According to a report in La Presse Tuesday, the federal government has hired private security firms to help ensure that travellers returning to Canada comply with the quarantine rules put into place to fight the spread of COVID-19.
Marc Parent, CEO of the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires, Quebec division, confirmed that his organization has been contracted by the Canadian government for this task.
“We will deploy our agents to go straight to the residences of travellers classified in quarantine and check their presence at home,” Parent told La Presse.
The Canadian Corps of Commissionaires is a non-profit organization whose social mission is to offer jobs for former Canadian military personnel. Parent said a few hundred Commissionaires, including twenty in Quebec, will fulfill this mandate.
La Presse said that surveillance efforts would be more concentrated in Montreal and Toronto.
The same report said that international security giant Garda World has also been approached by the federal government, but the company would not confirm the news.
“For security reasons, we never share our customer list. We invite you directly to contact the Public Health Agency of Canada in order to have the answers to your questions,” a Garda World spokesperson replied by email.
Government agencies would not confirm the report.
At this point, enforcement of the Quarantine Act relies mostly on a random automated call system and is enforced by local police.
Between March 25, 2020 and January 5, 2021, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) reported that 126 tickets were issued to non-conforming travellers (with fines ranging from $ 275 to $ 1,000), along with eight indictments, 196 verbal warnings and 22 written warnings across the country.
Since the beginning of the year, the RCMP says it has imposed 85 fines totaling $82,656.25 on people under the Quarantine Act.
The RCMP added that it “took action on approximately 52,917 travelers reported by PHAC for follow-up,” which most often consisted of a visit to see if the traveller was in quarantine.
The idea of using private security firms to enforce public health orders during the pandemic is not new as Manitoba hired a private security firm in November to do just that.