The Ottawa Police Service said in a statement Wednesday that police are working with the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa to investigate and address "child welfare concerns" at the ongoing trucker protest in the city's downtown area.
"Police have a role to play in observing any potential dangers and will report them immediately to CASO. In matters that involve a child or youth who is in the protest area, CASO will work closely with the OPS to respond to the concern," the statement read.
The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa is funded by the Ontario government and is empowered to seize children from families if necessary.
The statement built on comments OPS Deputy Chief Steve Bell made to reporters Tuesday.
According to the Ottawa Citizen, Bell said children could be at risk during a police operation to remove protesters. He also said the children faced risks including carbon monoxide poisoning and lack of sanitary facilities.
Bell added that OPS was "not at the stage of looking to do any sort of enforcement activity around that."
One protester became irate when told about the child welfare concerns. "The [police are] gonna come in here and do what to my kids?" he asked CBC journalist Joseph Tunney. "I have two teenagers here that're in my car. Are they in danger?"
A small sample of what it's like to be a journalist covering Ottawa right now. pic.twitter.com/UsvypVXM92
— Joseph Tunney (@TunneyTun) February 9, 2022
A convoy of truckers and other demonstrators protesting Canada's COVID-19 policies entered Ottawa on Jan. 29, blocking streets and using horns to disturb residents.
Per the Citizen, as of Tuesday police had "made 23 arrests, issued more than 1,300 tickets, and were conducting 79 criminal investigations in connection with the demonstration."