Ontario setting up checkpoints at Ottawa-Gatineau border

Ottawa police will begin setting up checkpoints at the five interprovincial crossings between Ottawa and Gatineau on Monday, as part of new COVID-19 restrictions announced by the Ontario government.

"My initial understanding is it's intended to be on a 24-7 basis and will carry on for several weeks," said Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly in a Friday evening media briefing.

"It will be a significant staffing challenge for us."

Premier Doug Ford announced new restrictions on interprovincial travel on Friday as Ontario looks to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

"To get ahead of the variants that are plaguing western Canada, beginning Monday we're setting up checkpoints at all interprovincial borders," said Ford.

"We'll be limiting access to border crossings between the provinces of Manitoba and Quebec, with exceptions of work, medical care and the transportation of goods."

Health Minister Christine Elliott said if individuals do not have a valid reason to enter Ontario, they will be denied entry into the province.

The checkpoints will be set up at the five interprovincial crossings between Ottawa and Gatineau, while Ontario Provincial Police will be required to set up checkpoints between Ontario and Quebec through eastern Ontario and Renfrew County.

Sloly said Ottawa police were holding briefings with Ontario government officials late Friday to understand the new restrictions for interprovincial travel. Police will also be speaking with Ontario Provincial Police and the RCMP, along with police counterparts in Gatineau.

Watson suggested travelling to the cottage will not be an essential reason to visit Gatineau for the next few weeks.

"These are legitimate reasons for travelling between Quebec and Ontario: Work, medical appointments and the transportation of goods. This is not the time to head to your cottage or to go for a hike in Gatineau Park," said Watson.

Quebec set up police checkpoints at interprovincial crossings between Ottawa and Gatineau from April 1, 2020 to May 17, 2020. Police checked more than 316,000 vehicles during the checkpoints, turning away just under five per cent of motorists. 

Watson was opposed to the police checkpoints set up in Gatineau last spring.

"I've never been a big fan of the checkpoint system. I spoke against it when the Quebec provincial police and Gatineau police were doing exactly what we're going to have to do starting this weekend," said Watson during a media briefing after Ontario announced the new restrictions. .

"At the end of the day, the province has that responsibility."

Watson spoke with Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud Jobin Friday afternoon to discuss the new border restrictions. Both mayors are urging their residents to avoid non-essential travel across the Ottawa River during Ontario's stay-at-home order and the curfew in the Outaouais.

Watson says he expects the Ontario government to pick up the tab for the Ottawa police resources.

"There's no doubt that Ottawa police will take the lead, but also my expectation is that the provincial government, because they're bringing forward this requirement, should be reimbursing the Ottawa Police Service.," said Watson Friday evening.

"So it should not be up to local taxpayers to fund a checkpoint at an interprovincial bridge."

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones told CTV News at Five that the Ontario government will cover additional costs incurred by the Ottawa Police Service for the checkpoints.

QUEBEC PLANS TIGHT CONTROLS ON ONTARIO BORDER

The Quebec government announced Friday evening it will also close its borders to non-essential travel across the Quebec-Ontario boundary.

"As of Monday, we will close our border with Ontario and ensure tight movement controls," said Genevieve Guilbault, Quebec's public safety measures.