The federal government is deploying the Quarantine Act in the fight against COVID-19, imposing mandatory self-isolation rules for any traveller returning to Canada with fines and even jail time for those who break the rules.
The legislation, which went into effect Wednesday, means people coming back to Canada are now legally required to go into self-isolation for 14 days.
Here’s what you need to know about the mandatory quarantine and how it works:
How will a mandatory quarantine be enforced?
As of Thursday morning, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers will start telling all returning Canadians and permanent residents of the new orders and explaining they’re forbidden from making any stops on their way home.
“My officials are working with CBSA right now to ensure that people know that this will be serious and that there will be significant penalties if people violate the quarantine,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Wednesday.
Spot checks will be conducted by the government of Canada to verify compliance, according to Hajdu.
“We are implementing the Quarantine Act so there is no confusion about the need to do so whether you are symptomatic or not,” Hajdu said.
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On Thursday, Canada’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said federal health officials will be working closely with their local counterparts to conduct random checkups that could involve phone calls or in-person visits.
Tam said federal officials will “collaborate” with local officials to deal with repeat offenders who violate the quarantine requirement.
“If, for whatever reasons, someone is not complying, we can collaborate with local public health officials,” Tam said. “We can engage police officers if needed… hopefully that won’t happen frequently.”
However, it’s still unclear when and which police agencies will be brought in to deal with people who violate the quarantine requirement.
Generally, federal legislation — such as drug laws— are enforced by municipal police forces, provincial police or RCMP.
Barbara von Tigerstrom, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan who researches public health law, said enforcement could be difficult given the volume of people entering Canada.
Between March 14 and 20, roughly one million citizens and permanent residents returned to Canada, according to CBSA statistics.
“Everyone is hoping they won’t have to take enforcement action, or as little as possible,” von Tigerstrom said. “The number of people affected obviously makes it challenging to do the enforcement on the ground.
“And law enforcement, I’m sure, are busy with a lot of other things.”
The move comes after several reports of travellers stopping to pick up groceries or do errands after returning home to Canada. As of Thursday morning, COVID-19 has sickened more than 3,500 in Canada and killed at least 35.
Global News also reported on a number of cases on Wednesday in which travellers said there was little to no screening for COVID-19 at major airports, like Toronto’s Pearson International.
What are the penalties?
Hajdu’s office said in a statement late Wednesday that the maximum penalties include a fine of up to $750,000 and six months in jail.
A person who causes risk of death or serious bodily harm to another person while wilfully or recklessly contravening the Act could also face fines of up to $1-million, imprisonment of up to three years, or both, according to the government.
Some provinces have already made arrests under their own emergency measures.
Police in Quebec and Newfoundland arrested two women who had tested positive for the new coronavirus and violated a quarantine order.
Meanwhile, in Nova Scotia, police now have the power to enforce the province’s Health Protection Act, which bans gatherings of more than five people and allows for fines of up to $1,000 for individuals and $7,500 for business owners.
In Albert, peace officers and police are now able to issue fines of up to $1,000 to enforce public health orders related to new coronavirus.
How do I get home from the airport?
Anyone entering Canada mandated self-isolate for 14 days
There was some initial confusion about how travellers were expected to get home once arriving at airports — especially those who don’t live near an airport.
Hajdu said returning travellers would be barred from taking public transit home or to their place of isolation to protect vulnerable people from getting sick. The government later clarified that the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) would assist with transportation and accommodation arrangements as needed.
“All travellers that don’t have an opportunity to return in a private vehicle, for example, will be provided transportation to their destination,” Hajdu said.
A health official also said symptomatic travellers will have to isolate in the city of arrival, meaning one of the four cities still accepting international travellers. Individuals required to isolate in the city of arrival will have accommodations and meals provided.
Tam said Thursday that the PHAC has contracted medical transport that can take people to their home depending on the distance.
“The ill passengers may be either be transferred to a federal quarantine site, or if it’s within our medical transportation distance, we will drive them all the way home,”
What exactly is the Quarantine Act?
The Quarantine Act is a piece of legislation bearing the same name that went into effect shortly after Confederation in 1872, according to the federal government.
However, following the deadly SARS outbreak of 2003, the government made changes to the legislation to increase the latitude given to government officials.
The legislation gives the federal health minister sweeping powers — from routine screenings at airports to mandatory isolation orders — to stop the spread of communicable diseases either in or out of Canada.
While Canada has not enforced such strong measures, it has the constitutional authority, according to University of Ottawa law professor Martha Jackman.
Jackman explained that Canadians have the right to mobility as per Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but the government can infringe on it if deemed necessary.
“Section 1 of the charter does allow the government to restrict charter rights if it is reasonably and demonstrably justifiable,” she said, noting that in this case, government officials would have to prove it was recommended by medical professionals as a necessary step in curbing COVID-19 cases.
“As long as the decisions really are grounded in legitimate public health concerns then, you know, they would be deemed by court to be justifiable,” she said.
The Quarantine Act was invoked earlier this year when travellers returning to Canada from Wuhan, China and other global hot spots for the novel coronavirus were detained for two weeks at an eastern Ontario military base.
— With files from Global News’ Maham Abedi and the Canadian Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
B.C. to require people returning to Canada to have self-isolation plan – Global News
“As we welcome British Columbians back home, we must stay vigilant and do everything we can,” Premier John Horgan told a news conference on Wednesday.
“As we follow the advice and guidance of our provincial health officer, it’s also important to take care of one another. By supporting people through a self-isolation plan after international travel, we will keep people safe and help flatten the curve.”
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The measure is in place effective immediately. You can view the form to submit your plan here.
The plan, which can be submitted online or completed in person on arrival to B.C., must show that returning travellers have supports in place to safely self-isolate for two weeks, such as ordering groceries to be delivered instead of going to buy them at a store.
Starting Friday, provincial officials will be on hand at Vancouver International Airport and major land border crossings to make sure the plans are complete and assist anyone who needs it.
If an airline traveller arrives at YVR and an adequate self-isolation plan is proposed but needs additional support, the person may be taken or directed to an accommodation site to begin quarantine until any outstanding details of their plan are included.
Horgan did not have any details on the location of the quarantine areas, and said he’s working with the federal government to coordinate.
If a traveller arrives at a major land border crossing and needs help to create a plan, they will be sent directly home to start self-isolating, with a check-in from officials to follow.
The province has repeatedly raised concerns about having enough resources to communicate and enforce public-health orders to those arriving in B.C.
A couple in B.C.’s Cowichan Valley refused to self-isolate since recently returning from international travel. The mayor of District of North Cowichan said the municipality does not have the power to enforce the federal Quarantine Act — that’s up to the RCMP.
Federal government imposes mandatory quarantine for returning travelers
The act, which went into effect March 25, states that anyone returning to Canada from another country must immediately self-isolate for 14 days, with penalties of fines or jail time.
Staff with the Canada Border Services Agency were to inform all returning Canadians and permanent residents of the new orders and forbid them from making any stops on their way home.
On Wednesday, Global News has learned there are currently no public health officials stationed at Canada-U.S. land border crossings to assist in screening for COVID-19.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Coronavirus: Canadian-born Second World War Dam Buster dies from COVID-19 – Global News
Ken Sumner, Canadian-born veteran of the legendary Dam Busters squadron, who spent almost 200 hours in aircraft fighting Nazi Germany and who was decorated for his devotion to duty, died from the novel coronavirus on April 2.
He was 96 years old.
“He never said much. He was a quiet guy, but when he spoke every single person listened,” said Warwick Shepherd, Sumner’s grandson.
“He was immensely proud and a dogged fighter.”
Sumner died in hospital in the U.K. last week, shortly after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Shepherd remembers his granddad’s love for his kids or grandkids and his fierce determination.
Shepherd, speaking via Skype from Chester, U.K., told Global News Sumner ran five marathons when he was in his 70s and toured the Great Wall of China in his 80s.
“He didn’t realize it wasn’t a race every day, so he would set off and run ahead of everyone, not thinking it was actually a sightseeing tour.”
Shepherd said Sumner rarely spoke about his war service.
“Like most veterans, he was very humble and very quiet about it.”
Shepherd does know that his granddad was once part of the most celebrated bombing squadron in the Second World War.
Ken Sumner was born in Prairie River, Saskatchewan on May 5, 1923. His own father emigrated to Canada to start a farm after fighting in the first World War, but had to return to England during the Great Depression.
Sumner had originally planned to be a doctor, but he left school when the war began. He enlisted, age 18, in the RAF.
He became a bomb aimer on the famed Avro Lancaster aircraft. It was the aimer’s role to tell the pilot the heading when on a bombing run and when to release the payload.
The aimer also took the ‘bomb photograph,’ which served as proof of the plane’s success.
He joined the No. 44 Rhodesia Squadron, which was named in honour of that British colony’s contribution to the Allied war effort.
The determination, which is grandson recognized even late into Sumner’s life, was on full display during his time in a Lancaster.
According to a copy of the London Gazette from 1944, Sumner was hit by shrapnel in the hand and arm while en route to a target. He hid the extent of the injury from the pilot because he was afraid the pilot would return to the U.K.
Sumner completed the mission and only told the crew how badly he was hurt when they were once again over British soil.
For his devotion to duty he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal.
“The distinguished flying medal, or DFM, was very significant,” Ted Barris, author of ‘Dam Busters: Canadian Airmen and the Secret Raid against Nazi Germany, said.
“If you were a sergeant pilot or a gunner and not as involved in the strategic and tactical aspects of the attack, you might be overlooked,” he explained.
“But to be noticed, to be recognized and to receive the DFM is very important.”
Shortly after the mission on which he was injured, he joined the legendary 617 Squadron, better known as the ‘Dam Busters.’
The Dam Buster raid was a daring attack on the heart of Nazi Germany’s industrial heartland — a series of dams along the Ruhr River.
The plan, officially known as ‘Operation: Chastise,’ sent a squadron of Lancaster bombers — crewed by pilots from all over the Commonwealth — zooming at treetop level through a river valley at full speed so they could literally bounce a specially-designed bomb on the water over torpedo nets and into the dams.
Barris said there wasn’t another raid like it.
“For these crews to come down at 30 metres above the reservoir, and drop this bomb at 375 kilometres an hour, spinning 500 revolutions per minute backwards, with absolutely precise navigational piloting, wireless radio operating, was a miracle,” he said.
Barris noted that Lancasters were designed to bomb from 25- or 30,000 feet (about 7,600 to 9,100m).
“For them to fly 100 feet off the deck where the radar couldn’t see them, essentially — we talk about flying under the radar, this is where the term initiated.”
Two of the dams were destroyed and more were damaged. The loss of hydroelectric power and flooding of military facilities hindered the Nazi war machine.
Barris, speaking over Skype from Uxbridge, Ont., said the success of the raid came at a crucial time for the Allies.
“At that point in the war, at the end of 1942 and early ‘43, morale was at a very low ebb on the Commonwealth side,” he explained.
He pointed to the evacuation at Dunkirk, when the Nazis beat the Allied forces back to the North Channel and off of mainland Europe; the disastrous Dieppe raid, in which more than 900 Allied soldiers perished; and the Pearl Harbour attack as reasons why the prospects of defeating Adolf Hitler seemed so dim.
The Dam Buster raid, says Barris, was a needed victory, but while the attack was a success, he stressed, it wasn’t strategically or tactically critical.
“The dams raid was not a knockout punch — it didn’t deliver the coup de grace to industry in Nazi production of war weaponry,” he said.
“But at a crucial time in the war when there was nothing really to crow about in terms of Allied victories, it was an Allied victory.”
Sumner joined 617 Squadron after the legendary raid and after the Dam Busters nom du guerre was officially bestowed. That meant that any member of the squadron was a Dam Buster.
The 617 continued as a specialist precision bombing unit for the rest of the war and was sent on many more raids with unique bombs.
According to Sumner’s daughter, Lorelle Shepherd, he took part in many high-profile attacks with the Dam Busters, bombing Hamburg and Dresden and using other famous munitions like the ‘Tall Boy’ and ‘Grand Slam’ bombs.
“The Dam Busters, to their credit, not only took out the dams in ’43, but were involved in all the major operations in Bomber Command following that, right to the end of the war,” Barris said.
It was as a Dam Buster in 1944 when Sumner met Phyllis “Rennie” Reynolds, of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). They married less than two years later and later had three children.
Rennie passed away in 2015.
Shepherd said his granddad was always very proud of his Canadian roots and told Global News that he wanted his connected to the country to be highlighted at his funeral.
“What we’re hoping to do at his funeral next week is drape not only the Union Jack flag over the coffin, which is afforded to veterans,” Shepherd said, “but also the Canadian flag as well, because that’s what he wanted.”
Sumner had wanted half of his ashes spread near Prairie River.
Shepherd said he looked up to his granddad and that his dedication to public service is needed now during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think we can look to that generation,” he said, [showing us] a way that we can really work together and get through this.”
Shepherd said a small service will take place next week in order to and a larger one, with all of the military honours due his father, will happen next year after the pandemic ends.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
B.C. federal prison has highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada – Global News
A federal prison in the Fraser Valley has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada, according to government statistics.
Correctional Service of Canada numbers show the Mission Institution, a medium-security prison, has 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19. One test came back negative and results from 17 tests are pending.
There are no other positive cases in federal institutions in B.C.
The Joliette Institution in Quebec has 10 cases and Ontario’s Grand Valley Institution has seven.
In all, 35 inmates at facilities across Canada have tested positive for the respiratory virus.
What has caused 11 cases at Mission Institution? It’s unclear because prison visits have been suspended along with work releases and group education programs.
The union representing prison staff says 49 correctional officers across Canada have tested positive for COVID-19. All but one of the cases are in Quebec.
The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers has been asking for a different set of criteria for the testing of correctional officers, saying there may be a requirement to test employees who do not have symptoms but may have had contact with someone with COVID-19.
— With files from The Canadian Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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