Police officers have made nearly 2,200 home visits to make sure Canadians are complying with the self-isolation rule when they cross back into the country — a small percentage of the more than one million travellers who have returned home since the start of the pandemic.
The new statistics are coming out as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hints at new measures to track travellers who cross into Canada once border restrictions start to ease.
Canadians who cross back into the country now are required by law to self-isolate for 14 days, whether they have symptoms of COVID-19 or not. That order came into effect in late March as global cases of COVID-19 were climbing rapidly.
Anyone arriving in Canada by air or land must complete a contact tracing form (either on paper, online or via mobile app) to help the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) enforce the 14-day quarantine requirement.
The Canada Border Services Agency says it alerts PHAC if it suspects a returning traveller won’t comply.
The health agency then flags the RCMP’s national operations centre if it needs help enforcing the act. The RCMP has been playing a coordinating role with local police during the pandemic.
As of May 13, the Public Health Agency of Canada had passed on to the RCMP 2,198 referrals for “physical verification” of quarantine compliance — 705 in Ontario alone — said PHAC spokesperson Natalie Mohamed in an email to CBC News. Not all of the verification visits were conducted by RCMP; some were handed off to other police services.
PHAC says there have been no arrests under the Quarantine Act since the pandemic restrictions began — although one person in Richmond, B.C. was fined $1,000.
Failing to comply with the Quarantine Act can lead to a fine of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months. If someone is found to have jeopardized another person’s life while wilfully or recklessly contravening the act, the penalties can be even greater: $1 million or three years in prison, or both.
A spokesperson for the RCMP said PHAC is only asking for police help in certain cases, after the health agency has run initial checks by phone, text or e-mail.
The federal government first introduced the 14-day quarantine rule through the Quarantine Act order on March 25 — and later expanded the order by saying that anyone returning home from abroad without a credible self-isolation plan would be forced to stay at a designated quarantine facility, such as a hotel.
Border deal with U.S. extended until June 21
For now, travel into Canada from abroad remains limited.
On Tuesday, Trudeau announced that Canada and the U.S. had arrived at a deal to extend the restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border for another 30 days.
Both countries reached an agreement in March to temporarily close the border to non-essential travel — meaning no recreational visits — while keeping it open to commercial traffic and essential workers who cross for work.
Trudeau also hinted Tuesday that Canada could bring in tougher measures to slow the spread of the virus once the border finally reopens to non-essential travel.
“These are ongoing questions. We’ve given ourselves another month before we have to have the right answers to those questions on non-essential travel,” he told reporters.
“But even now, we know that we need to do more to ensure that travellers who are coming back from overseas or from the United States … are properly followed up on, are properly isolated and don’t become further vectors for the spread of COVID-19.”
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam called the mandatory 14-day quarantine for arrivals a “cornerstone” of federal pandemic policy going forward. Trudeau said the federal government is working with the premiers on the issue.
“But certainly, once we get to a point where non-essential travel picks up again in the coming months, I guess, we need to have strong measures in place and we’re looking at those closely,” he said.
WATCH | Mandatory 14-day quarantine a ‘cornerstone’ of pandemic response: Dr. Tam
Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus, the party’s critic for public safety and border security, said the government needs to offer a plan for easing border restrictions and explain the benchmarks it’s using to guide its actions.
“It was the Trudeau government’s failure to close our borders that allowed the virus to spread in the first place. It is incumbent on the Trudeau government to explain how they plan to ensure that travellers who are coming back to Canada are not spreading COVID-19,” he said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, right now the Trudeau government is telling Canadians to ‘wait and see’ without explaining what metrics they are relying on to make decisions.”
The NDP’s public safety critic, Jack Harris, said public health officials need to be involved in deciding which measures are necessary at the border.
“We have concerns about the lack of consistency in the application of quarantine rules at the border,” he said.
“As the pressure increases to open up the border with the Americans, people are going to be less and less comfortable unless there are better measures in place to ensure our communities are safe.”
As of Tuesday evening, there were more than 4.8 million reported cases of the novel coronavirus worldwide. More than 1.5 million of those cases are in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins University tracking tool.
Outside of its deal with the U.S. administration, Canada closed off most international travel back in March with some caveats, including an exception for temporary foreign workers.
More than a million Canadian citizens and permanent residents returned home at the onset of the pandemic, when government officials began urging Canadians to avoid all international travel and come home as soon as possible.
Since then, travel into Canada has dropped dramatically but tens of thousands of people still cross by land and air every week.
During the week of May 11 to May 17, more than 127,000 people crossed at land borders — most of them truckers — according to the CBSA. That’s an 88 per cent drop compared to the same time period a year ago.
And 14,536 individuals landed at Canada’s international airports last week, said the CBSA — a drop of 98 per cent.
Ontario, Quebec continue to account for majority of Canada’s new novel coronavirus cases – Globalnews.ca
Despite hundreds of new novel coronavirus cases still being reported in Ontario and Quebec, the number of overall cases across Canada continued to trend downward Friday.
More than 600 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported on Friday raised the national tally past 94,000 cases overall. More than 52,000 people are considered recovered, with more than 1.9 million tests conducted.
The national death toll went up by 66 deaths, for a total of 7,703.
Quebec accounted for the majority of the daily death toll once again. The province has been the hardest-hit region in Canada for the past few weeks, with 55 per cent of the national caseload and nearly 5,000 deaths (more than 60 per cent of Canada’s death toll).
Quebec reported 50 new deaths and 255 new cases on Friday. More than 17,700 people are deemed recovered in the province.
Ontario reported 344 new cases and 15 new deaths, leaving the province with nearly 30,000 cases and more than 2,300 deaths. More than 23,000 people have recovered from the virus.
Coronavirus: Ontario resumes short-term rentals
B.C. reported one new case and one new death, for a total of 2,628 cases and 167 deaths. The province has seen 2,272 people recover so far.
The Prairie provinces recorded new cases in the single digits. Alberta saw seven new cases — the lowest daily number recorded by the province since March 12.
All four Atlantic provinces reported no new cases or deaths on Friday. Prince Edward Island’s 27 cases have been resolved for weeks now, Newfoundland and Labrador has two active cases left out of 261 cases and three deaths, and Nova Scotia, where 61 people have died so far, saw bars and restaurants reopen.
New Brunswick reported its first COVID-19-related death on Thursday and has mandated face coverings in public buildings. Out of 136 cases, 121 are recovered.
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked why his government didn’t collect race-based data
The Northwest Territories and the Yukon continue to see no new cases, having resolved all their cases for some time. Nunavut remain the only region in Canada that hasn’t reported a positive case of COVID-19 so far.
Worldwide, COVID-19 has resulted in more than 6.7 million cases and nearly 394,000 deaths, according to figures tallied by Johns Hopkins University.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
'Safe restart' of Canadian economy will take 6-8 months, Freeland says – CTV News
A ‘safe restart’ of the Canadian economy will likely take at least half a year, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Friday, a day after Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam cautioned that relaxing current restrictions too much or too soon could result in an “explosive growth” of new cases.
“One other thing that we would like to really underscore is what we are talking about is the safe restart right now. So this is not a long-term plan,” Freeland told reporters when asked about the government’s plans for the $14 billion earmarked to help provinces and territories.
“This is for ensuring a safe restart over the next six to eight months. And I think it’s important for Canadians to understand that’s the timeframe that we are focused on.”
Canada is fast approaching 95,000 COVID-19 cases and has recorded more than 7,700 deaths across the country. Most provinces and territories have begun reporting no or very few cases and deaths and are beginning to look at how to restart the economy, but Ontario and Quebec are still reporting close to or morethan 300 new cases a day and numerous deaths. The two provinces now account for more than 90 percent of the cases, but have also begun plans for reopening.
Tam said Thursday that until an effective vaccine or treatment becomes available, Canada needsto remain vigilant with its containment efforts to prevent an “explosive” second wave, with the latest federal modelling showing that another peak was possible in October without sufficient prevention measures.
The last time the federal government made a projection was in late April, when it estimated that the country was on track to report between 53,196 and 66,835 cases of COVID-19, and between 3,277 and 3,883 deaths. In reality, there were 62,046 confirmed cases and 4,043 people had died by May 5.
Freeland said the government understands that the needs of each province and territory vary a great deal, and that it wanted to work collaboratively with them.
“We really are approaching this by saying to the provinces and territories, we understand that a safe restart is essential. And that it is expensive.”
With files from Ottawa news Bureau Online Producer Rachel Aiello
Feds to send $600 to some Canadians with disabilities – CTV News
Canadians with disabilities will be sent a one-time tax-free payment of up to $600, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday, in an effort to help offset the financial pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This new financial aid will go to all who are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit, as of June 1.
Canadians who have a valid certificate for the Disability Tax Credit will receive $600. Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate and who are eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension will receive $300. Canadians who are eligible for both of these programs and are also eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will be receiving $100.
The government says that because of the special one-time payments going to seniors, the amount seniors with disabilities will receive through this stream will be less, but in the end will total the same amount of $600.
“People who are eligible for this special payment will receive it automatically,” the federal government has announced, meaning that eligible recipients of these new one-time payments will not need to apply. However, as announced with the seniors funding on Thursday, it could be weeks before the money lands in the hands of those eligible.
For those who are eligible and under the age of 18, the special payment will be sent to their primary caregiver and in cases of shared custody, each parent will receive $300.
“This payment will go to existing disability tax credit certificate holders, which includes parents with children or dependents with disabilities, seniors, veterans and many other Canadians that we know have costs associated with severe and prolonged disabilities,” Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough said on Friday.
Some Canadians with disabilities had been watching the various announcements for students, seniors, and other targeted demographics and have been left wondering why they appeared to have fallen through the cracks.
For many already living on a low income, they are facing more expenses due to the pandemic, such as increased costs for personal support workers, grocery delivery fees and prescription drug dispensing fees.
The government estimates that 1.2 million Canadians will be eligible for this one-time top-up, which will cost $548 million. Among working-age Canadians with disabilities, more than 1.5 million are unemployed or out of the labour market entirely.
NEW ACCESSIBILITY PROGRAMS
In addition to the one-time payments, the federal government is launching two new accessibility-focused programs.
One, focused on national workplace accessibility, will see $15 million go to community organizations to develop programs and expand current training opportunities to help Canadians with disabilities adapt to the realities of COVID-19, including helping set up effective work-from-home arrangements and training for in-demand jobs.
The second is a $1.8 million fund being shared between five projects to develop accessible technology such as accessible payment terminals for individuals with sight loss; arm supports that will allow Canadians with disabilities to use standard technology; systems to allow Canadians with neurological conditions to interact with technology for a longer period of time; and to develop software to expand expression and voice recognition.
“We know this pandemic has deeply affected the lives and health of all Canadians and disproportionately affected Canadians with disabilities in particular,” Qualtrough said. “We also recognize that persons with disabilities are at a higher risk of job loss during economic downturns.”
Asked more broadly whether the government has plans to extend or amend the $2,000 a-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit in light of the shifting economic situation and gradual reopening, the minister said that conversations are underway.
“Our thinking moving forward is how do we balance a need to continue to support workers while not disincentivizing work, and absolutely those conversations are happening right now.”
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