People wearing protective equipment check in at the international departures at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, December 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

People wearing protective equipment check in at the international departures at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, December 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Liberals say testing rules for air travellers land Jan.7, urge people to prepare

Travellers who receive a negative test result must still complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine

Anyone arriving in Canada starting Jan. 7 will need to have a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight, the federal government said Thursday as the Liberals urged vacationers abroad to prepare.

Flyers aged five and up will need have a negative PCR test within 72 hours of their scheduled departure and must show the results to their airline before they board their flight.

Travellers who receive a negative test result must still complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine upon their arrival in Canada.

Either before or upon arrival, travellers will have to provide a quarantine plan for federal officials to review. If officials aren’t satisfied, the government said people will be required to quarantine in a federal facility.

The statement that came hours before the start of 2021 said Canadians vacationing abroad should immediately start arranging for a COVID-19 test to avoid delays in coming home.

The details arrived one day after cabinet ministers decided that Canada would join other countries in making a negative PCR test a travel requirement. A PCR test is designed to detect minute amounts of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, usually through a swab up the nose or in the mouth.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau had been in contact with airlines on Wednesday as the high-level details rolled out. On Thursday, the government said the Jan. 7 start date was designed to provide airlines with enough time to comply with the new rules.

The National Airlines Council of Canada, which represents the country’s largest airlines, warned of major issues in Ottawa’s plans, including what options passengers have if their jurisdiction does not offer the kind of test the government accepts.

A trio of Opposition Conservatives critics said in statement that the Liberals were effectively making international airline workers with no ties to Canada act as screening agents, and causing more instability for Canadian airlines.

Health critic Michelle Rempel Garner, transport critic Stephanie Kusie and public services critic Pierre Paul-Hus also raised concerns about possible lags in getting test results and the ability of airline agents to prevent or recognize fraudulent test certificates.

“Choosing to use unverifiable test certificates issued abroad, as opposed to post-arrival screening conducted by Canadian authorities, is populist policy designed to quell new headlines and put airline workers out of a job, as opposed to delivering solid public health outcomes for Canadians,” part of their statement said.

The new federal testing requirement will only apply for air travellers, but Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet argued it should apply at all ports of entry. He also said the government should make sure that thousands of Canadians are reimbursed for travel plans that have been interrupted or cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

It is essential that Canadians also understand that personal sacrifices are key to helping end the pandemic, Blanchet said in a statement.

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said in a statement she was concerned some Canadians are still travelling for non-essential reasons despite advice to avoid doing so.

“I am asking Canadians to reassess any travel plans,” she said.

Some haven’t, including politicians who now find themselves in hot water.

Among them is Rod Phillips, who resigned as Ontario’s finance minister shortly after returning home Thursday morning from a two-week Caribbean vacation amid a provincewide lockdown.

In a video posted late Wednesday, Rempel Garner called Phillips’ decision dumb. Phillips used the same word hours later when he landed at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

Rempel Garner’s husband is in Oklahoma. In the video she talked about not being able to see him or her mother-in-law who has cancer, noting at one point, “Thanks, Rod. I don’t get to see my mother-in-law now because there’ll be a witch-hunt if I go see my family.”

In Saskatchewan, provincial Highways Minister Joe Hargrave apologized for travelling to Palm Springs, Calif., with his wife over the holidays. Although he called it an “essential” trip because he was selling a home there, Hargrave said it was a mistake to travel while so many others are making sacrifices during the pandemic.

As the clock ticked down on a year marked by the pandemic, case numbers continued to rise.

Ontario reported 3,328 new cases, a daily record, and 56 more deaths linked to the virus, matching the highest death toll from the first wave. Quebec also set a daily record with 2,819 new cases and 62 deaths.

Tam said several people have tested positive in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec with the novel coronavirus variant identified in the U.K.

She expected that other variants of concern will likely be found in Canada as monitoring continues.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tofino expects to elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6. (Westerly file photo)
Nomination period begins for Tofino byelection

Tofino is set to replace former mayor Josie Osborne, who is now the Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA.

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Quebec’s BEI completes investigation into Chantel Moore’s fatal shooting by Edmundston police officer

New Brunswick’s public prosecutions services and chief coroner to conduct public hearing

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is reminding visitors that all dogs must be leashed at all times. (Westerly file photo)
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve urges dog owners to show respect by leashing their pets

“As Coastal Stewards, we appreciate seeing you with your pets on leashes.”

West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni received some good news about an expansion to its emergency department on Jan. 15, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
B.C. health ministry commits $6.25M to hospital expansion in Port Alberni

Plans for larger emergency department have been on hold since 2015

A Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation guardian took this photo of dozens of vehicles parked along a forest service road in the Kennedy watershed. (Submitted photo)
Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District looks at enforcement of illegal camping

ACRD currently does not have an existing bylaw service to tackle the issue

B.C. Representative for Children and Youth Jennifer Charlesworth (Black Press files)
B.C. watchdog says mentally ill children and youth retraumatized in hospital

The number of children held under the Mental Health Act has increased an alarming 162 per cent in past decade

A new video from NCCIH and BC Northern Health titled ‘Healing in Pandemic Times: Indigenous Peoples, Stigma and COVID-19’ was animated by Joanne Gervais. (Photo Provided By: NCCIH Archives)
VIDEO: Stigma against Indigenous people is a ‘social sickness’

A new short animated video is aiming to educate the public on the stigmatization

Nanaimo RCMP are investigating after a threat was made at Woodgrove Centre on Tuesday, Jan. 19. (News Bulletin file photo)
Threat directed at Nanaimo mall, RCMP investigating

Police have searched areas of Woodgrove Centre accessible to shoppers and have deemed it safe

A pinniped was attacked by an unseen predator off the shores of Dallas Road Monday night. (Courtesy of Steffani Cameron)
VIDEO: Seal hunting, not being hunted in video shot off Victoria waterfront

Victoria woman captures footage of pinniped activity off Dallas Road

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

The British Columbia Hotel Association (BCHA) sent out a sharply worded release late last week, in which it noted that the Tourism Industry Association of BC recently obtained a ‘legal opinion’ on the matter (Alex Passini photo)
Hotel associations push back against any potential ban on inter-provincial, non-essential travel restrictions

B.C. Premier John Horgan is seeking legal advice on banning non-essential travel

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
COVID rapid tests in long-term care key during vaccine rollout: B.C. care providers

‘Getting kits into the hands of care providers should be a top priority,’ says former Health Minister

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. turns to second doses of COVID-19 vaccine as supplies slow

Pfizer shipments down until February, to be made up in March

B.C.’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training announced funding to train community mental health workers at four B.C. post-secondary institutions. (Stock photo)
B.C. funding training of mental health workers at four post-secondary institutions

Provincial government says pandemic has intensified need for mental health supports

Most Read