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July 9, 2021

TORONTO – Abby Deshman, Criminal Justice Director for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) made the following statement in reaction to the findings of the Toronto Ombudsman regarding by-law enforcement of COVID-19 laws in Toronto parks;

This report is a robust affirmation of the issues we have been raising since the pandemic began: The adoption of an inappropriate “zero tolerance” enforcement policy. Racial profiling, and concerns regarding the disproportionate impacts of policing and fines on the most vulnerable communities. Inaccurate information and unnavigable processes for those who wanted to challenge, or even just pay, their fines.

It is clear that the ticketing we saw in Toronto at the outset of the pandemic was unfair, and in our view a counterproductive punitive approach to a public health crisis.

Many of these tickets are still before the courts – proceeding with prosecutions now would only compound the initial injustice.

It is time for an amnesty.

We are calling on the fines that are still pending to be withdrawn – and for the City to proactively work to refund the full cost of any fines that individuals have already paid.


Read the Toronto Ombudsman Report here.

Read CCLA’s June 2020 Report: “Stay off the Grass: COVID-19 and Law Enforcement in Canada” here.

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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