Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault sought to clarify the government's message around the enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions, saying police won't be allowed to enter a private residence without consent or a warrant.
"I want to be clear on this: the inviolability of private homes is a very important right, fundamental in Quebec," Guilbault said at a news conference Wednesday in Quebec City.
Guilbault added, however, that if the epidemiological situation worsens "dramatically," the government would consider giving that power to police.
"It is not our intention," Guilbault said. "No one has a crystal ball."
The government is working on a plan that would give police the power to directly fine those who organize illegal private gatherings in their homes. But Guilbault reiterated that police would still need a warrant or consent to come inside.
Under the new authorization, police would issue the fines, instead of having the amount determined later by the Quebec Crown, the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales.
Guilbault asks all citizens to contact police immediately if they witness anyone breaking the rules.
Her statement comes after Dr. Horacio Arruda mentioned Tuesday that public health is in discussions with the ministries of Justice and Public Security about allowing police to entering residences. Arruda, the province's public health director, backtracked just a few minutes later, but the result was confusion.
Civil liberties advocates have expressed concern that giving more power to the police could cause more harm than good, especially for the province's more vulnerable communities.