The Canadian government is dropping the requirement that domestic and outbound international travellers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, effective June 20. However, all re-entry requirements will remain in effect, and all passengers will continue to have to wear face masks.
This change will allow unvaccinated Canadians to board planes and trains heading to either domestic or international locations, but they will still be required to follow the current testing and quarantine requirements upon re-entry from international destinations.
Foreign nationals coming to Canada will still be required to be vaccinated in order to enter, though they would be able to depart the country if unvaccinated.
Further, “due to the unique nature of cruise ship travel,” the vaccination requirements for passengers and crew of cruise ships will remain in effect.
The requirement to use the ArriveCAN app to show proof of vaccination upon arrival to avoid a federal quarantine will continue, and all travellers will have to continue to abide by other country’s entry requirements, potentially limiting the destinations unvaccinated travellers will be able to visit. Many countries, including the U.S., continue to require proof of vaccination upon entry.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, Treasury Board President Mona Fortier, and Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos made the announcement on Tuesday, alongside major updates to Canada’s vaccine mandates for transportation workers, and federal employees.
In revealing the updated policies, government says the mandates have been effective through the thick of the pandemic, but were never meant to be permanent. Though, should case counts climb again, federal officials say they won’t hesitate to reinstate any suspended COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The Canadian government says this move is coming now “following a successful vaccination campaign.” Nearly 90 per cent of eligible Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19.
“The decision today is not based on something that we woke up yesterday or this morning, and decided to do. We’ve done our homework… What got us [to] today was a period of discussions, of consultations, of looking at the big picture, of preparing ourselves for a potential wave in the fall, but [also] the current situation today,” Alghabra said. “It’s clear that the COVID situation is not the same now as it was last fall when we implemented the vaccine mandate.”
The federal mandates requiring all passengers on planes or trains to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before boarding were first promised by the Liberals during the last federal election, and came into effect in October 2021.
In recent months, pressure has been mounting for the government to lift the travel vaccination requirements from opposition politicians and the travel industry, citing the significant strains and delays at Canadian airports, as well as the easing provincial public health rules.
Throughout these calls, the Liberals have defended the mandates, repeatedly referring to the need to follow the science and advice of public health officials.
On Tuesday, ministers said that the federal government’s “top priority” remains keeping Canadians safe, and that this decision is not related to easing the strain at Canadian airports, which they attribute to “staffing shortages.”
Rather, the ministers cited the virus’ evolution, the current epidemiological and modelling projections, and the high vaccination rate in Canada as key factors in lifting the mandates now.
With the policy change likely prompting even more of an influx in travellers descending on Canadian airports, the transport minister faced several questions about whether the government is equipped to adequately handle the added crowds. He said work continues with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to “increase efficiencies.”
Last week the government halted its mandatory random testing of vaccinated travellers at airports, but maintained the requirement for any unvaccinated travellers to be swabbed.
In order to be considered fully vaccinated under the federal policy, people have had to show proof of a full vaccination series, but not a booster dose, despite calls from public health officials to make a third dose part of the requirement to better protect against severe illness and to shore-up waning immunity.
On Tuesday, Duclos said the Omicron variant has made it evident that two doses “are no longer enough,” though the government is not going beyond encouraging those who have not yet received a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to do so.
“Our rate of boosters in Canada is too low. It’s lower than all other G7 countries, and that is not good. However, we know we can do better… and that’s [what] we’re going to do also in the next weeks and months with all provinces and territories, so that we are better prepared and sufficiently prepared for what… may be coming in the fall.”
Reacting to the news, the National Airlines Council of Canada—which represents Canada’s largest carriers, including Air Canada and WestJet—said it views the move as a “major milestone for the aviation sector, the tourism industry, and for Canadian travellers,” but said it is not enough to resolve the problems at airports.
The Council is calling for immediate changes to ArriveCAN to eliminate duplicative health checks, end the mandate for inbound international travellers, and a commitment to make permanent the recent suspensions of mandates and random testing.
“The government’s decision to suspend the national vaccine mandate for air travel and transportation employees is a positive step, one that will simplify many aspects of travel and bring Canada closer to the emerging standard currently in place around the world. Airlines will work diligently to implement these changes,” said the Council’s interim president and CEO Suzanne Acton-Gervais in a statement.
Conservative transport critic Melissa Lantsman said that while the government has “finally” moved to end travel mandates, she said a suspension is not the same as a full elimination. “Some vaccine mandates is not all vaccine mandates. Still NO science we’ve seen to justify any mandates,” she tweeted.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says his team was consulted about the decision to remove these mandates before the announcement was made, given the NDP are in a confidence and supply deal with the Liberals.
“We said it’s a very important factor in any decision, that we are following best evidence, and that we are letting Canadians know why certain orders are in place… And if there is no longer evidence we should no longer continue with a [public health] order,” Singh said. “We supported that decision.”
‘McGregor-Mayweather rematch in the making’
Mayweather beat McGregor in their huge clash back in June 2017 but McGregor has hinted at a possible rematch in a post on his Instagram account.
The UFC superstar posted a cryptic post hinting at a second bout by sharing a picture of their 2017 clash and writing, “I accept.”
However, it’s uncertain as to whether a rematch between the pair would be another exhibition bout, or whether Mayweather would make it one more professional fight.
Meanwhile, YouTuber, Jake Paul, has repeatedly claimed that Mayweather still hasn’t paid him following last year’s exhibition bout. Their eight-round exhibition bout went to a draw as Mayweather was unable to knockout Paul, “Floyd Mayweather is broke. I have been saying it all the time. I think he probably spent it on the girls he pays to be around him. He’s hard to hit, but even harder to collect money from. Who should I fight next?”
However, Mayweather has since dismissed the accusations claiming that Paul has suggested that the pair should have a second exhibition bout.
“This is the guy who said he didn’t get paid, which we know is truly false, which is why I don’t entertain the bull*** a lot of the time. We know he got paid and if he didn’t get paid he wouldn’t be trying to get another payday. It is so crazy that Logan Paul wants to do an exhibition again but it is the same guy that said he didn’t get paid. It is what it is,” said Mayweather.
Mayweather was expected to earn US$64 million from the fight, with Logan receiving US$18.5 million of the purse.
G7: Canada to elevate small Commonwealth nations' concerns – CTV News
KIGALI, Rwanda –
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau headed to the G7 summit in Germany on Saturday without a consensus from the Commonwealth to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but with a chorus of countries calling for help to overcome the fallout of the war.
Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly arrived in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, on Wednesday for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, which has been dominated by the concerns of nations that are suffering from food scarcity. Trudeau departed for the G7 talk slater in the day.
In the final communique from the Commonwealth summit, the 54 participating countries said they discussed the conflict in Ukraine, ” underscored the need to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states,” and ” emphasized that all countries must seek peaceful resolution to all disputes in accordance with international law.”
The countries stopped short of condemning Russia, as Trudeau and United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson have done throughout the summit.
“I can assure you that the topic of standing up for Ukraine was much discussed,” Trudeau said at a press conference following the conclusion of the summit, referencing “strong language” in the communique.
Most Commonwealth Nations condemned Russia’s actions at a United Nations vote in March, but 10 abstained. Among them was India, whose Prime Minister Narendra Modi opted not to attend the Commonwealth summit and instead spoke virtually with the leaders of Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa.
Trudeau said Russian President Vladimir Putin has run a disinformation campaign and has even been “telling outright lies,” including blaming the food security crisis on Western sanctions against Russia.
He said food shortage stems from Russia’s illegal actions, including blockade at key ports, as well as the deliberate targeting of Ukrainian grain storage facilities through cruise missile strikes.
“I was very clear with our friends and partners around the table, and not just clear on Russia’s responsibility, but on how Canada and the West are stepping up,” Trudeau said.
Canada will be raising the growing threat of famine at the G7 in Schloss Elmau Germany, Joly said.
She said Canada was in “listening mode” at the Commonwealth meetings, where leaders of smaller nations were able to speak without the dominating presence of the United States, Russia and China.
“What is clear to us is that Russia is weaponizing food and putting a toll on many countries around the world, and putting 50 million lives at risk,” Joly told reporters Friday in Rwanda.
Trudeau had attempted to meet with the chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, for several days during the Commonwealth summit but the sit-down was repeatedly postponed and eventually cancelled.
Shortly after Trudeau arrived in Rwanda, the government announced Canada would dedicate a new ambassador to the African Union, which has suffered from the food shortages inflicted on the continent as a result of the warin Ukraine.
Both Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Putin have met with representatives of the African Union, with Russia blaming sanctions against its government for stopping the flow of grain.
At the conclusion of the Commonwealth summit, Trudeau announced $94 million in funding for various education initiatives and $120 million to support gender equality and women’s rights in Commonwealth countries.
Some of the other voices the prime minister has promised to centre at his international meetings, including the G7 summit,
belong to youth leaders who spoke at a Saturday-morning event focused on issues facing young people around the world.
Some of the delegates spoke about the devastating effects of climate change, particularly around remote island nations where infrastructure cannot withstand natural disasters and rebuilding efforts take years. The onslaught takes a toll on education and health services, one delegate told the forum.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2022.
New federal task force to review Canada’s immigration, passport delays – Global News
The federal government has created a special task force to help tackle the major delays with immigration applications and passport processing that have left Canadians frustrated.
In a statement announcing the new task force, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government knows the delays are unacceptable, and will continue to do everything it can to improve the delivery of the services in an efficient and timely manner.
Trudeau said the new task force will help guide the government to better meet the changing needs of Canadians, and continue to provide them with the high-quality services they need and deserve.
Ten cabinet members will spearhead the new committee, which will review how services are delivered, and identify gaps and areas for improvement.
New passport wait-time estimator shows system backlog
The committee will be expected to make recommendations outlining short- and longer-term solutions that would reduce wait times, clear out backlogs, and improve the overall quality of services provided.
In addition, the task force will monitor external issues, such as labour shortages around the world, which contribute to travel delays at home and abroad.
© 2022 The Canadian Press
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