Speaking today, Premier Doug Ford announced new penalties that will hold businesses accountable if they try to significantly raise prices on items Ontarians need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Effective immediately, a government-issued emergency order states that retail businesses and individuals in Ontario cannot charge unfair prices for necessary goods such as:
- Masks and gloves used as personal protective equipment in relation to infections.
- Non-prescription medications for the treatment of the symptoms of the coronavirus.
- Disinfecting agents intended for cleaning and disinfecting objects or humans.
- Personal hygiene products, including soap products and paper products.
Individual offenders could face a ticket of $750 or, if convicted in court, a maximum penalty of a $100,000 fine and one year in jail.
If convicted, a company director or officer could face a fine of up to $500,000 and up to a year in jail, while a corporation could face a fine of up to $10 million.
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“Starting today, we are taking serious steps to ensure our frontline workers, our families and our most vulnerable citizens have what they need to stay safe,” said Ford.
“We are putting an end to those trying to profit off of one of the darkest periods in our province’s history. If you’re engaging in price gouging on necessary goods, we are going to slap you with a ticket or you could face fines or jail time.”
The order will be in effect for the duration of the province’s declared emergency.
According to the government, unfair or unconscionable prices are defined as a price that grossly exceeds the price at which similar goods are readily available to like consumers, in accordance with principles from the Consumer Protection Act.
Consumers can report price gouging by calling 1-800-889-9768 on weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. or by filing a report online.