Tourism and business groups are calling on the federal government to remove the pre-departure COVID-19 testing requirement for fully vaccinated international travellers, arguing that the measure is no longer necessary at this point in the pandemic.
Representatives from several organizations held a press conference in Toronto Thursday morning, saying that removing the restriction is necessary to allow the tourism and business sectors to fully recover.
“Businesses are becoming more confident that we are past the need to rely on restrictive measures like lockdowns to manage the virus,” said Lindsay Broadhead, the senior vice-president of communications and public affairs at the Toronto Region Board of Trade.
“To realize the full opportunity, we must, where it is safe to do so, remove restrictions that are no longer needed. That’s why today, I join my friends from the Global Business Travel Association, American Express Global Business Travel, and Destination Toronto, to call on the federal government to help revise its travel policies so that Toronto’s tourism sector can get back on its feet.”
The groups want to see the federal government remove the pre-departure testing requirement for fully vaccinated travellers no later than April 1, which is when the regulations are set to be updated.
Currently, international travellers are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before their arrival to Canada. It can be a molecular test completed within 72 hours of a flight’s departure time or the traveller’s arrival to Canada by land or sea.
Travellers were also recently given the option of providing proof of a negative antigen test completed no more than one day before arrival to Canada.
If a person has tested positive for COVID-19 on a molecular test, proof of that test can also be used to enter the country no less than 10 days or more than 180 days before entering Canada.
“Travel and tourism are massive economic drivers in our province and many businesses in Toronto and across the country depend on international travellers, particularly business travellers,” Broadhead said.
“Many countries have recognized the time to remove COVID-19 restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers. To set the stage for a complete recovery, Canada needs to join jurisdictions like the United Kingdom and Switzerland in removing restrictions that are no longer needed.”
Broadhead noted that Canada is one of “the most vaccinated places in the world” and said that Canadians have supported “common-sense government measures” throughout the pandemic.
“The time has now come to reward those who have made many sacrifices to get where we are today,” she said.
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Patrick Doyle, the vice-president and general manager at American Express Global Business Travel, said the recent move by the federal government to allow rapid tests as an option for travellers was “progress,” but not enough.
“The switch to antigen testing has not had an impact on business travel bookings. In 2022, there is no scientific reason that justifies travel being singled out as the only activity requiring testing,” he said.
The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable said business travel in Canada in 2019 contributed $40 billion annually to the country’s economy and supported more than 600,000 jobs.
The organization said business travel today is at around 30 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
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“The current travel measures in place are a barrier to travel. These measures simply do not permit flexibility or schedule changes,” said Nancy Tudorache from the Global Business Travel Association.
“They add tremendous uncertainty, they hurt corporate productivity, create financial burdens for businesses looking to send their employees into Canada or returning back to Canada.”
Government will ‘continue to consider’ easing of restrictions
A spokesperson for Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada responded to the calls for the removal of the testing requirement in a statement sent to Global News Thursday afternoon.
“Like every other element of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 response, border measures are informed by available data, operational considerations, scientific evidence and monitoring of the epidemiological situation both in Canada and internationally,” Tammy Jarbeau said.
She noted that on Feb. 28, the government allowed the option of rapid antigen testing “to lessen travel impediments.”
“As vaccination levels and healthcare system capacity improve, the Government of Canada will continue to consider further easing of measures at the borders—and when to lift or adjust those measures—to keep people in Canada safe,” Jarbeau said.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Is Canada in a recession? StatCan’s early estimates are saying not yet
Early indicators from Statistics Canada on show the country’s economy is slowing but might not be in recession territory yet.
The agency released new gross domestic product (GDP) data on Tuesday, showing the economy grew at a rate of 0.1 per cent in November.
Early indications show that the country’s GDP was essentially unchanged for December.
Overall, StatCan said advance information suggests a 1.6 per cent annualized increase in GDP for the fourth quarter of the year and annual growth of 3.8 per cent in 2022.
Economic growth is expected to slow in response to higher interest rates, with many economists anticipating a mild recession this year. A recession is traditionally defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth.
“Overall, today’s data show that the Canadian economy continues to cool, but not as yet shift into reverse, in the face of rising interest rates,” said CIBC Senior Economist Andrew Grantham in a note to clients Tuesday.
The Bank of Canada has raised its key interest rate eight consecutive times since March, bringing it to 4.5 per cent, the highest it’s been since 2007.
After hiking interest rates last week, the central bank signalled it would take a pause to assess how higher interest rates are affecting inflation and the economy.
In November, growth in real domestic product was driven by the public sector, transportation and warehousing and finance and insurance.
Meanwhile, construction, retail and accommodation and food services contracted.
— with files from the Canadian Press
St-Onge urges provinces to accelerate efforts to make sports safer for athletes
Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge says ending abuse in sports will require complaints processes that include provincial-level athletes, not just national ones.
St-Onge and provincial sports ministers will meet during the Canada Games in mid-February where their agenda will include the ongoing effort to address widespread allegations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse in sports.
She says she asked the provincial ministers at an August meeting to look at joining the new federal sport integrity process or creating their own.
The national sports integrity commissioner can only investigate allegations of abuse from athletes at the national level.
But St-Onge says the vast majority of athletes aren’t in that category and only Quebec has its own sports integrity office capable of receiving and investigating complaints.
The national sport integrity office officially began its work last June and has since received 48 complaints from athletes.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2023.
Justice is a Privilege Reserved for the Few
History is full of examples showing us that Justice is a privilege reserved for the few, the wealthy, politically and financially connected, in fact, those of the right colour or race depending on where and when this justice was to be dealt with. Justice must be earnt, and it expends a colossal cost. What do I mean?
When a justice system demands proof of your innocence, while viewing the accused as guilty until that proof surfaces, the system of justice seems to be blind to all but those with the ability to hire known lawyers and a defense team to point out any misunderstandings that arise. A Black Man with many priors stands before a judge, accused of violent crimes. Will such a man have the ability to raise money to get out of jail and hire a powerful legal team? If he is a financially well-off man perhaps, but if he is an “Average Joe”, the justice system swallows him up, incarcerating him while he waits for his trial, and possible conviction. While the justice system is supposed to be blind to financial, sexist, and racial coding, the statistics show White men often walk, and Black-Hispanic and men of color often do not. Don’t think so?
America’s Justice system has a huge penal population, well into the millions of citizens in public and private prisons across the land. According to Scientific America, 71% of those imprisoned are not white. So do you think these men and women got there because of their choices or did the system help to decide that while whites can be either excused, rehabilitated or found not endangering the greater society, “the others” are threats to the nation’s security and population?
White privilege is still prevalent within our system, with financial privilege a close second.
The World was white, but now its really black(non-white)
Justice for all is never achieved, just verbatim.
What can justice do for the lowly man
while jails fill and are built anew continually?
When you are seen as an outsider always,
and the precious few escape societies’ hungry grasp.
Justice for all is the cry we all hear these days,
While the policeman stamps your future out at last.
Martin L says the Black Persons going to win this war,
and a war of attrition it truly has been.
Justice is a privileged and socially mobile thing,
leaving the many to pray to the spirit of Tyre Nichols,
asking what the hell can we do???
I walked through an airport recently with no problem and no questioning. Customs and border officers were busy getting into the face of many non-white travelers. To this very day, a non-white person flying anywhere with a long beard, and dressed like a Muslim could get you unwelcomed trouble. Being different will always create difficulties. Being out of your place in another financial-ethnic society will be a challenge. Race, financial and political privilege will forever be with us. The powerful will always be able to dance around the justice system’s rules and regulations. Why? Well, the justice system is an exclusive club, filled with lawyers and police. The administrators and enforcers of the system. Some other form of the judicial system is needed, with a firm root in community equality. Can our Justice System be truly blind to all influencers, but the laws of the land? Can victims of crime receive true justice, retribution in kind for the offenses carried out by criminals against them?
” In the final analysis, true justice is not a matter of courts and law books, but of a commitment in each of us to liberty and mutual respect”(Jimmy Carter). Mutual respect of all actors in the play known as the Justice System, influenced, manipulated, and written by lawyers and academics. God help us.
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