People not exercising physical distancing and doing things like walking Vancouver’s Seawall could face fines or arrest if they continue to ignore health officials in the COVID-19 crisis, Canada’s health minister said Sunday (March 22).
And that means the federal Emergencies Measures Act, the successor to the War Measures Act, is “on the table,” Patty Hajdu said.
“We will not hesitate to take stronger measures if we need to."
Hajdu specifically mentioned the Stanley Park walkway that has seen droves of people out socializing, as have other popular Lower Mainland sites.
She said she is asking people to maintain distancing.
“I am hoping we don’t have to get to ordering them,” Hajdu said.
“People need to take this seriously ... We would like to see people comply willingly."
Hajdu said provinces and territories have strong tools to deal with the crisis but if federal uniformity is needed, then the Emergencies Measures Act is an option.
Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said discussions continue on the global challenge to get testing kits.
"We’re putting out bets efforts forward," he said.
“We’re looking at new testing technologies.”
That would add to provincial and territorial toolboxes.
Hajdu said national labs have a turnaround time of 24 hours.
“Part of the logistics is also transportation which we are also working on,” Hajdu said.
Nineteen Canadians have died so far, most in a North Vancouver care home. Some 99,000 people have been tested with 1,388 positive results, Njoo said.
“That’s quite a number of negative tests,” he said
Hajdu said various provinces have problems and challenges but also tools for compliance
She said work continues to have “ a much more unified approach across the country.”
That could include the Emergency Measures Act, she said.
Parliament is set to return March 24 to pass emergency support measures.
The Senate is expected to sit on Wednesday to pass those measures.