“You’re done,” – Premier Ford introduces stiff penalties for price-gougers
Current and would-be price gougers in Ontario have been warned.
"Stop right now, because it's un-Canadian, it's wrong and today, we're putting an end to it," Premier Doug Ford said Saturday in his latest news conference, announcing cabinet had approved an emergency order on price-gouging.
The new penalties include those for both individuals and corporations, that will "throw the book" says Ford:
-Individuals: a ticket of $750 or if summoned and convicted, a max penalty of a $100,000 find and year in jail.
-Corportations: fine for a company director or officer of up to $500,000, up to a year in jail and a fine to the corporation as a whole of $10 million.
The specific items listed by the ministry of government and consumer services that should be monitored include protective equipment like masks and gloves, medications, disinfecting and personal hygiene products.
The move stems from Thursday when Ford called out local high-end food store Pusateri's, after images of flyers in the store had gone viral, listing a container of Lysol wipes at $30.
The company has since issued two apologies, along with an explanation and promise it will never happen again.
As for enforcement of the new penalties, Ford said it'll be Ontarians essentially policing the stores, by calling 1-800-889-9768 or filing a report online and then bylaw officers will respond.
Ford said it's not just spotting something in store, but those that buy in bulk and then resell items online and hiked up prices.
"It's unacceptable," he said. "It's disgusting, how can you take advantage of people in this critical time, times that we've never seen in our province or around the world, and there's actually opportunists out there trying to gouge the people? I'm coming after them with vengeance."
But Ford said officers will use discretion, when asked about how some retailers have claimed they're only charging high prices because they're being charged more by their suppliers.
"We're going to do this case by case, so if we see a case, we will look into it, the inspectors will go in and we'll make sure we listen to the story," he said. "If they're paying, a manufacturer has to pay their employees double time, they understand that, it might go up a little bit."
"We're talking when they put a 500 per cent markup on it or a 1,000 per cent mark up on it."
After blasting Pusateri's on Thursday, Ford had a different callout on Saturday, a positive one for a small company called Contract Packaging in Rexdale, after hearing they were working this weekend on producing hand sanitizer and announcing he was planning to visit them.
"This is a small company, the two sons were there with their father on this machine putting together hand sanitizer, what an incredible story," he said. "You see a family working around the clock, putting together hand sanitizer."
"That's what I call the Ontario spirit."
With files from Heather Seaman