Public Health Enforcement Update

News Type: 
Advisories

YELLOWKNIFE 5 August 2020 – The territory’s Compliance and Enforcement Taskforce has issued four Summary Offense Ticket Information charges for offenses under the Public Health Orders since last week’s update.

All tickets were issued for not following self-isolation protocols – reflective of these measures’ critical importance to our public health response – and all were issued to NWT residents who chose not to follow the public health orders. These charges are each for $1725 which includes a $225 Victims of Crime Surcharge.

On July 27, an individual in the North Slave region was charged after showing up in a public place after explicit advice from public health officials.

On July 28, an individual in the North Slave region was charged after a report they were in a public place while they were supposed to be self-isolating.

On July 29, two charges were issued in the Beaufort Delta after the individuals did not follow self-isolation protocols.

No further details on locations or names will be provided.

This brings the territory’s total of Summary Offense Ticket Information charges laid for non-compliance with public health orders to twelve.

Charges issued on July 27 and 28 were not included in last week’s update as records reconciliation occurred after the update was distributed.

Self-Isolation: Standing Together While Staying Apart

The Compliance and Enforcement team is troubled by the recent trend of self-isolation violations by NWT residents.

Mandatory self-isolation is critical to preventing outbreaks in the Northwest Territories – and essential to protecting our friends, our families, and our communities.

Even if someone isn’t with anyone while choosing to break the rules, they could wind up putting others they care about – like grandma or grandpa – at-risk.

That’s because if someone is in a public place or at an event, there is a chance they could wind up transmitting the virus to many others. This virus moves quickly even when someone has no symptoms – and a network of infections can grow from just one, to many as more people come into contact with each other.

So remember, if you’re self-isolating after a trip out of the territory within Canada, here’s the basics:

  • Stay home
  • Short walks are OK – but you can’t be with anyone you aren’t self-isolating with, and you can’t come within two metres of anyone else
  • No visitors – even if they’re two metres apart.
  • Get essentials delivered – and use a network of help to get what you need as much as you can.
  • If your residence is too small to stay away from others you haven’t traveled with, you have two choices:
    • Your whole household must self-isolate with you
    • You may stay at an Isolation Centre – just indicate it on your self-isolation plan when you submit it

We’ve done a great job of pushing back this virus so far – but COVID-19 is very good at taking advantage of slip-ups and poor decisions.

So our message to residents: stand together while staying apart to keep our communities safe.

Investigations: They Take Time

An alleged incident was reported in Fort Simpson last week relating to people not complying with the Travel Restrictions Order and not following self-isolation protocols, including attending an event.

This, understandably, has caused some anxiety in the town – and a number of calls for accountability.

We agree on the need for accountability – and in this instance, we want to assure residents of two things:

  1. We are taking action.
  2. There are no indications at this time that anyone is at risk of exposure in Fort Simpson.

The Compliance and Enforcement Taskforce’s job is to verify incidents through an investigation.

But public health investigations take time – more time than something like a speeding ticket or tickets for not shoveling your driveway from municipal enforcement would.

That’s because our officers generally don’t actually witness an incident like those officers would. This makes it more like an investigation of a robbery in the night – where you need witness accounts and other evidence to be able to substantiate your charge.

This is the right way to do things – because no officer should just be handing out tickets based on hearsay or anonymous complaints.

But it also means that residents cannot always expect enforcement to happen immediately after an incident comes to light.

You Can Take Control Of The Situation

We always like to remind everyone that in these anxious times, there are ways for residents to take control of the situation.

A really important part of our officers’ work is collecting on-the-record statements from witnesses. Anonymous complaints and innuendo are not enough to substantiate a charge.

So if you have information about an incident, please consider contacting our enforcement line and indicate that you have specific information about an offense, and agree to speak to investigators on-the-record.

If you do, you’ll be increasing the chance that we are able to substantiate a charge so the incident which made you feel anxious does not go without consequence.

To get in touch with enforcement, call 1-833-378-8297 or email ProtectNWT@gov.nt.ca. Include as much information as possible in your complaint, and if you are getting in-touch as a result of an incident which has already been discussed publicly, let us know in the subject line.

We take these investigations very seriously.

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