Canadians and permanent residents who are fully vaccinated are now able to enter the country without having to quarantine — provided they have proof of inoculation and have submitted a negative COVID-19 test.
This is the first phase of loosening the Canada-U.S. border restrictions that have been in place since March 2020.
But the first phase has been met with some confusion, including the rules around quarantining with children, digital proof of vaccination and whether non-essential travel is now allowed.
Here is everything you need to know before you head on a trip to the Canada-U.S. border.
As of 12:01 a.m. EDT Monday, Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are fully vaccinated are permitted to cross the border without having to quarantine or take the day eight COVID-19 test.
Eligible air travellers are also exempt from the requirement that they spend their first three days in Canada in a government-approved hotel.
Fully vaccinated travellers that arrived before 12:01 a.m. Monday are not eligible for testing and quarantine exemptions. This means that travellers who returned to Canada before Monday must complete their 14-day quarantine and day eight test.
Returning Canadian travellers encounter confusion with looser COVID-19 restrictions
How does it work?
In order to skip quarantine, travellers must:
- Be fully vaccinated with one of the approved Health Canada shots: Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.
- Have received the last COVID-19 dose at least 14 days before coming to the border.
- Submit a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before coming to the border.
- Upload the vaccine certificate and COVID-19 test information on the updated ArriveCAN app.
- Take and pass a COVID-19 test upon arrival (you are allowed to go home and wait for the results).
What hasn’t changed?
Although fully vaccinated Canadians can skip quarantine, this is only for essential travel. The Canada Border Services Agency still strongly advises against non-essential travel (like shopping trips in the U.S.).
U.S. citizens heading to Canada by land for non-essential travel are not allowed to enter the country.
The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Canada’s website lists reasons for essential travel as work, study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care and safety and security.
Cross border travel could soon return between Canada and the U.S.
“The restrictions that have been in place since March of 2020 remain in place,” Denis Vinette, with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), said.
“So it’s important for individuals to know that if you haven’t been able to travel up until now and you weren’t able to travel and enter Canada on July 4th, that doesn’t change. On July 5th, those restrictions remain and you still can’t come into Canada. That’s for a future phase of the border reopening.”
There are no changes for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated Canadians. They are still subject to a 14-day quarantine and the mandatory three-night stay in a hotel if arriving by air. All testing requirements are also mandatory.
What about unvaccinated children?
The new border rules only apply for fully vaccinated Canadians. That means children under the age of 12, who aren’t yet eligible to receive a vaccine, still have to quarantine.
Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children arriving by air with fully vaccinated parents won’t have to go to quarantine hotels — they can stay home for two weeks. However, they must take a second COVID-19 test on their eighth day of isolation. The same rules apply for unvaccinated children crossing the land border.
Updated travel rules for fully vaccinated Canadians
Parents and siblings who are fully vaccinated are exempt from the quarantine requirement.
Health Canada authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 in May. Moderna’s approval for the same age group is pending, but no COVID-19 vaccine is yet authorized for kids younger than 12.
Why about fully vaccinated American citizens?
Fully vaccinated Americans hoping to come to Canada for non-essential travel are still unable to enter the country. It’s unclear when the federal government will allow U.S. citizens to enter the country.
The decision has drawn criticism from the business community and international trade experts.
Mark Warner, an international trade lawyer based in Toronto, said he does not “understand the basis for distinguishing between fully vaccinated Canadians who won’t have to quarantine and fully vaccinated Americans.”
“I say Americans because they’re using essentially the same vaccines approved by Health Canada. So that shouldn’t be controversial. I can understand perhaps other jurisdictions, maybe China, perhaps India. But I don’t get the case for Americans, particularly when it’s so important that we go back to being the world’s largest undefended border.”
What about paper documents?
The CBSA said travellers must use the ArriveCAN app or the website to log their vaccination details and COVID-19 test results prior to coming to the border.
The border agency said the app is mandatory for all travellers entering by land or air.
However, the CBSA said to bring paper documents just in case.
“We’ve asked individuals to travel with their paper evidence. We also understand in some jurisdictions there is actually an ‘E-version’ of their certificate so that it can be presented to the border services officer in some exceptional circumstances. There are some situations where we will be able to accept paper,” Vinette said.
Minister Bill Blair outlines updated requirements for fully vaccinated Canadian travellers at the border
He added that if a traveller does not have access to a smartphone or the internet, they should ask “family and friends to help you create the account and submit your information.”
If someone refuses to submit their information through the ArriveCAN app, the traveller will not be denied entry into Canada by land or boarding if arriving by air, according to the federal government website.
However, the traveller won’t be eligible for the fully vaccinated exemption, may face additional delays at the border for public health questioning and may be subject to fines or enforcement action, the website stated.
Use the updated ArriveCAN app
The ArriveCAN app was released to the public in April 2020 in order to create a secure and easy way for travellers to upload COVID-19 information.
But as of Monday at 12:01 a.m., there is an updated app to download, which is the version the CBSA requires for travellers.
The updated ArriveCAN app is now available to download on the Google Play Store and the App Store. It can also be accessed online through the federal government’s website at canada.ca.
Will border restrictions further loosen?
The mutual travel restrictions between Canada and the United States — which prohibit all discretionary travel between the two countries while continuing to allow the movement of trade, essential workers and international students — are due to expire July 21.
It’s not known if the feds will implement the restrictions for another month, as the federal government has yet to lay out a plan for a “phase 2 reopening.”
The feds previously stated the first phase is a “cautious first step” and announcements about the gradual border reopening plan will be made in the coming weeks.
Trudeau defends new COVID-19 border rules amid questions over who is permitted entry
“We are doing things gradually, but we are talking about weeks and not months anymore. We certainly hope we will have more good news about reopenings in the coming weeks,” Trudeau said at a press conference in Ottawa on June 22.
He did not give a specific date but said the announcement depends on vaccination rates, the number of COVID-19 cases and the variants circulating across the country.
For now, the new changes may add to wait times at the border in the days ahead as officials and travellers begin trying out these new measures, Vinette said.
“We might see as our officers begin to apply these new relief measures and as travellers arrive and are trying to comply with them, that there could be some impacts to the time it takes across the border,” he said.
“We invite people to be patient.”
–With files from The Canadian Press
Canadian travel restrictions ease for fully vaccinated passengers
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Response to mass shootings should be ‘political and immediate,’ survivor says
OTTAWA — Former public safety minister Bill Blair was asked yet again Wednesday about whether his government interfered in the investigation into the April 2020 shooting spree in Nova Scotia — a question that has grabbed political attention in Ottawa for over a week.
Blair and the Prime Minister’s Office are accused of pressuring RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki to release details about the type of weapons used by the gunman, with two RCMP officials alleging Lucki told them that information was connected to upcoming gun legislation.
The government announced a ban on assault-style weapons on May 1, 2020, after cabinet approved an order-in-council enacting the changes.
The Conservatives have accused the Liberals of using a tragedy to further their agenda. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said in a statement last week that it’s completely unacceptable for a government to “use this horrific act of mass murder to gain support for their gun policy.”
But that’s not how a survivor of another mass shooting sees it.
Heidi Rathjen was a student at Montreal’s École Polytechnique in December 1989 when a gunman murdered 14 women and injured 14 others at the school.
She said the response to mass shootings should be “political and immediate.”
“The Conservatives and the gun lobby have been falling over themselves claiming that the (orders-in-council) were some kind of devious self-serving political move that exploited a tragedy, while for the majority of Canadians banning assault weapons is the right thing to do to prevent mass shootings,” she said in an email to The Canadian Press.
“If it took a tragedy to prompt the government into long-awaited action on gun control, that may be a sad commentary on politics, but it is surely beneficial for public safety.”
Rathjen, who leads an advocacy group called PolySeSouvient, said it “would have loved” for the government to respond immediately to what happened at Polytechnique.
“Unfortunately, it took six years of advocacy before a reasonable gun control law was passed, and victims’ families are still fighting for a complete ban on assault weapons — three decades later.”
Blair said his office worked with the RCMP on the list of banned weapons for months before the announcement, but those conversations had “no nexus” with discussions about the shooting spree.
“The RCMP of course were involved in those discussions from the outset because they are responsible for administering the Canadian Firearms Program,” he said.
Allegations of government interference came to light through evidence released by the public inquiry into the shootings, in written notes from Supt. Darren Campbell and a letter to Lucki written by RCMP strategic communications director Lia Scanlan about a meeting held 10 days after the shootings.
Scanlan’s letter, which was written nearly a year later, said Lucki mentioned “pressures and conversations with Minister Blair, which we clearly understood was related to the upcoming passing of gun legislation.” Scanlan’s perception that the commissioner was under political pressure left her feeling disgusted.
“It was appalling, inappropriate, unprofessional and extremely belittling,” Scanlan wrote.
Lucki has acknowledged she did “express frustration with the flow of information” in the meeting.
Blair and Lucki have denied there was any pressure to release a list of the weapons used in the shooting, and neither they nor the Nova Scotia RCMP revealed that information to the public before it was reported by the media in November 2020.
Former police officer Michael Arntfield says if the alleged interference happened, it’s unclear how it would have impacted operations or the investigation.
But more importantly, he says, the “juicy political scandal” is distracting from what is supposed to be an inquiry into why and how a man disguised as a police officer and armed with illegal weapons was able to evade police and continue killing for more than 13 hours.
“The larger conversation about systemic problems in the RCMP operationally, administratively, has been paved over,” he said.
Blair said he did have questions for Lucki when they spoke, and made a point to note that the government “did hear very clearly concerns from the people of Nova Scotia” about the RCMP’s actions.
He said that’s why the public inquiry — which he initially opposed calling — has been tasked with exploring the RCMP’s communication.
The force released limited information to the public on Twitter during the shootings.
It sent a single tweet on April 18 warning of a “firearms complaint” in Portapique, even though the communications officer on call that night was aware there were multiple people dead and that the gunman’s whereabouts were unknown.
Thirteen people were killed that night and several buildings burned to the ground. The next morning, the gunman took another nine lives as he drove through rural parts of the province, evading police until just before noon.
The inquiry has heard it took 27 minutes to get Scanlan’s approval that morning for a tweet warning the public that the gunman was driving a mock RCMP cruiser and wearing a police uniform.
During that time, Kristen Beaton and Heather O’Brien were murdered on the side of the highway in Debert, N.S. Beaton was pregnant when she was killed. Her husband, Nick Beaton, and O’Brien’s daughter, Darcy Dobson, led the calls for a public inquiry into what went wrong in July 2020.
“When you pulled the oxygen out of (an inquiry) that was assembled at the behest of bereaved families to get answers about what’s wrong with the RCMP, it distracts from the original motivation of the inquiry,” Arntfield said, adding the questions about what went wrong are of “life and death interest to Canadians.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2022.
Sarah Ritchie, The Canadian Press
Alberta Utilities Commission approves $31M ATCO fine, says in public interest
CALGARY — The Alberta Utilities Commission has approved a $31-million fine proposed for ATCO Electric’s attempts to overcharge ratepayers for costs it shouldn’t have incurred.
In April, ATCO Electric agreed to pay the penalty after a commission investigation found it deliberately overpaid a First Nation group for work on a new transmission line.
It said ATCO also failed to disclose the reasons for the overpayment when it applied to be reimbursed by ratepayers for the extra cost.
But in May, the Consumers’ Coalition of Alberta said the proposed settlement doesn’t adequately compensate people in the province for the harm they have suffered.
The commission says in its ruling that after carefully considering the settlement agreement, it is satisfied that accepting it is consistent with the public interest.
The commission also says the agreement would not bring the administration of justice into disrepute.
“The commission considers that the settlement is fit and reasonable, falling within a range of reasonable outcomes given the circumstances,” reads the ruling released Wednesday.
The settlement came after an investigation into a complaint that ATCO Electric sole-sourced a contract in 2018 for work needed for a transmission line to Jasper, Alta.
The agreement says that was partly because another of Calgary-based ATCO’s subsidiaries had a deal with a First Nation for projects, including for work camps on the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.
The statement of facts says ATCO Electric feared that if it didn’t grant the Jasper contract to the First Nation, it might back out of its deal with ATCO Structures and Logistics. It’s illegal for a regulated utility to benefit a non-regulated company in this way.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2022.
The Canadian Press
Some cities rethinking Canada Day parades amid rising costs, funding challenges – CTV News
Canada Day celebrations are making a return after two years of scaled-down festivities because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but some Canadians hoping to catch a traditional parade may be out of luck.
Several cities say the rising cost of security and insurance, in addition to troubles securing funding, is forcing them to rethink their celebrations.
In Montreal, there will be no Canada Day parade for the third year running, and this time COVID-19 is only partly to blame.
Organizer Nicholas Cowen says that while the novel coronavirus is a major concern, the federal Heritage Department offered less funding in a year when inflation is at its highest level in decades.
“The parade receives a grant so it is very much like receiving a check for the same amount every year,” he wrote in an email. “This year the funding was to go back to 2015 levels at 2022 prices.”
The parade’s executive director, Caroline Polcsak, explained in an interview that the price of insurance has increased along with almost everything else — down to the ingredients of the large, traditional cake that is served to the public. She said corporate sponsors are hard to get because parades cannot offer tax receipts.
“For the parade, this means less money, higher prices,” Cowen wrote.
Instead, Canada Day celebrations in Montreal will take place at the Old Port, where events will include face painting, games, cake and a concert.
Heritage Canada did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Montreal is not the only city where Canada Day organizers are blaming the rising cost of insurance and security for cancelled parades.
In Strathcona County, Alta., the Sherwood Park and District Chamber of Commerce announced in May that the Canada Day parade would not take place.
“Unfortunately, our success coupled with the many recent incidents at other parades in Canada and the United States has significantly increased the risks associated with parades and the onus on the event organizers,” executive director Todd Banks wrote in a message.
Banks said, “The costs of physical infrastructure, insurance and security obligations have now grown beyond our capabilities when considering all the monetary and volunteer requirements.”
Last year, six people were killed and dozens injured after a man is alleged to have deliberately driven his SUV into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wis. And in Toronto in 2019, four people were injured after shots rang out at a parade celebrating the Raptors’ NBA championship win.
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, which cancelled that city’s Canada Day parade in 2018 over rising prices, announced this year it would neither host a parade nor present a fireworks display, citing “rising costs for safety and security, and across the events industry,” adding that it would instead focus on other events.
Banff, Alta., made the decision to replace its parade with a day of activities and performances.
On its website, the city mentioned several factors for replacing its parade: a desire for less crowding during the pandemic; the advantage of being able to offer performers staggered time slots; a reduction in the use of fossil fuel-powered vehicles; and staffing challenges that have “affected the town’s ability to move all barriers and planters for a one-hour event.”
Last year, many cities opted to cancel Canada Day events after the discovery of unmarked graves at sites of former residential schools. While most events are resuming this year, some cities, such as Winnipeg and Thunder Bay, have chosen to observe Canada Day with cultural programming rather than celebratory events such as parades and fireworks.
The cancellation of Montreal’s parade came months after the death of Roopnarine Singh, a Trinidad-born doctor who organized the city’s first Canada Day parade in 1978 with just a handful of vehicles after being dismayed there was no celebration to mark his adopted country’s birthday.
In an interview in 2017, Singh recalled years of fighting to secure funding for the event, occasionally becoming a thorn in the side of political leaders who didn’t want to anger the province’s separatist faction in the years surrounding the two referendums.
Cowen said Singh, who died in March, had hoped to be in Montreal this summer for the parade. Polcsak said he undoubtedly would have been “upset” to see the event he fought for so hard cancelled.
Both organizers say they’re working hard to secure the funding they need to bring back the parade next year.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2022.
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