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

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

Fentanyl was among the drugs seized by New Hazelton RCMP in a big bust in early January. (File photo)
New Hazelton RCMP arrest five, seize drugs and large amount of cash

Police find suspected heroin, fentanyl and crystal meth during early January drug bust

Smithers Local Health area reported 32 new cases of COVID-19 for the second week of January. (BC CDC graphic)
Weekly new cases of COVID-19 rise to 32 in Smithers LHA Jan. 10 – 16

Northern Health reports 35 new cases for 501 active, 44 hospitalized, 17 in critical care Wednesday

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

Smithers Secondary School students participate in a high performance workout in advance of the school becoming a campus of the Canadian Sport School. (Thom Barker photo)
Smithers Secondary chosen for campus of elite sport school

The Canadian Sport School provides supports and resources for high performance athletes

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

Police are searching for an alleged sex offender, Nicole Edwards, who they say has not returned to her Vancouver halfway house. (Police handout)
Police hunt for woman charged in ‘horrific’ assault who failed to return to Surrey halfway house

Call 911 immediately if you see alleged sex offender Nicole Edwards, police say

A screenshot from a local Instagram account video. The account appeared to be frequented by Mission students, and showed violent videos of students assaulting and bullying other students.
Parents, former students describe ‘culture of bullying’ in Mission school district

Nearly two dozen voices come forward speaking of abuse haunting the hallways in Mission, B.C.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Disgraced Kelowna social worker faces another class-action lawsuit

Zackary Alphonse claims he was not informed of resources available to him upon leaving government care

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Most Read