REGINA -- Saskatchewan MLAs are looking to crack down on organizers of anti-mask demonstrations and so-called freedom rallies through stiffer penalties.

“What we’ve seen so far is that these $2,800 tickets aren’t acting as a deterrence to organizers or people who are attending the protests,” said NDP justice critic Nicole Sarauer.

Typically, protest organizers have been handed the current maximum fine of $2,800 for violating public health orders. The government is proposing to increase the ticket to a maximum of $10,000. The NDP thinks that should only be the starting point.

“We think that the government should be making it very clear that these actions are not only unacceptable and dangerous and stupid,” said Sarauer.

The NDP wanted a specific fine for protest organizers but the government voted down the proposal on Saturday.

“We do have provisions to ensure that organizers are fined properly and we don’t think that we needed a special provision in the legislation to deal specifically with organizers,” said Justice Minister Gordon Wyant.

The government is moving quickly to address the protests and other health order violations. The new fines are expected to be approved by the legislature next week and could take effect in mid-May.