OPP say enforcement remains ‘status quo’ despite changes to police powers

OTTAWA — Ontario Provincial Police say their operations did not change on Saturday after the Ontario government announced and then revised new police powers to enforce the provincial stay-at-home order.

In an email to CTV News Ottawa, OPP spokesperson Bill Dickson said the provincial police have been “status quo since prior to Friday’s announcement, with no changes in enforcement activity.”

The Ontario government announced Friday afternoon that police in the province would have the authority to stop anyone who is outdoors and demand their address and a reason why they were outside. Those who did not comply or who were found to be in contravention of the province’s stay-at-home order could face fines.

The OPP issued statements on social media and to the press about the new measures Friday night, stressing that under the updated orders, police had “the authority to ask individuals and motorists who are not at home their purpose for leaving home and to provide their home address.”

But Dickson said Sunday morning that the OPP “definitely maintained the status quo from prior to the announcement.”

The new powers given to police were broadly criticized and, by Saturday afternoon, the office of the solicitor general clarified the new measures to say that police would only be able to question people who are suspected of participating in an “organized public event or social gathering.”

The OPP said Friday it would be providing daily reports of charges laid under the new regulations on its social media channels. Dickson said he expects that to begin on Monday.

Several municipal police forces across the province, including the Ottawa Police Service, said Friday and Saturday that they would not be conducting “random” stops of pedestrians or drivers to enforce the stay-at-home order. The OPP’s jurisdiction includes provincial highways and many municipalities without their own police services.

Starting at 12:01 a.m. Monday, OPP will also be stationed at interprovincial crossings between Ontario and Quebec and Ontario and Manitoba. Anyone attempting to cross into Ontario will be refused entry if they do not have a valid reason. There are exceptions for work, medical care, transportation of goods and the exercising of Treaty rights for Indigenous persons. 

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