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B.C.’s pending travel ban sparks ‘disappointment and grave concerns’ from National Police Federation

The union representing RCMP officers across the province is expressing concerns about enforcing the looming restrictions on travel between health units.

National Police Federation (NPF) President Brian Sauvé says they wrote to Solicitor General Mike Farnworth yesterday (Wednesday), expressing “disappointment and grave concerns” about proposed police participation in enforcing a ban on non-essential travel outside of B.C.

Since the official announcement of these travel restrictions, Sauvé says the NPF has been “hearing loud and clear from a growing number of RCMP members.” He says members are asking the NFP to oppose this proposed order.

This comes after it was announced more rules are coming to help the province get a handle on the pandemic. The new restrictions, set to start tomorrow (Friday), will remain in effect until after the May long weekend.

Premier John Horgan says anyone caught travelling outside of their health authority without a legitimate reason could get pulled over and fined. He says this is strictly about travel, with no additional authority given to police.

“This will be a random audit to ensure people are following the guidelines. As I say, the vast majority of British Columbians are doing that right now,” says Horgan. “It’s for that small group of people that are not listening, are not paying attention, and putting their fellow members of the community at risk. That’s who we’re focusing on.”

However, Sauvé notes: “in addition to shouldering an already heavy and increasing workload, participating in enforcement ‘roadblocks’ puts even greater pressure on limited resources and puts our members at further risk of exposure and possible infection.”

“Equally important, we are continuing to enhance and build on our relationships with vulnerable and racialized communities, and the ambiguity and potentially negative impacts of these orders risk reversing this progress,” he says.

Sauvé’s now touching on similar measures announced by the Ontario government last week, adding: “that same day, Ontario police services took the unusual step of roundly rejecting that order.”

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