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Court upholds $5,750 fine for B.C. woman who refused COVID-19 test at border

A health-care worker administers a PCR COVID-19 test in an undated image. A health-care worker administers a PCR COVID-19 test in an undated image.

The B.C. Supreme Court has rejected a woman's bid to overturn a $5,750 fine she received after refusing to undergo a COVID-19 test at the border.

The court heard Nora Donahue declined the PCR test while crossing into Canada from the U.S. last September, which resulted in her being ticketed under the Quarantine Act.

"She believes that it was wrong for the government to require her to take a PCR test, and that the rules established pursuant to the Quarantine Act violated her constitutional rights," Justice H. William Veenstra wrote in his decision, which was posted online this week.

At the time Donahue was fined, travellers were required to provide proof of a negative PCR test before entering the country. Some who were tested still faced thousands of dollars in fines because they used the wrong kind of test

The court heard Donahue filed a dispute against her ticket in October 2021, but didn't attend the subsequent hearing in Surrey provincial court in January 2022, and that the fine was upheld.

Undeterred, she made another attempt to contest the ticket in April 2022, filing an application in provincial court in which she cited "lack of informed consent, personal health privacy violation, constitutional violation" as her defence. Donahue also argued she had been out of the country for months prior to her hearing and was never properly notified of the date.

That application was rejected.

Finally, Donahue brought the case to B.C. Supreme Court through a civil claim against the province's attorney general and the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. Part of ICBC’s role is to collect fines on behalf of the government.

The defendants argued Donahue's case amounted to a "collateral attack" on the decision of another court, something that could only appropriately be challenged by way of a judicial review.

Veenstra agreed and dismissed the claim.

"While an unfortunate result for the plaintiff, it seems clear that this is a classic case of an action making a collateral attack on a valid decision of a court with authority," he wrote.

The possibility of Donahue challenging the fine through a judicial review is "a matter for which she should seek advice from appropriate sources," Veenstra added.

The judge also ordered Donahue to pay the defendants' costs. Top Stories

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