Here’s how many social distancing fines Mississauga has issued amid COVID-19 outbreak

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While many housebound warriors eager to dial 3-1-1 or tweet the city have reportedly observed dozens of flagrant and obscene social/physical distancing violations in Mississauga, it looks like most residents are actually being quite respectful of the new rules set by the province. 

Catherine Monast, a spokesperson with the City of Mississauga, told insauga.com that the municipality has only issued 14 COVID-19 related tickets to date. 

Monast also said that residents appear to be getting the message. 

"Messaging on the importance of physical distancing and the city’s various enforcement efforts will continue to be sent by the city," Monast said in an email to insauga.com. 

"We have noted support for physical distancing and many shares on social media supporting our work to keep the community safe." 

While some people have been fined $750 for violating the province's Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) in Mississauga—including two people who were using a city skate park that was clearly closed—it appears that most people are abiding by the new law voluntarily. 

The low number of tickets could also be connected to the city's focus on educating people rather than rushing to fine them immediately. 

At an April 1 city council meeting, several councillors expressed fears that bylaw officers could feel pressured to respond too harshly to people who are simply unaware that they cannot gather in a group of more than five people (which is a change from the 50-person rule first introduced by the province). 

At the meeting, City Manager Janice Baker said that officers are working to educate people on the new rules and issuing warnings. 

At the same meeting, Ward 5 Councillor Carolyn Parrish warned against instituting overly draconian enforcement measures, saying that some people--such as children and teens--might be lingering in parks to avoid abusive parents.

“Access to parks is important for children who are being locked in a house with abusive parents. We have to be sensitive, we have to understand we have a very cooperative populace,” Parrish said.

Parrish also warned council that some residents might abuse the reporting system and call 311 to tattle on (or lie about) a neighbour they dislike. 

“Some neighbours will scream about bylaw offences because they hate their neighbour,” she said, adding that she appreciates the city’s approach so far.

“I like the mayor’s tone and I hope it continues,” she said.

As of now, all gatherings of five or more people who do not live in the same household are banned in accordance with the EMCPA. 

The act also prohibits people from operating non-essential businesses, such as salons, gyms or clothing stores. 

Residents who violate the act could face fines of $750 or $1,000. Additionally, failure to comply with an emergency order could carry punishments of up to one-year imprisonment or a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual, $500,000 for a director of a corporation, or $10,000,000 for a corporation itself if a provincial offences officer charges the individual by issuing a summons.

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