The Ontario government has issued an emergency order that could see price gougers of essential items facing jail time amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve all seen the terrible examples of those who are trying to take advantage of vulnerable people during these dark days,” Premier Doug Ford said Saturday.
“Those who see one of the darkest periods in our province’s history as an opportunity to gouge people and make huge profits. My friends, I have zero tolerance for this kind of nonsense.”
The government said individual offenders could face a fine of $750, or, if summoned and convicted in court, could face a $100,000 fine and one year in jail.
A company director or officer could be fined up to $500,000 and face up to one year in jail, while a corporation could be handed a fine of $10 million.
“There’s very few bad apples out there and companies, but they’re out there,” Ford said.
“I’m coming after them with a vengeance.”
Ford said his government worked with the Retail Council of Canada and the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, and both support the new measures.
Masks and gloves used as personal protective equipment for infections, disinfecting agents, personal hygienic products including soap, and non-prescription medications used to treat coronavirus symptoms are among the goods affected by the order.
The premier previously talked about Pusateri’s, a specialty foods store, that had been charging $30 for Lysol disinfecting wipes. Ford said it’s “absolutely disgusting” that the company would take advantage of people.
The company later apologized, said it was a mistake, and offered anyone who purchased the wipes a full refund.
The government has set up a complaint line and website where people can report price gouging.
— With files from The Canadian PressView link »