A church in the rural municipality of Hanover, Man., is going to be digging into its coffers after a fine was levied against it for disobeying public health orders.
The Church of God Restoration south of Steinbach was slapped with a $5,000 ticket by RCMP, the most allowable under the province’s public health act for a business.
It comes after the church held a service on Sunday morning, just days after the province banned all faith-based gatherings amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.
RCMP say there were “well over” 100 people inside the church.
No fines were initially issued, because Mounties say the responding officers had to balance police and public safety.
Earlier this week, Minister Tobias Tiessen says he received two fines of $1,296, the maximum individual amount, for holding the service.
Pastor Heinrich Hildebrandt says the fines are unconstitutional.
“It is unprecedented in Canada to fine a church or a pastor for conducting their God-called duties,” he wrote in a written statement to Global News on Wednesday night.
Hildebrandt says the fines violate both the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as the Canadian Criminal Code.
“We condemn these actions and call on all law enforcement officials to cease enforcing unconstitutional orders immediately.”
Days before the weekend service, the province’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, noted the town of Steinbach had a 10-day test positivity rate of 40 per cent, one of the largest numbers in Canada.