Drastic drop in COVID infected international flights in May

Of note:

Transport Canada’s decision to ban passenger flights from India appears to have had an impact.

While numbers are always updated as new cases are diagnosed, data posted online by Health Canada as of Tuesday shows only 113 flights landing at Canadian airports last month carried passengers infected with COVID-19.

That’s compared to 288 flights counted in April — 66 of which were direct flights from India’s capital of Delhi.

Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra halted passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days as of April 22, as well as adding additional restrictions on travellers arriving from India via connecting flights — including requiring a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken at the last port of entry before entering Canada.

This all but halted passenger traffic from both countries, as laboratory tests that typically require 24 hours can’t be accommodated during airport stopovers usually only lasting a few hours.

As many travellers from India had been connecting through Middle Eastern airports like Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha, infected passengers on those flights likewise saw big drops — just four from the United Arab Emirates last month compared to 35 in April.

Initially meant to last 30 days, the flight ban was extended last month to June 22.

During the first part of the pandemic, India typically only saw a handful of infected flights landing at Canadian airports each month.

All that changed in mid-February with a spike of infected flights coinciding with that country’s devastating variant-fuelled second wave.

Pakistan, meanwhile, has never been a significant factor, with Health Canada only reporting five such flights in April.

The United States was Canada’s largest source of infected flights last month, seeing 23 planes land with at least one passenger testing COVID positive — that’s compared to 49 in April.

Paris and Doha, Qatar, tied for second place with 11, followed by 10 from Guatemala, eight each from Frankfurt and Panama, seven from Istanbul, six from Amsterdam and five from Mexico City.

Toronto saw the most arrivals last month with 49 compared to 167 in April; followed by Montreal with 43 versus 57 in April; 14 in Vancouver compared to 42 in April; and six landing in Calgary compared to 19 the month previous.

Top sources of international flights with COVID-19 infected passengers in May (April’s total in parentheses)

1. USA: 23 (49)
2. Doha: 11 (21)
3. Paris: 11 (16)
4. Guatemala: 10 (4)
5. Amsterdam: 6 (12)
6. Frankfurt: 8 (13)
7. Panama: 8 (4)
8. Istanbul: 7 (18)
9. Mexico City: 5 (5)
10. Kingston, Jamaica: 3 (8)

Source: Drastic drop in COVID infected international flights in May

‘Fortress Australia’: Why calls to open up borders are meeting resistance

Of note and the challenge of reopening:

Australia has been one of the world’s Covid success stories, where infection rates are near zero and life mostly goes on as normal.

That’s in large part thanks to the early move to shut its borders – a policy that has consistently been supported by the public.

But after a year in the cocoon, there is growing unease in the country over the so-called “Fortress Australia” policy.

Recent announcements declaring that Australia won’t open up until mid-2022 – meaning a two year-plus isolation – have amplified concerns.

Critics argue the extension of closed borders will cause long-lasting damage to the economy, young people and separated families. It also tarnishes Australia’s character as open and free, they say.

Calls for a clear plan to pull Australia back into the world are growing, as the country wrestles with an uncomfortable tension – balancing the safety of closed borders against what is lost by living in isolation.

“A Fortress Australia with the drawbridge pulled up indefinitely is not where we want to be,” says former Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane.

“Australia is at its best when it’s open and confident – not fearful and insular.”

Locking the gate

In March 2020, the government closed the borders. It barred most foreigners from entering the country and put caps on total arrivals to combat Covid. Mandatory 14-day quarantine and snap lockdowns have also been used to control the virus spread.

The measures are extreme, and among the strictest in the world.

But they’ve worked. Australia regularly sees months without a single case in the community, and it has recorded fewer than 1,000 deaths in the pandemic.

Given that, the strict border controls have proven tremendously popular. Public polls regularly report 75-80% approval ratings for keeping the door shut.

Even higher numbers – around 90% – approve overall of the government’s pandemic handling, and trust in government has increased in contrast to views of voters in some Covid-ravaged nations.

Languishing behind

But the government now also faces mounting pressure over how it plans to handle the next phase of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison – who faces an election next year – has announced Australia won’t re-open borders until mid-2022. The exact timing and just how that will happen are unclear.

But the budget announcement was a shock extension to previous forecasts of an opening-up to occur slowly at the end of this year.

The main reason for the delay is vaccination.

Australia’s immunisation programme has been beset with delays, and lags well behind other developed nations such as the UK and US.

Critics say complacency over the low virus circulation delayed its kick-off. And now rising hesitancy – fuelled at least in part by Australia’s isolation – has also slowed the vaccine rollout.

Facing those failures, the government fell back on the border ban as a resort, critics say.

That’s dealing a heavy blow to sectors like tourism and higher education. Australia’s strong migration programme – relied on to address skills shortages and population growth – has also been cut almost completely.

Ernst and Young, an accounting firm, estimates that Australia’s economy is losing A$7.6bn (£4.18; $5.9bn) a month from the closed borders.

So a group of experts from the University of Sydney have called for an exit plan to be put in place. People need to know their options and prepare for the future, they say.

Their “roadmap to re-opening” focuses on prioritising vaccination, expanding quarantine and starting trials to bring in people for affected industries.

They point to successful examples like the New Zealand travel bubble, and the Australian Open tennis tournament.

“This is the case when measured in hard dollar terms, but also when measured against less tangible factors such as fuelling a negative and inwards-focused national psyche that threatens our global standing, as well as national unity and cohesion.”

‘Us and them’ mentality

Others have also voiced their concerns over how an extended retreat from the world could damage Australia’s character.

When Australia was parochial it had a White Australia policy (1900s-1970s), which restricted immigration from non-European nations. Multiculturalism has replaced that policy in recent decades, but the ideal is still fragile, experts warn.

Dr Liz Allen, a demographer at the Australian National University, contends that Covid has already made the nation more “protectionist and insular”.

Government policies have created an “us and them” division, she argues.

The hostile treatment of migrants is a clear example, she says. Australia’s conservative government of eight years has never advocated for immigration – the coalition won the 2019 election pledging to “slash” the migrant intake.

At the start of the pandemic, Mr Morrison told the nation’s two million migrants on temporary visas to “go home”.

Those visa holders – often doing the low-paid, essential jobs of cleaning and food delivery – were also ineligible for the government’s pandemic welfare support, leaving many facing destitution.

The border ban has also sown community division, seen in its most extreme form last month when Australia took the world-first step of threatening jail for citizens who returned home from Covid-ravaged India. The Indian-Australian community expressed outrage they were being treated like second-class citizens.

Multicultural roots

The issue of stranded Australians reflects Australia’s character as an intensely multicultural nation.

Nearly 30% of the population were born overseas, and another quarter have a parent who was. As a nation of migrants, so many Australians have deep personal ties to other parts of the world.

Prior to Covid, about one million Australians were estimated to be living and working overseas. A section of the population – often highly educated and skilled – was also very mobile.

But the closed-border policy doesn’t appear to recognise these global connections or the disproportionate impact on first and second-generation Australians, critics say.

In addition, the borders created a narrative where blame for a virus outbreak was often laid at the feet of returning individuals.

“We turned on ourselves, on our own people,” says Dr Allen.

Political leaders described the virus as “imported” by returning travellers, rather than escaping through failures in the hotel quarantine system. Such rhetoric egged on social media commentary blaming incoming Australians.

Just happy to be safe

But while there’s division aimed at Australians outside the country, within the borders people feel comfortable with their lot.

First and foremost, people say they feel relieved and grateful to be shielded from the virus.

“There’s a lot of sympathy and real feeling for people caught up outside, and for the people who can’t go to weddings and funerals overseas,” says Melissa Monteiro, head of a migrant resource community centre in western Sydney.

“But you know, everyone ends with ‘that’s just how it is’. People are firstly, just grateful to be in this country and to be safe.”

Race relations researcher Andrew Markus, an emeritus professor at the University of Monash, says most Australians also don’t view the closed borders as a cultural isolation, or a “shutting yourself off from the world”.

Instead it’s just seen as a necessary short-term health measure – an attitude adopted across the political and cultural spectrum, he says.

He notes too that polling throughout the pandemic showed Australians’ support for multiculturalism and globalisation remained strong – about 80% approval – despite concerns about social cohesion and a rise in hate crimes against Asian-Australians.

Dr Allen says that the strong support for the government’s Covid fight is understandable – particularly when it has worked.

But she also says that the Australian public has been presented with no other options. The prolonged border closure and city lockdowns on single infections have all been largely uncontested policies.

She says it’s time now for Australia to move past such policies which she feels are rooted in fear. The country continues to face calls to bring back its own citizens.

“I don’t think it’s bad that people are afraid of Covid – we should be afraid. But we require leadership going forwards that doesn’t leave people behind.”

Source: ‘Fortress Australia’: Why calls to open up borders are meeting resistance

After Australia Banned Its Citizens in India From Coming Home, Many Ask: Who Is Really Australian?

Valid questioning:

When Ara Sharma Marar’s father had a stroke in India in early April, she got on the first flight she could from her home in Melbourne, Australia to New Delhi.

She had planned to return to Australia, where she works in risk management at a bank, on May 14. But then her government banned her from coming home. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on April 27 that travelers from India—including citizens—were barred from the country. The government emphasized that anyone who tried to come home would face up to five years in jail and a $50,000 fine.

“It’s immoral, unjustifiable and completely un-Australian because, you know, Australia prides itself saying that we are multicultural, we embrace all cultures, we welcome everyone,” she says.

Morrison faced a furious backlash from many corners from the country—especially from Australians of South Asian ethnicity, many of whom said the ban was racist—and quickly backed down. On May 15 the first repatriation flight from India landed in Darwin. But around 9,000 Australians remain stranded in India and the saga has revived the debate about what it means to be Australian—a longstanding, at times acrimonious, national conversation driven by the country’s ever-changing demographics.

Today, there are more foreign-born Australians than at any time since 1893, when Australia was still a British colony. Migrants make up 30% of all Australians, and Indian-born Australians are the second-largest group. (British immigrants remain the largest foreign-born population, with people from China in third place). Immigration is now the main driver of population growth in several states and migrants are a significant driver of economic growth. But some immigrants say they aren’t always accepted in a country that once closed its doors to non-Europeans.

“Many Anglo-Celtic Australians still believe that we are but guests in this country and that to acknowledge us as equals they will somehow lose their Australianism,” says Molina Asthana, co-founder of advocacy group Asian Australian Alliance. “Does being Australian mean you have to be light skinned, blond, love your barbies, brekkies and beers?” she asks.

‘Fortress Australia’ strands citizens overseas

Several countries, including the U.S., restricted flights from India or tightened quarantine rules on travelers coming from the country as a devastating second wave hit it. But Australia’s total ban on arrivals from India follows a pandemic policy of imposing of some of the strictest COVID-19 border controls in the world.

Australia bans nearly all non-residents from traveling to the country, and those who are able to enter must quarantine for 14 days in a hotel. Caps on international arrivals have prevented tens of thousands of Australians from returning from overseas during the pandemic. The hashtag #strandedaussies has been used hundreds of times on social media, and some have started referring to the country as “Fortress Australia.” One group of Australians is taking a complaint against the Australian government to the United Nations Human Rights Committee for not allowing its citizens to return home.

Nevertheless, the controls are very popular. A poll in conservative newspaper The Australian found that 73% of voters supported international borders remaining closed until at least mid-2022. That’s likely because the policies—along with swift, strict lockdowns when cases pop up—mean that the country has had remarkable success against COVID-19. With a population of 26 million, it has recorded fewer than than 30,000 coronavirus cases and just 910 deaths. Life appears normal. Employees have returned to their offices. Thousands of mostly maskless fans packed into a Melbourne stadium to watch the Australian Open in February and the following month saw tens of thousands of not-so-socially-distanced revelers attend the LGBT+ celebration Sydney Mardi Gras.

Authorities justified the blanket ban on arrivals from India as necessary to protect public health; India is facing a devastating second wave of COVID-19 and a variant first identified there—which scientists say is likely more infectious and better at evading human immune systems—is being detected across the Asia-Pacific. Australia’s chief medical officer Paul Kelly said on May 7 that the ban was explicitly linked to Australia’s limited quarantine capacity.

But many Australians of Indian descent feel singled out because the Australian government has not barred citizens returning home from other countries with large outbreaks. “Why weren’t these steps taken when it was America or U.K.?” asks Sharma Marar, who believes that the government has failed all of its nationals stuck overseas. She says that she is suffering from panic attacks and having trouble sleeping as the result of the stress of not being able to return home.

Kim Soans-Sharma, who remains stuck in Mumbai, India after she traveled there in January following her father’s death, says the ban has made her feel “unwanted.” That’s something she has never felt in Perth, Australia, which she’s called home since 2013. She adds that vitriolic comments from some Australians on social media showing no sympathy for other citizens like her stuck in India have been hard to bear.

“At this stage, I’m not proud to call myself an Australian,” she says.

How Australia became an ‘immigration nation’

Australia’s rising diversity in recent decades follows the expressly racist White Australia Policy that prevented migration by non-Europeans for much of the 20th century. When it became clear that immigration from Britain couldn’t provide the necessary population growth, more migrants from continental Europe were allowed, and the policy was slowly eased after World War II. The first step towards dismantling it was made in 1966, when the government allowed migration based on what skills people could offer Australia, instead of race or nationality. The White Australia Policy was then formally renounced in the early 1970s, and the government officially embraced multiculturalism.

However, the topic of immigration has been used as a political football for decades, with some successive governments unsupportive of migration. Many who arrive in Australia are skilled migrants, and some economists say that the country’s 27-year recession-free streak would not have been possible without immigration. A report by the research institute the McKell Institute calls the country “the world’s most successful” multicultural society. “Australia has truly embraced multiculturalism following an approach of integration between the different ethnicities and cultural groups where the dominant and minority groups are expected to respect each other’s cultures,” it says.

There are some tensions, however. Concerns over immigration have sparked a nativist movement, including a right-wing populist political party with an anti-immigration platform that has had minor success at the polls. A 2020 report on social cohesion released by the Scanlon Foundation, a foundation focused on fostering social cohesion in Australia, found that a large majority of Australians think that having a multicultural society makes Australia better, but 60% of people agreed with the statement that “too many immigrants are not adopting Australian values.” The report also noted substantial negative sentiment towards immigrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

In one 2019 survey, more than two-thirds said that Australia did not need more people. The same year, Morrison announced a cap on permanent migration at 160,000, a cut of 30,000 a year, to address crowding in cities that has increased real estate prices and caused congestion. “This plan is about protecting the quality of life of Australians right across our country,” he said.

Like in many places in the world, immigrants in Australia have faced racism as the result of the pandemic. The Asian Australian Alliance has received 530 reports of COVID-19-related racism since April 2020. When a COVID-19 surge hit Melbourne in mid-2020, representatives from a Muslim migrant community spoke out about being unfairly blamed. In March, Australia’s race discrimination commissioner Chin Tan called for a new national anti-racism framework to address prejudice against Asian-Australians related to the coronavirus pandemic and the legacy of “hatred” towards Muslims.

Asthana, of the Asian Australian Alliance, says the India travel ban is emblematic of the racism that migrants can face in Australia. “Whether it is overt racism or unconscious bias, most migrants have been at the receiving end of discriminatory treatment,” she says. “Only the communities change over time, from Greek and Italian to Chinese, then the Vietnamese, Indian and African and now back to the wider Asian Community during COVID.”

Tim Soutphommasane, Australia’s former race discrimination commissioner, says that Australia’s multicultural diversity is not represented yet in its major institutions. “It’s not yet there among our leaders of politics, government, and business. Nor is it there among the faces you see in the national media,” he says. “So that can feed into a sense within our elite political, business and media circles that being Australian is still essentially being Anglo-Celtic or European.”

Other experts say that what it means to be Australian is shifting along with its demographics. “Australia is a settler country,” says Catherine Gomes, an ethnographer at RMIT University in Australia, with a “social and cultural identity, that keeps on changing. Those identities start to adapt, according to how demographics are also changing.”

But for some Australians, those changes aren’t coming quickly enough. Despite the lifting of the ban, Sharma Marar says she won’t forget being barred from coming home.

“I think the scars of these policies and what has been done in last few weeks,” she says, “will live with us forever.”

Source: After Australia Banned Its Citizens in India From Coming Home, Many Ask: Who Is Really Australian?

The polite xenophobia compelling Canada’s ever tighter travel restrictions

Don’t really get the arguments. Travel restrictions apply generally to all Canadians, and hard to see how any particular group is more affected than others pending data proving the contrary.

And arguably, visible minorities with family members abroad may be more affected, many non-visible minorities also have family members abroad (we haven’t been able to see our son in Germany for over a year).

And if one is going to criticize flight cancellations to Mexico and the Caribbean on the grounds that Canadians with Mexican or Caribbean connections will be unduly affected, one needs to base this assertion with data regarding sun vacation travel (the target of the government policy) and those visiting family.

The more serious issues pertain to the situation of front-line service workers, many of whom are visible minorities and immigrants, not travel restrictions:

Some of the exceptions favour Canada prides itself as a compassionate leader in an otherwise hostile world. However, the country’s reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic exposes a unique brand of Canadian xenophobia.

Once Canada closed its borders to foreign travellers in March 2020, returning Canadians became required to quarantine or isolate at home for 14 days, unless exempt to perform “essential work.” As the first wave showed signs of decline in late June, the federal government expanded entry to family members of Canadians. Strict border measures seemed to have thwarted COVID.

Fast forward to December 2020: Canada is in the throes of a disastrous second wave, holiday beachgoers crowd Canadian airports, and new variants erupt around the world. Coincidentally, a majority of Canadians begin to support an international travel ban. Notoriously xenophobic Quebec Premier François Legault urged the federal government to cancel all “non-essential” inbound flights and require quarantine in hotels at the traveller’s expense. In Ontario, conservative Premier Doug Ford called for mandatory COVID testing of landed air travellers and heightened quarantine surveillance.

On Jan. 29, federal ministries announced sweeping measures to curb border crossing — notably, targeted flight cancellations and mandatory hotel quarantine with a price tag of at least $2,000. The renewed strategy also increases quarantine policing and promises to detain COVID-positive returnees in undisclosed government “isolation hotels.”

A recent Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) report revealed that, out of 8.6 million travellers into Canada since March 2020, only 26 per cent required quarantine; 6.3 million workers entered Canada with quarantine exemptions in 2020, says CBSA. While setting “leisure travellers” against “essential workers” oversimplifies various travel situations, COVID cases linked to all travel linger at 2 per cent of Canada’s case total.

Canadians have relied on migrant workers to maintain their “critical infrastructure” throughout the pandemic. Though Canadian corporations regularly exploit migrant workers, their situation only worsened under COVID, for example in Windsor-Essex, Ont. where exploitative labour practices exposed surrounding communities to COVID. Nevertheless, Canada’s COVID cases bottomed out during the peak of migrant work last summer.

The data points to travel’s low public health burden and the impossibility of completely closing borders. Tightening travel restrictions are not reasonable, but dangerous errors that distract from deadly domestic problems.

Behind travel restrictions is a unique brand of Canadian xenophobia. During the pandemic, BIPOC (im)migrants and newcomers experience increasing hardship. COVID-related scapegoating and stereotyping — from microaggressions to federal policies — benefit privileged Canadians and affirm right-wing extremists while the rest of us suffer.

Source: The polite xenophobia compelling Canada’s ever tighter travel restrictions

Americans, Go Home: Canadians Track U.S. Boaters Sneaking Across The Border

Ironic reversal of travel restrictions and related requirements, with Americans being for likely the first time being the ones targeted and thus some of them resorting to irregular or illegal transit:

Canadians are typically seen as pretty friendly people, and until the coronavirus pandemic, most were happy to welcome Americans.

But when the coronavirus began to quickly spread in March, the U.S. and Canada shut their shared border to all nonessential traffic.

Since then, Canada’s border patrol has effectively prevented caravans of Americans — and their RVs and their campers — from surging across the border as they normally do each summer.

But Americans can be crafty.

Some have managed to enter Canada by telling border patrol officers that they are on their way to Alaska. This is known as the “Alaska loophole.”

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police fined several Americans who were hiking near Lake Louise in Alberta. Lake Louise is not on the way to Alaska.

Fed up, Canada announced last week that it is cracking down on Americans who apparently don’t know which way is north.

The Americans are coming, the Americans are coming

Foreigners are also arriving by boat, often on sailboats and luxury yachts. Many seek refuge in British Columbia’s protected inland waters and marine parks, which are home to pods of killer whales and abundant wildlife.

But the number of American pleasure craft arriving from Washington state has alarmed Canadians living just across the border.

For George Creek, a former insurance agent, whose home overlooks Nanaimo Harbor in British Columbia, it has been a call to action.

“A number of us that are retired boaters and still members of the Council of BC Yacht Clubs started looking at the number of American boats that were crossing our border, in spite of the prohibition by the federal government,” says Creek, president of BC Marine Parks Forever.

And they can do so from their living rooms.

Under international maritime law, every passenger boat must be equipped with an automatic identification system that is to remain on at all times. This allows for tracking boats in real time and helps prevent collisions in fog and bad weather.

Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can click to see what kind of vessels are sailing, where they’ve recently been and which country they are from.

And plenty are from the United States.

Creek estimates that right now some 30 to 40 American pleasure boats are cruising through British Columbia’s pristine waterways.

Lately, however, many have gone dark. Creek says that the Americans have figured out that they are being tracked through their transponders.

“They’re turning them off as they cross the border,” says Creek. “We see them on the computer, and at a particular point a few minutes later, they’re not there anymore.”

The maritime posse of retirees knows the boats didn’t suddenly turn around, or sink. That’s because Canadian boaters up and down the inland coast call and radio in the location of suspicious vessels, i.e., American boats. They report sightings to the RCMP’s marine division, though it’s unclear if any arrests have been made.

“The biggest petri dish in the world”

American yachts sneaking across the border makes Creek, and a lot of other Canadians, angry.

There is widespread alarm at how fast the coronavirus has spread through the Lower 48 and what many Canadians view as Americans’ flagrant disregard for mask wearing and maintaining a safe social distance.

A poll conducted by Nanos Research found that eight in 10 Canadians want the border to remain closed to nonessential U.S. traffic because of fears of the coronavirus.

“When I called the U.S. the biggest petri dish in the world, that was not just off the cuff,” says Creek.

Creek is particularly concerned about the tiny isolated communities, such as Refuge Cove on Desolation Sound, where boaters stop for fuel and food. Many are home to First Nations people and have no medical facilities.

Canadian boaters recently got riled up after a large yacht from the U.S. stopped at one of the small outposts for supplies.

“They wandered the dock,” says Creek bitterly. “Three or four adults and the rest were teenagers with no social distancing, no masks, and went through the store as if they were just shopping at Walmart.”

To boaters sneaking into Canada to enjoy its marine parks and secluded coves, George Creek wants you to know: You are being watched.

Source: Americans, Go Home: Canadians Track U.S. Boaters Sneaking Across The Border

Canadians with foreign national spouses face obstacles at border

Seems a bit pig-headed and contrary to the intent of the measures:

When Canada closed its border mid-March due to the pandemic, John Alan Aucoin and other Canadians were unequivocally assured their spouses from abroad would be allowed into the country despite the travel bans.

Little did they know it would come with a catch. Canada Border Services Agency actually had its own rules when applying the government order.

Aucoin didn’t expect his American wife, Adrienne Berg Yorinks, to have trouble coming home to Cape Breton. The couple’s only concern returning from Florida was being able to drive through Maine and New York with those states in lockdown.

But like many foreigner nationals married to Canadians but yet to become permanent residents, Yorinks was refused entry at the border. The couple have been separated for weeks now, one in Florida, the other in Nova Scotia, not knowing when the border will reopen.

“Adrienne was not on a shopping trip. It was not an optional travel. She’s travelling to our primary home with me, a Canadian,” said Aucoin, who met his now wife in 2014. They wed in 2018.

“The fact is Canadian families are being separated notwithstanding of our prime minister’s assertions.”

On March 16, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the border would be closed to non-Canadians, he made exceptions for immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. The travel ban, as stated in the government’s orders, was to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

However, since April, a growing number of foreign spouses and children of Canadians have been refused admission into Canada because their travels are deemed “non-essential and optional” by Canadian border agents at airports and land border crossings, said lawyers.

“The Order-in-Council is very clear that immediate family members of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident are exempted from the travel restrictions,” said Barbara Jo Caruso, a former chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s immigration division.

“It appeared the border was open for a period of time, and then they started tightening it in early April. And now nobody gets in except if (the travel) is of essential nature.”

On Good Friday, after being on the road for hours driving back from Juno Beach, Fla., Aucoin, a retired lawyer, and Yorinks, an artist and author, arrived at the border crossing between Calais, Maine and Saint Stephen, N.B. at 5:30 a.m. A border agent refused to let Yorinks in because her travel was deemed non-essential.

When the couple returned to the United States border entry, American officials refused to let Aucoin in because Washington’s COVID-19 travel ban doesn’t have provisions to exempt foreign spouses accompanying Americans.

“It’s been a roller-coaster for us, and we have tried to keep our spirits up,” said Aucoin, who had consulted a lawyer, obtained a notarized statement from the Justice of Peace who married them in Cape Breton and drafted a quarantine plan upon arrival. Yorinks ended up having to drive home to their winter home in Florida by herself.

Immigration lawyer Rafeena Rashid, who used to represent the federal Justice Department and now has her own practice, said her clients — a British and Canadian couple — boarded a government repatriation flight to Toronto Pearson airport April 13 after Global Affairs Canada cleared them.

However, the border agency seized the British husband’s passport and sent him back to the U.K. the next day. The couple are still separated.

“It is very clear that one thing is said to the public while something else is done behind the scenes by CBSA,” said Rashid. “CBSA absolutely has no oversight. Zero. Who’s CBSA to come up with its own criteria that’s not based on the law?”

In response to the Star’s inquiry, the border agency referred to a provision in the government’s COVID travel orders that says: A foreign national, including a Canadian’s immediate family member, is banned from entry if they seek to enter for an optional or discretionary purpose, such as tourism, recreation or entertainment.

However, an internal instruction for front-line border agents obtained by the Star revealed that Canada Border Services Agency actually has set criteria beyond that.

The guidelines include, among other criteria, a ban against a “foreign national coming to Canada to temporarily reside with spouse or immediate family during the pandemic.”

The immigration department last week also posted on its website examples of what are deemed discretionary: visit family on vacation; spend time at a secondary residence; attend a funeral; and birth of a grandchild.

What is not discretionary, it says, is for people to spend the pandemic period with their Canadian family member to ensure each other’s health, safety and well-being. “It would be beneficial to all parties, as the reunification of family members is a key point of the Order in Council,” it notes. “This allows for families to be together during this difficult time.”

Lawyers said the border agency’s own rules go against the spirit of the government order.

“There’s a consistent reference to essential travels, and they don’t see keeping a family together in crisis as essential,” said lawyer Erin Simpson, who has filed a court challenge against a border agency decision to deny one of her client’s entry to Canada.

Nadia Drost of Toronto said her Italian journalist husband, Bruno Federico, was denied entry at Pearson airport on April 22 and sent back to New York City, where he had travelled for an assignment for a documentary about COVID-19. The two had already booked an Airbnb for his 14-day quarantine.

“It’s wrong that border officers are following secret guidelines that are different from what the public is privy to,” said the 42-year-old Toronto woman, also a journalist. “We need oversight of CBSA in the way they interpret the government order. They’ve got to square up.”

Source: Canadians with foreign national spouses face obstacles at border

Is it constitutional to screen Canadians trying to board flights home?

These questions have been percolating for some time, with this legal perspective being an example of those arguing that it is not constitutional. The discussion by law professors Yves Le Bouthillier and Delphine Nakache is useful in setting out the constitutional test:

“1) that the measure is taken to address a pressing and substantial objective, 2) that the measure is rationally connected to the objective, 3) that the measure impairs as little as possible the right in question, 4) that the measure’s overall effects on the right protected is not disproportionate to the government’s objective.”

While they accept that the measures meet the first two tests, they argue it fails to meet the second two tests. It is highly unlikely that these measures will be challenged in court given that any judicial process would most likely take much longer than the temporary measures themselves.

Their arguments against over-reach are unconvincing during a pandemic, when perfect narrow screening at airports is impossible, whether by medical personnel or airline personnel. And of course, migration management is already carried out by airline personnel in the form of passport and visa checks. And more special flights, given the challenge the government is already facing in organizing a multitude of flights is simply not practical at this time.

Are these measures disproportionate? IMO, not so, given the nature of the pandemic, the number of cases, and the impact on healthcare and its capacity to handle COVID-19.

And while lawyers can argue that it is “the government’s message and actions should not leave behind any of its citizens,” the reality is that this is an impossible bar to meet. To the government’s credit, it has admitted that not all will be able to return to help manage expectations while at the same time organizing many flights for returning Canadians and permanent residents.

Part of my reaction to this commentary reflects my living with cancer for over 10 years, in and out of treatment, with the compromised immunity as one of the side effects and being at higher risk of COVID-19. The fact that the Ottawa Hospital experienced a case in the same ward where I received my stem cell transplants drives home the point even more for me. So I tend to accept legalistic arguments less than those of medical professionals that reduce, albeit imperfectly, risk:

As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has, unfortunately, adopted a measure that denies the right of some Canadian citizens to enter the country, a right guaranteed by s. 6 (1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

On Monday, March 16, the Canadian government asked air carriers to take measures to prevent all travellers abroad who present symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 to board planes flying to Canada. These measures apply to everyone attempting to come back to Canada, including the more than 3 million Canadian citizens abroad at any given time.

To enforce this new policy, the Minister of Transport, on March 17, issued an interim order under the Aeronautics Act saying that air carriers “must conduct” a health check and prohibiting the carriers from allowing a person who has suspected signs or symptoms of COVID-19 to board. In conducting the health check, the carrier must rely on questions from a World Health Organization (WHO) document that offers guidance for the management of ill travellers at points of entry.

However, here, the government is requiring air carriers to ask those questions before the plane departs from a foreign country.

The interim order came into force at 12:01 a.m. on March 19. Since then, two new updated versions of the order have been adopted (on March 20 and 24). The most recent version no longer refers to the WHO’s document.

Persons prohibited from boarding cannot get on an aircraft for at least 14 days unless they have a medical certificate stipulating that their symptoms are not related to COVID-19. Presumably, they could be refused again if they still have the symptoms. Moreover, the risk is that 14 days later, they can no longer leave a country either because there are no flights available or because that country has closed its borders.

Section 6 (1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides that “Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in, and leave Canada.” Since March 19, citizens refused boarding at the request of the federal government can no longer effectively exercise this right. S. 6 is one of the few provisions in the Charter that the Parliament or the provincial legislatures cannot derogate from by using the notwithstanding clause provided by s. 33 of the Charter. However, the government can justify limits to Charter-protected rights in accordance with s. 1 of the Charter if these limits can “be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

Before looking further into the constitutionality of this interim order, it is worth examining other laws that address the type of situation we are confronted with to fully appreciate how extraordinary this measure is.

First, a ban on Canadians from returning to their country was not expressly contemplated by Parliament when it adopted the Emergencies Act in 1988. That Act provides for four types of emergency. The one applicable to the COVID-19 situation would be the “Public Welfare Emergency,” which authorizes only “regulation or prohibition of travel to, from or within any specified areas” in Canada for everyone: Canadian citizens, permanent residents or foreigners. Even a declaration of “International Emergency” (another of the four types of emergencies under the Act) to address a real or imminent use of serious force or violence, does not allow the government to refuse entry to Canadian citizens. For an international emergency, the government can regulate or prohibit “travel outside Canada by Canadian citizens or permanent residents and of admission into Canada of other persons.”

As for the Quarantine Act, adopted in 2005, one of its provisions grants the power to the Governor in Council to prohibit for a specified period of time “the entry into Canada of any class of persons who have been in a foreign country.” However, this kind of measure can only be taken if “no reasonable alternatives to prevent the introduction or spread of the disease are available,” a question addressed below.

To respond to the COVID-19 emergency, the government, on the recommendation of the Health Minister, adopted the Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order on March 18 (since updated with a new order on March 26). It is worth noting that the prohibition to enter Canada in both the March 18 and 26 orders are directed only at foreigners, not Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Turning back to the constitutionality of the interim order, the government can justify it under s.1 of the Charter. However, to do so, the government has the burden to establish 1) that the measure is taken to address a pressing and substantial objective, 2) that the measure is rationally connected to the objective, 3) that the measure impairs as little as possible the right in question, 4) that the measure’s overall effects on the right protected is not disproportionate to the government’s objective.

There is little doubt that the Canadian government could meet the first two hurdles under section 1. The objective to protect the health of the Canadian population is pressing and urgent, and the measure, to ban travellers exhibiting signs or symptoms of COVID-19, is rationally linked to this objective. However, it is questionable that it could meet the other two conditions.

This measure does not impair the right in question as little as possible as it both overreaches and underreaches. It targets Canadian citizens exhibiting symptoms that could be indicative of COVID-19 but are also associated with many other conditions such as other types of infectious pulmonary diseases, non-infectious pulmonary diseases, a common cold, or flu. The Canadian government is asking for an assessment to be made by airlines representatives, who are not medically trained to conduct these kinds of assessments. As such, they could very well deny boarding to Canadian citizens who are not COVID-19 positive and accept on board some Canadian citizens who could be COVID-19 positive but are asymptomatic. Moreover, this measure also has the perverse effect of leading some travellers to hide their condition out of fear of being refused boarding, as has been reported by the media. Finally, critics claim that the transfer of migration management to private carriers increases risks of arbitrariness and discriminatory practices (racial profiling).

Apart from the fact that these citizens would need care if they were indeed COVID-19 positive, many of them could suffer from other conditions that would require continued access to medical care and medications, which is not a given for anyone suddenly forced to remain in another country.

There are alternatives that would allow for the repatriation of all Canadian citizens: on regular flights, airlines could isolate the few citizens exhibiting symptoms, or special flights could be arranged to repatriate these citizens. These alternatives could be costly and take some time to implement, but that in itself should not be sufficient to justify infringing fundamental rights.

As for whether the effects on the right protected are disproportionate to the government’s objective, this measure is preventing vulnerable Canadian citizens from getting back to their country.  Apart from the fact that these citizens would need care if they were indeed COVID-19 positive, many of them could suffer from other conditions that would require continued access to medical care and medications. That access is not a given for anyone suddenly forced to remain in another country, especially if this other country is or will soon be facing a crisis in its health sector. How can a measure that affects directly the most vulnerable, and that risks excluding from boarding some citizens who are not COVID-19 positive while allowing others who are, be proportionate?

Of course, in such unprecedented times, we recognize that there is no easy solution for the many Canadians abroad who want to come home. The Canadian government has acted in recent days to bring back citizens, permanent residents and members of their immediate family stranded abroad. After starting with Morocco, it has expanded this operation to several other countries with flights having taken place (or being planned for) in countries such as Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Peru and Spain. This is welcome news.

However, Canadian citizens who have suspected symptoms of COVID-19 can still be refused boarding. In our view, the government has an obligation not to create hurdles for the return of all its citizens. The Prime Minister has rightfully urged Canadians: “If you are abroad, it is time for you to come home.” To be consistent with the Canadian Charter, the government’s message and actions should not leave behind any of its citizens.

Source: Is it constitutional to screen Canadians trying to board flights home?

Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from the United States)

Latest version for those interested.

PC Number: 2020-0184

Date: 2020-03-26

Whereas the Governor in Council is of the opinion that

(a) based on the declaration of a pandemic by the World Health Organization, there is an outbreak of a communicable disease, namely coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), in the majority of foreign countries;

(b) the introduction or spread of the disease would pose an imminent and severe risk to public health in Canada;

(c) the entry of persons into Canada who have recently been in a foreign country may introduce or contribute to the spread of the disease in Canada; and

(d) no reasonable alternatives to prevent the introduction or spread of the disease are available;

Therefore, Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Health, pursuant to section 58 of the Quarantine Act, makes the annexed Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from any Country other than the United States).

Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from any Country other than the United States)

Definition of immediate family member  

1 In this Order, immediate family member, in respect of a person means

(a) the spouse or common-law partner of the person;

(b) a dependent child, as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner;

(c) a dependent child, as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, of a dependent child referred to in paragraph (b);

(d) the parent or step-parent of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner; or

(e) the guardian or tutor of the person.


2 Any foreign national, as defined in subsection 2‍(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, is prohibited from entering Canada if they arrive from a foreign country other than the United States.


3(1) Section 2 does not apply to

(a) an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or of a permanent resident as defined in subsection 2‍(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act;

(b) a person who is authorized, in writing, by an officer designated under subsection 6‍(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act or by a consular officer of the Government of Canada, to enter Canada for the purpose of reuniting immediate family members;

(c) a crew member as defined in subsection 101.01‍(1) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations or a person who seeks to enter Canada only to become such a crew member;

(d) a member of a crew as defined in subsection 3‍(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations or a person who seeks to enter Canada only to become such a member of a crew;

(e) a person who is exempt from the requirement to obtain a temporary resident visa under paragraph 190‍(2)‍(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations and the immediate family members of that person;

(f) a person who seeks to enter Canada at the invitation of the Minister of Health for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response;

(g) a person who arrives by any means of a conveyance operated by the Canadian Forces or the Department of National Defence;

(h) a member of the Canadian Forces or a visiting force, as defined in section 2 of the Visiting Forces Act, and the immediate family members of that member;

(i) a French citizen who resides in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and has been only in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, the United States or Canada during the period of 14 days before the day on which they arrived in Canada;

(j) a person or any person in a class of persons who, in the opinion of the Chief Public Health Officer appointed under subsection 6‍(1) of the Public Health Agency of Canada Act

(i) does not pose a risk of significant harm to public health, or

(ii) will provide an essential service while in Canada;

(k) a person whose presence in Canada, in the opinion of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration or the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, is in the national interest;

(l) a person who arrives by means of a vessel as defined in section 2 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, if the vessel departed before 00:00:01 am Eastern Daylight Time on March 21, 2020 and had a scheduled destination of Canada upon its departure;

(m) the holder of a valid work permit or a study permit as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations;

(n) a person whose application for a work permit referred to in paragraph (m) was approved under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and who has received written notice of the approval, but who has not yet been issued the permit;

(o) a person whose application for a study permit referred to in paragraph (m) was approved under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and who received written notice of the approval before noon, Eastern Daylight Time on March 18, 2020, but who has not yet been issued the permit;

(p) a person permitted to work in Canada as a student in a health field under paragraph 186‍(p) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations;

(q) a person permitted to work in Canada as a provider of emergency services under paragraph 186‍(t) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

(r) a licensed health care professional with proof of employment in Canada;

(s) a person who seeks to enter Canada for the purpose of delivering, maintaining, or repairing medically-necessary equipment or devices;

(t) a person who seeks to enter Canada for the purpose of making medical deliveries of cells, blood and blood products, tissues, organs or other body parts, that are required for patient care in Canada during or within a reasonable period of time after the expiry of the Order;

(u) a person whose application for permanent residence was approved under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and who received written notice of the approval before noon, Eastern Daylight Time on March 18, 2020, but who has not yet become a permanent resident under that Act; or

(v) a worker in the marine transportation sector who is essential for the movement of goods by vessel, as defined in section 2 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, and who seeks to enter Canada for the purpose of performing their duties in that sector.

Exception — signs and symptoms

(2) Despite subsection (1), a foreign national is prohibited from entering Canada from a foreign country other than the United States if they exhibit the following signs and symptoms:

(a) a fever and cough, or

(b) a fever and breathing difficulties.

Exception — optional or discretionary purpose

(3) Despite subsection (1), a person who seeks to enter Canada for an optional or discretionary purpose, such as tourism, recreation or entertainment, is prohibited from entering Canada from a foreign country other than the United States.

Non-application — order

4 This Order does not apply to

(a) a person registered as an Indian under the Indian Act; or

(b) a protected person within the meaning of subsection 95‍(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Powers and obligations

5 For greater certainty, this Order does not affect any of the powers and obligations set out in the Quarantine Act.

Repeal of P.C. 2020-0162

6 The Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from any country other than the United States) is repealed.

Effective period

7 This Order has effect for the period beginning on the day on which it is made and ending on June 30, 2020.

Source: https://orders-in-council.canada.ca/attachment.php?attach=38958&lang=en

Coronavirus: Racism and the long-term impacts of emergency measures in Canada

Of course, there is a long and sordid history of immigration restrictions and internment practices in Canada (as elsewhere). But any comparison should avoid being simplistic, and acknowledge the changes and focus on the current political and health context, rather than the litany of past sins.

Moreover, the population of Canada is diverse, and the measures undertaken are not to preserve the “white” Canada of old, but all Canadians, whatever their origins. So exclusionary perhaps, racist no.

The travel restrictions in place are more inclusive than exclusive in how they treat family members of citizens and permanent residents, as well as allowing for the entry of Temporary Foreign Workers:

The dangers to public health during the COVID-19 pandemic are terrifying, so it’s not surprising governments around the world are taking extraordinary measures to curb its spread, including closing borders to non-nationals.

Canada has become one of many countries to either partially or completely close their borders and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also announced that Canada will no longer consider asylum claims.

We are living through an exceptional situation and governments are taking extreme steps as a result. At the same time, we know extraordinary measures can have enduring and profoundly damaging effects.

In Canada, the War Measures Act, the predecessor to the Emergencies Act (the legislation that Trudeau has considered invoking as part of the government’s response to the pandemic), was used on three occasions: during the First World War, the Second World War and the 1970 FLQ Crisis in Québec. On each of these occasions, there was broad support for its enactment and then subsequent concern about the scope of its application.

Thousands interned during WWI

During the First World War, 8,579 “enemy aliens” were interned — the term referred to citizens of countries that were at war with Canada who resided in Canada — as well as hundreds of conscientious objectors.

Almost 22,000 Japanese Canadians were interned during the Second World War following the attack on Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war against Imperial Japan. About 75 per cent of those interned were Canadian citizens, including 13,000 people who were Canadian-born. Under the sweeping powers of the War Measures Act, the federal government confiscated their property — including land, fishing boats and businesses — and sold it at a discount, using some of the funds to pay for the costs of internment.

During the FLQ crisis following the kidnappings of British diplomat James Cross and Québec cabinet minister and deputy premier Pierre Laporte, the military and police conducted 3,000 searches, detained 497 people, including Québec nationalists and labour activists, in the pursuit of suspected accomplices. Only 62 people were ever criminally charged.

The fallout from all of these excesses was tangible: Ukrainian Canadians, who made up the bulk of the “enemy aliens” in the First World War, fought for decades to be recognized as full citizens; Japanese Canadians sought and received redress more than four decades after their internment; René Levesque and the Parti Québecois roared to power just six years after the FLQ crisis and very nearly achieved the separatist dream of an independent Québec in 1980.

And so with great power, comes great responsibility.

This old adage is all the more relevant if one considers the way many of the travel bans have been instituted along national lines: allowing citizens to move but restricting the movement of others.

Citizenship can be exclusionary

In efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19, lines of responsibility and accountability are being forcefully drawn around the lines of citizenship. This is troubling if one considers that citizenship can be exclusionary, especially when it creates hierarchies of priority and, seemingly, of human value.

It means, for instance, refugees and unaccompanied minors have been “effectively abandoned,” according to NGO workers in Europe.

Canada has won international praise over the last few years for its commitment to refugee resettlement in particular, as evidenced by the arrival of 25,000 Syrian refugees in a few short months.

But Trudeau has announced that due to these “exceptional times,” a new agreement has been signed with the United States that would see asylum-seekers crossing the border on foot returned to the U.S. This exceptional reaction goes against Canada’s commitments under the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and a 1985 Supreme Court ruling that says refugee claimants have a right to a fair hearing (the Singh decision).

The implicit and explicit nationalism apparent in many state responses to COVID-19, including in the Canadian context, is not necessarily “contrary to our values” as some have argued.

Rather, some of Canada’s earliest restrictions on migration and mobility related to people who were “physically defective,” “feeble-minded” or “afflicted with any loathsome disease” to use the language of the 1910 Immigration Act. This same act effectively prohibited Black migration to Canada from the United States and the Caribbean on the basis of that they were “unsuited to the climate or requirements of Canada.”

A ban on Chinese immigration

Prior to that, the federal government used immigration laws in the forms of punitive taxes to exclude Chinese migrants who were considered undesirable, in part because of commonly held stereotypes that people from China were immoral, dishonest, unclean, disease-prone and would never assimilate. These perceived differences and the ineffectiveness of the original head tax led to a near total ban on Chinese migration from 1923 to 1947.

Structurally, Canada’s immigration system — and its subsequent and related border controls — was designed to exclude as much as to include. This remains the case today.

As we navigate our current public health issues, it bears contemplation not only about immediate challenges but also what will come after.

During the pandemic, there have been many disturbing storiesof Asian Canadians being targeted and harassed because of racist perceptions about who they are and where they come from — a situation compounded by U.S. President Donald Trump’s deliberate, nationalistic and racist insistence to give the coronavirus an ethnic and geographic association.

It is notable that this violence has been directed at people of Asian descent, even though the disease has been spread by travellers of many different ethnicities. This difference reflects the easy associations of otherness of the kind that shaped foundational exclusionary immigration laws and regulations and, apparently, continue to resonate in the present.

This is an easy moment to draw lines between us and them, to talk about “our neighbours” and “foreign travellers” as though they are not one and the same. But the long-term damage could be very great, particularly for racialized and vulnerable communities that have experienced the impact of exclusionary migration measures historically.

The decision to close the border to refugees is bitterly ironic in light of Trudeau’s 2018 official apology for the Canadian government’s exclusion in 1939 of Jewish refugees aboard the MS St. Louis.

The past and the future should be part of our thinking in the present. And to be clear, now is no time for nationalism.

Canada provides update on exemptions to travel restrictions to protect Canadians and support the economy

Sensible implementation that appears to provided the needed flexibility where most needed:

News release

March 20, 2020—Ottawa—The Government of Canada is providing an update on travel restrictions put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Exemptions to the air travel restrictions will apply to foreign nationals who have already committed to working, studying or making Canada their home, and travel by these individuals will be considered essential travel for land border restrictions.

The exemptions include

  • seasonal agricultural workers, fish/seafood workers, caregivers and all other temporary foreign workers
  • international students who held a valid study permit, or had been approved for a study permit, when the travel restrictions took effect on March 18, 2020
  • permanent resident applicants who had been approved for permanent residence before the travel restrictions were announced on March 16, 2020, but who had not yet travelled to Canada

In addition, a temporary modification is being made to the Labour Market Impact Assessment process for agriculture and food processing employers, as the required 2-week recruitment period will be waived for the next 6 months.

We are also increasing the maximum allowable employment duration for workers in the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program from 1 to 2 years. This will improve flexibility and reduce the administrative burden for employers, including those in food processing.

To safeguard the continuity of trade, commerce, health and food security for all Canadians, temporary foreign workers in agriculture, agri-food, seafood processing and other key industries will be allowed to travel to Canada under exemptions being put in place to the air travel restrictions that took effect on March 18.

In addition to health screening protocols before travel, all individuals entering from abroad must isolate for 14 days upon their arrival in Canada.

Allowing foreign workers to enter Canada recognizes their vital importance to the Canadian economy, including food security for Canadians and the success of Canadian food producers. The arrival of farm workers and fish/seafood workers is essential to ensure that planting and harvesting activities can take place. There will always be jobs available for Canadians who wish to work on farms and at food processing plants.

Those affected by these exemptions should not try to travel to Canada immediately. We will announce when the exemptions are in place, which we anticipate will be early next week.

These exemptions follow others announced earlier this week, for

  • foreign nationals travelling at the invitation of the Canadian government for a purpose related to the containment of COVID-19

  • close family members of Canadian citizens

  • close family members of Canadian permanent residents

  • a person who is authorized, in writing, by a consular officer of the Government of Canada to enter Canada for the purpose of reuniting immediate family members

  • a person registered as an Indian under the Indian Act

  • accredited diplomats and family members (including NATO, those under the United Nations Headquarters Agreement, other organizations)

  • air crews

  • any foreign national, or group of foreign nationals, whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Minister of Public Safety

  • members of the Canadian military, visiting forces and their family members

  • transiting passengers