario.
Not all PHAC referrals require a physical verification. When there is time and resources to do so, RCMP officers will conduct physical verification checks on PHAC identified individuals.
As of March 1, 2021, the RCMP recorded a total of 129 fines issued under the federal Quarantine Act, totalling $169,353.75 (RCMP data is tabulated monthly). These numbers only pertain to charges under the federal Quarantine Act. In some instances, the RCMP has issued violation tickets under local acts or regulations relating to non-compliance of isolation orders, where it is the POJ in municipalities, provinces or territories. The statistics related to this local enforcement are captured at that level, not nationally. As a result, these figures are not reflective of the fines whereby the RCMP is the POJ acting under the direction of local health acts.
Four (4) individuals have been charged by the RCMP under the Quarantine Act. In separate occurrences, all four subjects entered Canada and did not quarantine themselves in accordance with instructions provided by officials upon entry into Canada and did not remain in quarantine until the expiry of the 14-day period as required by the Quarantine Act Order in force at the applicable time, contrary to section 58 of the Quarantine Act, thereby committing an offence pursuant to section 26 and/or section 71 of that Act.
Support for the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
The RCMP established a team of resources solely responsible for supporting PHAC with respect to the list of travellers that are received on a daily basis. This team divides and categorizes the list by province or territory prior to be being sent out.
The RCMP National Operations Centre is being used to communicate with RCMP and other police of jurisdiction all relevant information received from PHAC related to the Quarantine Act. This includes distributing the daily list of travellers to the appropriate division or police of jurisdiction. For Ontario and Québec, the RCMP established points of contact within the Ontario Provincial Police and Sûreté du Québec respectively, which then distribute the list to the appropriate police of jurisdiction.
The RCMP has provided advice and guidance from a law enforcement perspective to PHAC in relation to various initiatives (i.e., private security doing lower risk compliance checks, Designated Quarantine Facilities [DQF], Government Authorized Accommodation [GAAs], setting up swabbing centres as border points of entry, etc.). The RCMP has assigned an Inspector at the PHAC / Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Operations Centre to collaborate with them to gather intelligence and information, from all sources, in relation to security incidents and threats involving vaccine distribution. The RCMP is also assessing the potential for security incidents and threats against DQFs, GAAs and border points of entry in collaboration with partners.
The CBSA referrals the RCMP has received are known as “Lookouts”, which the CBSA provides based on determinations made by their Border Screening Officers that travellers are or are likely to not comply with quarantine or isolation orders. The CBSA also shares this information with PHAC. The global traveller information provided to PHAC by CBSA contains the same travellers who were flagged as a “Lookout” to RCMP NHQ. When the traveller information is provided to PHAC, it remains there for six days. In that time, PHAC attempts to make contact with travellers in question, prioritize travellers for follow-up by law enforcement and prepare the information on the priority travellers they provide to police to perform physical verification checks. Getting a “Lookout” referral from the CBSA essentially gives the RCMP an early warning on an individual that may also be flagged through the PHAC process.
The RCMP has a shared responsibility in maintaining the security of Canada’s borders with other partners. Since the COVID-19 border measures were first implemented, the RCMP has worked closely with the CBSA, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, PHAC, as well as U.S. counterparts to exchange information and intelligence for enhanced enforcement efforts by all agencies.
The RCMP works to maintain the security of Canada’s borders by detecting and preventing criminal activity occurring on land, air, or marine between the ports of entries (POE). Irregular border crossers seeking asylum intercepted by the RCMP are assessed for risk of COVID-19, informed of their requirements to abide by the Orders and provided with appropriate precautions to reduce the spread of the virus, before being transferred to the closest CBSA office. Any person detected crossing into Canada for other purposes between official POEs will be arrested and, pending the circumstances, charged with the applicable offenses.
With respect to the recent land border Orders in Council, interdepartmental regional teams (CBSA, PHAC, CAF, PS and POJ) were successfully implemented at 16 key land POEs, deemed to have the highest volume of non-essential returning travellers. The RCMP was instrumental in the key early planning stages and the implementation of both strategic and tactical networks to ensure compliance and enforcement requirements at the land border POEs were implemented in accordance with the Orders in Council.
In addition to these measures, the RCMP is focussed on consistent collaboration amongst RCMP divisions and partners’ regional offices, as well as concurrent coordination of communication, intelligence and enforcement efforts to maintain effective national awareness as to the integrity of Canada’s borders throughout this pandemic.
Prepared by: Konrad Roberts, A/Manager, Strategic Policy, Contract and Indigenous Policing, RCMP; 343-542-2628
Approved by: Brian Brennan, Deputy Commissioner, Contract and Indigenous Policing, RCMP; 613-843-4632
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