TORONTO — Toronto police say they will not be performing random stops of people or vehicles under Ontario’s enhanced public health measures, joining a number of other forces who will opt out of the new enforcement.
Ontario introduced sweeping new restrictions Friday in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the province’s third wave.
One of those measures includes more power for police where officers can legally stop individuals on the street and in vehicles and question their reasons for leaving their homes.
Solicitor General Sylvia Jones laid out the new rules yesterday saying that it is “imperative” that residents only travel outside their homes for “permitted purposes only.”
Those who will not comply will be issued a ticket under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Penalties for non-compliance are set at a minimum of $750, Jones said.
However, public health experts have questioned the measure and civil liberties advocates are warning that the move could lead to a rash of racial profiling.
In a tweet published Saturday morning, Toronto police said they would opt out of the new enforcement. Instead, they say they will “continue to engage and enforce equitably and effectively, recognizing always that we must inspire public trust.”
Interim Toronto police Chief James Ramer doubled down on the decision in a separate tweet saying, “Our officers will not be doing random stops of people or cars.”
Toronto police join a chorus of other services across the province who also say they will not be taking part in the enhanced measure.
In a news release issued Saturday, Peel Regional Police announced they would also not be taking part in the random stops. Chief Nishan Duraiappah said he recognizes the “concern” the measure brings to the community and assured residents that the force would not be conducting vehicle or individual stops.
Other measures announced Friday include more restrictions on outdoor gatherings and non-essential construction projects.
The province also extended its provincewide stay-at-home order by two weeks to curb the spread of infection.
Over the last two days, the province has logged record-breaking COVID-19 case counts largely driven by variants of the disease, according to public health officials.
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