Ford unveils new fines to punish 'un-Canadian' price gouging, bans gatherings of five people or more
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Saturday, March 28, 2020 1:50PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, March 28, 2020 9:34PM EDT
An angry Premier Ford vowed his government announced new fines for any company proved to be selling essential pandemic goods such as masks, hand sanitizer or gloves at a drastic markup, calling the practice “un-Canadian.”
Under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, anyone seen selling goods at “unconscionable” prices could face anything from a $750 ticket to an individual fine of $100,000.
A director of a corporation convicted of gouging could be fined up to $500,000 and the corporation itself could see a fine of up to $10 million.
“If you’re selling face masks, gloves, cold medicine, hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes and you’re hiking the price five or ten times, then you’re done, you’re gone,” Ford said. “Because we’re coming after you.”
The new fines will be enforceable as long as provincial emergency measures are in effect.
Ford asked anyone who witnesses gouging to call Consumer Protection Ontario at 1-800-889-9768.
The Act defines an “unconscionable price” as a price that “grossly exceeds the price at which similar goods are readily available.”
Ford defined it as something every hard-working Ontarian can detect without referring to any provincial legislation.
“When you’re finding that little (hand sanitizer) jug that’s typically sold for $5 being sold for $30, or hand wipes that sell for five, six or seven bucks, going for $30, that’s gouging,” he said, referring in one instance to Toronto grocer Pusateri’s which advertised Lysol wipes for $30 apiece.
The grocer apologized and offered to refund all sales, blaming internal error.
Gathering of five people or more prohibited
Ontario has issued an emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection act to prohibit organized events and social events of more than five people effective immediately.
The new order replaces the previous emergency order prohibiting organized public events of over 50 people.
Parades, weddings, social gatherings, and communal services within places of worship are considered organized public events.
"If we are going to stop the spread of COVID-19 now and keep our communities safe, we need to take extraordinary measures to ensure physical distancing," said Ford. "I strongly encourage everyone to do the responsible thing and stay home unless absolutely necessary. I can assure everyone that we will do everything in our power to stop this virus in its tracks."
The order does not apply to private households with five people or more, Ford said. It would also not apply to childcare centres supporting healthcare workers and first responders given the number of individuals at each centre does not exceed 50 people.
Funerals would be permitted to proceed with up to 10 people at one time, officials said.