On Monday, an Ontario woman with a rare medical condition successfully had an expensive COVID fine revoked. This fine was imposed in 2021 due to her decision not to quarantine at a government-approved facility.
According to the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, suffers from chronic pain syndrome.
Before leaving New York, she endured a period of chronic pain that persisted even when she arrived at the Canadian border on August 3, 2021.
Despite establishing a suitable quarantine plan to accommodate her illness and reduce the risk of transmitting COVID, border officials ticketed her a whopping $6,225 for not staying at a government-approved facility upon her return.
According to federal travel regulations at the time, Canadians who travelled abroad had to pay out-of-pocket expenses for a three-day hotel stay. They faced a prohibition on returning directly to their residence.
But the Justice Centre said the woman’s chronic pain worsened at the time, so she required a wheelchair to move with the assistance of a caregiver.
The plaintiff could not quarantine outside her home, according to her lawyer, Charlene Le Beau of the Justice Centre.
Le Beau argued her client should have received a medical exemption under the Order in Council in effect at the time.
She contends that having a suitable quarantine plan established in advance made it permissible to drop the ticket against her client.
According to the plaintiff’s traveller intake form at the Canadian border, she established a suitable quarantine plan to accommodate her illness while reducing the risk of transmitting COVID to her caregiver.
The woman made alternative arrangements to quarantine for 14 days in a separate area of her home, with the assistance of her mother.
Le Beau also said that given 25 months had elapsed between the issuing of the ticket and the trial date that her client had her Charter Rights violated pursuant to an “unreasonable delay.”
Section 11(b) of the Charter states that “any person charged with an offence has the right to be tried within a reasonable time.”
“The right to be tried for a charge within a reasonable time is a fundamental principle of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and a trial 25 months after the date of a charge would not have been reasonable,” said Le Beau.
Crown prosecutors entered a stay of proceedings on Monday, dropping the ticket and fine against the woman.
“We are happy that justice has been achieved in this particular case, even if it took too long,” said Justice Centre president John Carpay.
“However, this victory does not undo the damage which the federal government inflicted on thousands of Canadians through its dangerous and utterly unscientific policy of locking Canadians up in prison hotels, thereby causing more contact and more interactions with more people,” he added.