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Reports of Covid-19 wrongdoing, but RCMP have yet to issue fines in Nunavut

There have been complaints about Nunavummiut violating Covid-19 emergency orders from the chief public health officer but, as of Tuesday, the RCMP had not yet ticketed any residents.

The RCMP have not yet written any tickets to Nunavummiut for contravening Covid-19 emergency orders, according to Cpl. Jamie Savikataaq.

In Iqaluit, there have been a few reports of individuals offering services such as haircutting or massages that would not be in line with social distancing measures, according to Rod Mugford, acting chief enforcement officer with the city’s Municipal Enforcement Department.

There have also been complaints about improper gatherings, as Nunavut is currently limited to five people congregating at a time.

All of those alleged incidents have been passed along to the RCMP or environmental health officers for investigation, said Mugford.

The territorial Department of Health stated that a total of 19 complaints from across Nunavut have been filed with environmental health officers but no fines had been levied as of May 11.

RCMP corporal Jame Savikataaq said the RCMP have received very few, if any, direct complaints from residents about Covid-19 emergency orders being defied. Officers occasionally encounter gatherings of more than five people but they have responded by dispersing the groups and verbally reinforcing the existing limitations on people assembling, he said.

There have, however, been a couple of combative individuals who have spat at the RCMP while claiming to be infected with Covid-19, according to Savikataaq.

“On occasion our officers do get spat at. It’s unfortunate, but it does happen,” he said, adding that such instances don’t result in Covid-19 penalties but instead a charge of assaulting a peace officer under the Criminal Code of Canada.

In late March, the territorial government announced fines of up to $50,000 or up to six months in jail for those who fail to self-isolate for 14 days. The Department of Justice empowered municipal enforcement officers, sheriffs from the Nunavut Court of Justice, environmental health inspectors and wildlife officers to enforce emergency orders from the chief public health officer, although the department refers the public to the RCMP as the first point of contact.

In Kugluktuk, bylaw officers broke up several illegal card games in mid-April.

Mugford said Iqaluit municipal enforcement officers are taking an approach of educating Iqalummiut in regards to Covid-19 emergency orders.

“The educational thing is a big part. If you don’t get compliance with the education then I guess you have limited options and that’s when fines are issued,” he said, adding that his department has good lines of communication with Nunavut’s other enforcement agencies.