Free-Range Kids

Canadian Mom Fined for Letting Grandparents Babysit Kids While She Went Grocery Shopping

"She was charged with violating the Reopening Ontario Act."


A mom who dropped her kids off at their grandparents' house so she wouldn't have to drag them into the grocery store during COVID-19 has been fined $880.

Natasha Kohl is a mom of four in Simcoe, Ontario (population 13,922). Last week—on her birthday—she left three of her kids with family members so she could go buy food. Even under Ontario's lockdown orders, parents are allowed to access childcare.

The National Post reports that when Kohl came back from her shopping trip, her kids were happily eating pizza with their cousins, uncle, and grandparents. Kohl joined them, then she and the kids headed home.

As she was driving away, a cop car turned on its lights and made Kohl pull over. The policeman informed her that there had been complaints about "high traffic" at the grandparents' house. He handed her a ticket for failing to comply with the Reopening Ontario Act.

A press release from the Ontario Provincial Police Norfolk County detachment said, "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."

Kohl assumes that some neighbor must have complained about either the kids running around, or the wild craziness of a couple of drop-offs and pick-ups. But since when are cops in the business of turning cranky neighbors' complaints into $880 fines?

While obtaining or providing childcare is allowed under Ontario's stay-at-home orders, Derek Rogers, media relations coordinator for the OPP's west region office, disputed that Kohl was charged for dropping off her kids at their grandparents' house.

"She was charged with violating the Reopening Ontario Act," he said.

Oh. That makes things so much clearer.

Look, we are in the middle of a pandemic. Kohl had to quit her job to take care of the kids. Now she's got no job, no legal way to drop her kids off at her in-laws, and a fine on top if it all. Making it harder for a normal mom to do normal things in an abnormal era isn't making anyone safer.

Kohl plans to fight the ticket in court. Thankfully, an attorney has offered to represent her for free.