A Simcoe, Ont., mother says she is in shock after being slapped with an $880 fine for allegedly breaking the province’s coronavirus stay-at-home order.
Natasha Kohl said she was simply dropping her children off at her father-in-law’s home for child care while she ran a few errands.
“I think it’s crazy because I did explain to the officer that that was my father-in-law who had the kids and he clearly watched me pick up my three kids from the house,” she told Global News Monday afternoon.
According to the Ontario government, attending, obtaining or providing child care is permitted under the stay-at-home order. However, Derek Rogers, the media relations coordinator for the OPP’s west region office, disputed Kohl’s claim she did not breach the rules.
“I would like to point out that this individual was not charged for dropping her kids off at grandparents. She was charged for violating the Reopening Ontario Act,” he wrote in a statement on Monday.
The OPP’s Norfolk county detachment responded to the call Saturday afternoon after receiving a complaint.
“It was determined that police were contacted after several people were seen at the residence. Officers attending the area subsequently stopped a vehicle seen leaving and conducted an investigation,” Const. Ed Sanchuk said in a news release.
But Kohl said the only people in the residence at the time other than her children were those that lived there.
“He turned on his lights and pulled us over and my daughter said, ‘Why is he pulling us over?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know,’ so I waited for him to come to the window and that’s when he said they had complaints of high traffic in the house,” she said.
Kohl said her father-in-law was also charged.
“They actually followed me, pulled me over, ticketed me, and then they went back and went back to the place of interest and talked to my father-in-law,” she said.
“So if you think there are complaints about a party and high traffic instead of staking out the house you follow me and my three kids who I picked up since you watched me, you should have been going to the house first and busting whoever was there.”
The mother-of-four said she wants the Ontario government to clarify the current rules for law enforcement.
“From my understanding child care was not taken out, so if you had to take your kids to daycare or you had to have a family member watch your kids I thought that you were allowed to.”
Kohl also said parents should take her experience as a warning.
“I would say if you need child care and that’s what you need to do it, but just be aware sometimes you aren’t going to be that lucky and I wasn’t lucky. I got the ticket and a full-price ticket and not a warning, not even a partial ticket, I got the full $880”.
Kohl, who is white, also said the officer initially watched her vehicle leave the residence without stopping her.
“I don’t want to make out as a racist thing, but to be honest I was a single white woman who got in a vehicle drove by him he ignored me the first time. I came back and three of my kids who I picked up are biracial, they are half-Jamaican, and that’s when he decided to pull a [U-turn] and come follow me?” she questioned.
Kohl said OPP have not reached out to her to discuss the matter further as it before the courts, but she said she is fighting the ticket.
“I did file not guilty, I did send in the ticket to the local courthouse here in Simcoe, and I did have a couple of paralegals and people that are legal representatives who emailed me to represent me for free,” she said.
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