Both sides of Manitoba-Ontario border feeling impact of travel restrictions

WINNIPEG — Vince and Laureen Rody, who live in West Saint Paul, have been slowly building a new home in Minaki, Ontario, meant to be their primary residence after retiring.

But now, with new restrictions put in place by the Ontario government blocking nonessential travel into the province, the couple isn’t sure when they’ll get to finish building their future home.

“It’s just another roadblock that’s popped up in front of us,” said Vince Rody. “It’s a struggle.”

The interprovincial travel restrictions, which came into effect at 12:01 AM on Monday, are being enforced by Ontario Provincial Police, with a checkpoint set up by the Manitoba-Ontario border.

Exceptions are being made, such as if you work or live in Ontario.

The Rody’s are planning to make their future Ontario home their primary residence but now they’re not sure when that can happen.

“Do they make an exception for us? I don’t know,” said Vince Rody, who was unable to get in touch with an OPP officer when he called Monday morning.

The couple is also concerned about a large order of building materials for their new home they were going to pick up in Ontario worth about $7,000.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen to it if we can’t pick it up,” said Laureen Rody.

Not all cars are being stopped at the border. OPP Constable Jason Canfield, currently stationed at the border checkpoint, says transport trucks are freely driving into Ontario.

Canfield says about two hundred people were allowed through, many of them who work in Kenora, while only a handful of cars were turned away.

“In Ontario, we’re all being hurt by not going to Manitoba as well, so it’s kind of a two-way street,” said Canfield. “If you’re just coming for pleasure and stuff just hold off until the COVID numbers come down.”

In Kenora, some business owners are concerned about the economic impacts of the interprovincial travel restrictions, especially if they’re still in place come summer.

“If we’re not open in the summer, I don’t know what is going to happen,” said Pam Viinikka, who runs two restaurants in Kenora. “I’m afraid for people and I’m afraid for people’s spirits.”

Viinikka says many businesses in Kenora make most of their money in the summer months and a lot of their clients are Manitobans.

“We’ve had people from Toronto in town, nobody is slashing their tires or screaming and yelling at them,” said Viinikka. “They pose more risk statistically than people from Winnipeg would.”

Currently, anyone from Ontario coming into Manitoba needs to self-isolate for two weeks.

Premier Brian Pallister said the province isn’t planning on taking any further steps to curb inter-provincial travel.

“We want to make sure we continue to take the necessary measures to protect Manitobans,” said Pallister. “Right now, keeping Ontarians from northwest Ontario out of Manitoba isn’t on the top of the list.”  

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