When new restrictions around COVID-19 first came down toward the end of November and more things were shut down, the province was asked whether or not it was considering stiffer fines for people who ignore public health orders. Apparently, the answer was yes. 

The provincial government announced today they were introducing legislation to strengthen the emergency planning response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, they were introducing The Emergency Planning Amendment Act, which would increase the fines for those violating emergency orders. 

“The people of Saskatchewan continue to show their strength during these difficult times, and the government is committed to putting the necessary measures in place to ensure the health, safety, and economic well-being of our province,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Gordon Wyant said.

The new maximum fines will be $7,500 for individuals and $100,000 for corporations, up from $2,000 and $10,000 respectively. The province added the police would still issue tickets for minor offenses, and these newly increased fines were aimed at more serious violations, though they did not specify what those might be. 

The new legislation will also, they said, provide clarity on protections from lawsuits based on COVID-19 transmission for those who follow emergency orders and other applicable laws. This liability protection won't apply when there was gross negligence involved. Similar laws recently came down in Ontario and British Columbia. 

“This Act will honour the tremendous efforts of individuals, organizations, and businesses that are working on the frontline while complying with public health rules and requirements,” Wyant said.

"The Emergency Planning Act was not originally designed to address an ongoing emergency on the magnitude of COVID-19," the province said in a release. "The long-term and large-scale nature of this pandemic has highlighted the need for updated legislation."