July 30, 2021
Since the outset of the pandemic, we’ve been concerned about unfair, discriminatory punitive approaches to a public health crisis. We can’t police our way out of a pandemic. Our two co-authored reports on COVID-19 and law enforcement, Stay off the Grass (June 2020) and The Second Wave (May 2021), systematically tracked which jurisdictions were the most punitive, and documented dozens of individuals’ experiences with unfair, unnecessary, discriminatory tickets and law enforcement actions.
On July 9, 2021, the Toronto Ombudsman released a report into ticketing in Toronto’s parks at the outset of the pandemic. The report concludes that the ticketing of park users during that time was generally unfair. It includes details of internal and external communication failures, discriminatory enforcement, and an unfair and ill-advised ‘zero tolerance’ policy. In short – it is a robust affirmation of many of the issues we have been raising since the pandemic began.
Many of these tickets are still before the courts – in our view, proceeding with prosecutions now would only compound the initial injustice. We’ve written to Toronto City Council and will continue to advocate for an amnesty on unfair COVID tickets.
Read our Toronto Star oped calling on Toronto to refund people for the unfair tickets they already paid and urging the province to drop any ongoing prosecutions.
About the Canadian Civil Liberties Association
The CCLA is an independent, non-profit organization with supporters from across the country. Founded in 1964, the CCLA is a national human rights organization committed to defending the rights, dignity, safety, and freedoms of all people in Canada.
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