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A number of individuals and faith communities in British Columbia are not taking their COVID-19 fines sitting down.
Today, the Justice Centre of Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) announced that it would be challenging 16 tickets, worth $2,300 each, that have been issued for violating BC’s current public health orders.
According to the JCCF, the individuals and faith groups that it represents have been “issued whopping fines” for holding services despite having gone through extraordinary lengths to comply with health guidelines.
For many, accessing online services isn’t possible, which makes an in-person gathering essential to their spiritual and emotional well-being, says a statement from the JCCF.
“The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the right of citizens to protest and to gather for religious worship and puts the onus on government to show that any infringement of Charter freedoms is justified in the circumstances,” said Marty Moore, a JCCF staff lawyer.
On Jan. 7, the JCCF filed a petition that challenges the BC government’s lockdown on the basis that they unjustifiably violate the rights and freedoms of BC residents.
“Individuals across the province of BC have been issued significant fines for responsibly exercising their fundamental Charter rights and freedoms,” added Moore.
“The JCCF’s legal team will be challenging each of these tickets in court. COVID-19 does not cancel Canadians’ constitutional rights.”
The JCCF argues that these severe measures and fines are being imposed on BC residents, while the government allows hundreds to gather at any given time in a Walmart or Costco, or sit with five others at a bar.
Here’s a list of the 16 individuals and faith communities that the JCCF will represent: