The Government of Canada has announced that they will strengthen the border measures currently in place by focusing on public health and enhanced information sharing with others. This will mainly be done by increasing public health personnel and officers at entry points and using digital forms and processes for better communication. In this way, the government plans to double down on the border measures already in place since March 2020. However, on a positive note, a process is underway to relax the current travel restrictions in order to support family reunification and provide for the entry of international students or entry for compassionate reasons.
Current travel restrictions in place
Anyone entering the Canadian borders upon clearance for entry is subject to mandatory quarantine measures. Flyers entering Canada must pass the Airline’s health check before they are allowed on board. Every port of entry in Canada has an access to a Public Health Officer at all times. On arrival, at a port, the individual’s health and ability to stay in quarantine will be assessed. Any foreign national showing COVID-19 symptoms will be barred from entering the country. A border service officer will then determine if the individual can enter still.
Additionally, those allowed entries are to stay in isolation for 14 days. Also, to ensure these restrictions are maintained, right now around 100 screening officers make approximately 4,300 daily live calls and 3,500 automated calls to 1 million entrees since March 2020.
These calls monitor the activities of those currently in quarantine for the entire duration and to ensure strict compliance, these calls are followed up by law enforcement. In provinces that have signed the Contraventions Act ticketing regime, law enforcement authorities such as the Provincial Police or RCMP can issue fines of up to $1,000 and can ticket the individual again in case of multiple instances of non-compliance. For places that do not follow a ticketing regime, a person could face exorbitant fines up to $750,000. They could also be imprisoned for up to 6 months if a person is charged for an offence under the Quarantine Act. Deliberately or thoughtlessly contravening the Quarantine Act could result in fines as large as $1 million and 3 years’ imprisonment.
New plans and updates on Canada’s Border measures
To prepare for the incoming travellers with Canada’s plans to open borders for certain cases, the government’s main plan is to increase the workforce responsible for overseeing the border traffic. While every port of entry has to have a quarantine officer’s support at all times through the central notification system, the presence of Public Health Officers is being increased to cover 36 ports of entry that account for 90% of the incoming entrees in the upcoming months. Also, an additional 190 public health officers will be deployed over Canada by the end of this fiscal year.
Furthermore, to facilitate better information sharing, from now on travellers to Canada need to provide specific information upon entry, most importantly their contact details. They are also encouraged to give self- updates on their symptoms during their isolation. The Public Health Agency of Canada has installed digital portals for the traveller’s convenience. They can share critical information through the ArriveCAN app and their information can quickly circulate to the provinces and territories in a secure manner. The Public Health agency is also planning to expand the network of screening officers at the call center keeping updated with the border entrees for the 14-day duration.
Canada’s updated entry laws
Canada is in the process of introducing measures to aid in reuniting the families of Canadian Citizens and provide entry for compassionate purposes. The Country is also paving the way for gradual and safe entry for International Students. Overall, the introduced processes will provide entry possibilities for the following.
- Extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. This includes those in an exclusive relationship of at least 1 year and their children. Grandchildren, siblings, and grandparents of citizens and residency holders also fall under extended family in the new entry process.
- Foreigners who wish to enter Canada for compassionate reasons such as a life-threatening illness, death or serious injury and potentially limiting their release from quarantine.
- Starting October 20, 2020, international students who will be attending a learning institution acknowledged and identified by their provincial or territorial government as having a suitable COVID-19 readiness plan in place.
Detailed information regarding a person’s eligibility as an extended family, the process, and requirements to travel and enter Canada will be available on October 8, 2020, on the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada website. The information will also be provided on the same date at the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website, canada.ca/coronavirus.
A vigorous procedure will soon be put in place for extended family to join their loved ones and each entrée will need to apply for authorization and have it in hand before they can travel to Canada. However, amidst all these new policies, the Government’s main priority still remains curtailing the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring the health and safety of the Canadians. Hence travellers should not make any plans until they have passed the necessary qualifications and obtained the authorization to enter Canada.