Sask. police responding to few disturbances involving vaccine pass

Saskatchewan police haven't had to respond to very many disturbances resulting from the new vaccine pass system.

Leader Post 3 minute read October 6, 2021

Regina Police Chief Evan Bray is seen speaking with the Leader-Post following a Board of Police Commissioners meeting held at City Hall in Regina, Saskatchewan on Oct. 4, 2021. BRANDON HARDER / Regina Leader-Post

From some irate liquor store customers to wanna-be movie goers, police around the province are fielding a few more disturbance complaints related to Saskatchewan’s new proof of vaccination program.

Speaking after the Board of Police Commissioners meeting on Monday, Regina Police Service Chief Evan Bray said the RPS had fielded some calls from people upset about having to show their vaccination proof when buying booze.

“I’ve heard lots of feedback from people showing up at liquor stores over the last few days, not realizing that they had to show proof of vaccination there,” said Bray. “And so that, I know, has caused even phone calls to our police service, with people upset about that.”

The RPS was also contacted regarding a group of three people at a movie theatre on Saturday who refused to provide proof of vaccine, but the call for service was cancelled when the group left on their own.

On Monday, police were contacted regarding a man at a liquor store who refused to leave and was being argumentative with staff, but the man left on his own.

While things have remained relatively calm in Regina, an incident at a Saskatoon pub resulted in a physical altercation between staff and patrons. Police seized a pellet gun in that incident.

The RCMP said since Oct. 1, it has received four reports of disturbances in Saskatchewan related to someone being asked to show proof of vaccination. No further details were provided.

Under the province’s Public Health Order, starting Oct. 1, residents must provide proof of vaccination or a negative test when entering restaurants, bars, liquor or cannabis stores, cinemas, theatres, bingo halls, gyms, live-music venues and indoor facilities hosting ticketed sporting events.

Asked this week about complaints since the new mandate took effect, the Saskatchewan Health Authority said it could not provide any data. Asked about penalties, the SHA said in an email that a business violating the order by permitting access without proof of either vaccination or testing could be subject to a summary offence ticket, which carries a voluntary payment of $2,000 for individuals and $10,000 for corporations but jumps to $2,800 and $14,000 respectively with inclusion of the mandatory victim surcharge.

While police may be called if there is an immediate need for their presence, most complaints involving breach of the Public Health Orders fall under the purview of public health inspectors. The province has a “non-compliance reporting” form on its website for those wanting to report a health order violation.

Jamie Blunden, chief of the Weyburn Police Service, said police had no calls for service regarding disturbances involving the vaccine pass. Police did respond to a group of people protesting the Public Health Order at a local mall and advised them they were on private property. The protesters dispersed peacefully.

“Everybody’s been pretty peaceful down here. I know we’ve had a couple of hockey games over at the rink and everything was moving very, very smoothly with respect to scanning everybody for their vaccines and there were no real issues whatsoever,” said Blunden.

A spokesperson for the Prince Albert Police Service said they were not aware of police having to respond to disturbances involving the vaccine pass.

Residents can report health order violations by calling the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency at 1-855-559-5502 or by filling out a form here.

mmelnychuk@postmedia.com