Timmins police will focus on educating people about vaccine passports before laying charges

As the Province of Ontario gets ready to roll out its vaccine passport, police agencies throughout the province will be on standby to enforce the rules.

Beginning Sept. 22, proof of vaccination status will be required to eat indoors at restaurants and bars, to work out in gyms, go to movie theatres and other event spaces.

The province said a variety of officials will be expected to enforce the use of the passports, including police, special constables, First Nation constables, bylaw officers and public health inspectors.

The province said enforcement will be gradual, much like it has been throughout the pandemic.

Timmins Police Service officials said so far throughout the pandemic, it's been more effective to educate people first before any enforcement takes place.

"We have laid a number of charges, but those were last resort," said Marc Depatie, communications coordinator for Timmins Police Service. "Most typically, our officers tend to try and educate first, make people aware of the fact there is a law in place and they are in fact in breach and if we gain compliance, then the matter is resolved. If we don’t then a more stern enforcement approach has to be adopted.”

He added the Timmins Police Service has had some calls to 911 about people breaking COVID regulations -- customers not wearing masks, disobeying physical distancing rules and refusing to leave premises.

And, he added, some charges have been laid.