Ottawa-Gatineau border checkpoints, vaccination clinics cost Ottawa police $1 million

OTTAWA — Police checkpoints at Ottawa-Gatineau border crossings and officers assigned to COVID-19 vaccination clinics have cost the Ottawa Police Service $1 million so far this year.

The second quarter financial status report for the Ottawa Police Services Board shows the service incurred $1 million in costs related to checkpoints at interprovincial crossings in April, May and June and the city of Ottawa’s vaccination clinics.

As part of the Stay at Home order issued in April, the Ontario government announced restrictions on non-essential travel into Ontario at interprovincial crossings. Police were expected to staff the checkpoints between Ottawa and Gatineau 24-hours a day, seven days a week. After two days, police shifted to setting up sporadic checkpoints at the bridges and ferry crossings, citing budgetary and staffing pressures.

The police checkpoints at the Ottawa-Gatineau crossings came down on June 16.

Mayor Jim Watson said in June that the sporadic checkpoints at interprovincial crossings cost the Ottawa Police Service $800,000.

The financial status report for the Ottawa Police Services Board only says police are incurring costs at vaccination clinics, but doesn’t provide any other details.

Staff say the Ontario government will cover the $1 million costs related to COVID-19 operations in Ottawa.

“The OPS has an agreement with the Solicitor General of Ontario that we will be reimbursed an estimated $1 million for incremental costs related to the interprovincial border enforcement due to the Stay at Home Order and the vaccination clinics.”

The Ottawa Police Service is projecting a balanced budget this year. A $12.6 million budget shortfall for revenues, COVID-19 expenditures and operation expenditures will be offset by a spending freeze, a no-travel order, a delay in hiring of growth-related positions and one-time revenue from the province.

Staff say there are four operation obligations causing pressures on the 2021 budget, including fleet maintenance and fuel costs. 

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