If there was one person who could truly be called an icon of the travel industry, it was Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart.
TORONTO — The head of Unifor Local 7378 is calling ‘border baloney’ on the federal government’s new COVID-19 measures for international travellers
Unifor Local 7378 president and pilot Barret Armann points out that the new rule – requiring a negative PCR test for all arriving passengers, on top of the 14-day quarantine – means that symptomatic Canadians who test positive for COVID-19 will now have fewer restrictions placed on them than an asymptomatic international traveller with a confirmed negative test.
“This Liberal government is hastily slapping together a border policy built on bureaucratic baloney,” says Armann. “How does it make any sense at all for a symptomatic Canadian who has tested positive for Covid-19 to be treated as less of a threat and face fewer restrictions than an international traveller who hasn’t even had a sniffle and receives a negative test result? Community spread accounts for the majority of Canada’s COVID cases but you wouldn’t know it comparing government policies side by side.”
The pilots’ union is urging Canadians to question the logic behind the government’s new measures.
Starting tomorrow, Jan. 7, all international travellers must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of entering Canada.
Symptomatic COVID positive Canadians must self-isolate for a period of at least 10 days. As Armann points out, there is no requirement to provide a quarantine plan although some provinces do telephone follow-ups.
Asymptomatic Canadians aren’t eligible for testing in most provinces. For those who meet the requirements for testing they can end their self-isolation either immediately after receiving a negative test result or shortly after symptoms stop.
The union notes that this is in stark contrast to all international travellers who now must undergo testing, have a government approved 14-day quarantine plan, provide regular symptom monitoring updates and be subjected to telephone and in person follow-ups by government officials even if they have no symptoms and have received a COVID negative test result.
Unifor Local 7378 is renewing calls it has made since September for the federal government to replace what it calls the current mish-mash of border policies with a testing on arrival program across the country that mirrors the successful pilot program underway in Alberta that permits asymptomatic travellers to end their quarantines after receiving negative Covid-19 test results.
“Testing on arrival to Canada by Canadians is the best way to ensure accuracy and capture every case of COVID-19 entering our country. A Canadian who has experienced symptoms can go back to work at a factory amongst hundreds of others after receiving a negative test result but every single traveller must sit at home for 14 days? Where is the science or logic behind that? Given the number of politicians who travelled over the holidays, it’s safe to say there isn’t any. It’s time for a one country – one policy approach to Canada’s borders that is built upon testing on arrival and shortened quarantines,” said Armann.
In his daily briefing on Dec. 21 Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he’s tired of waiting for the federal government to implement COVID-19 testing on arriving passengers at Pearson Airport, and said he’s prepared to go it alone with bringing testing to Canada’s largest airport, with or without the federal government’s help.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne, and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair are expected to discuss the new PCR test rule at a briefing this afternoon.