Police in Ontario stripped of their new powers

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The pandemic restrictions imposed by Canada's most populous province immediately ran into opposition as police departments insisted they wouldn't use new powers to randomly stop pedestrians or motorists and health experts complained the rules focus on outdoor activities rather than more risky indoor settings.

"Moving forward, police will have the authority to require any individual who is not in a place of residence to, first, provide their objective for not being at home, and provide their home address", Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said, adding this also means motor vehicles can be randomly pulled over.

Instead, police will only be able to stop people who they have reason to believe are participating in a - quote - "organized public event or social gathering".

"We have made the deliberate decision to temporarily enhance police officer's authority for the duration of the stay-at-home order".

In a tweet published Saturday morning, Toronto police said they would opt out of the new enforcement.

"The restrictions will be strongly, strongly enforced because they must be.

We will be taking a deliberate and careful approach that emphasizes equity, legality, and efficacy in the application of these authorities with the specific and exclusive goal to support public health measures".

In a statement sent to Daily Hive on April 18, a spokesperson for the premier said he would be "exhausting every avenue" in his efforts to increase the province's supply of vaccines.

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The powers allow officers to stop anyone and ask where they live and why they aren't at home.

"I am very concerned about arbitrary stops of people by police at any time", Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a tweet.

Peel Regional Police also released a statement saying officers will not be doing random vehicle stops.

However, non-essential construction sites like shopping malls, hotels and office towers will be closed.

But the Golf is Calling movement suffered a major setback when Ontario premier Doug Ford pushed a new order into effect in the country's most populous province - one that closes golf courses and a number of other outdoor activities as of Saturday. Do not gather inside or outside with anyone who is not from your household.

Earlier on Friday, the Ontario Science Table, which includes the province's scientific and health experts, said vaccinations are not reaching people at high-risk fast enough to prevent the risky impact on Ontario communities and hospitals.

Ontarians took to social media after the measures were announced to express their concerns with the police powers, fearing it may intensify racial profiling in the province and exacerbate the COVID-19 crisis for those who are already disproportionately affected by the virus.

The OPP has also stated they will be stopping vehicles at border checkpoints in their jurisdiction, and enforcing the new limits prohibiting the use of outdoor recreational facilities and limiting outside gatherings to household members only.

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