February 26, 2021

Mandatory hotel isolation harms low-income Canadians: lawyer

OTTAWA – The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has questioned Ottawa’s move to require hotel isolation for international travelers, saying it would harm low-income Canadians and violate citizens’ mobile rights.

Cara Sweeble, head of the organization’s Fundamental Freedom Program, calls on the federal government to produce any evidence that returning travelers are violating the current requirement for self-isolation at home, which is the only reasonable basis for tightening the rules.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced two weeks ago that travelers returning from overseas would have to be isolated in a federal compulsory hotel for up to three days at their own expense, although he acknowledged that only part of the COVID-19 cases would appear from overseas trips.

Sweeble advises that low-income Canadians who have to care for sick relatives or seek specialized medical care abroad – spending 2,000 or more – may be barred.

Isolation in a hotel is another concern for health conditions that can be particularly challenging.

In a letter to Canada’s Minister of Transport and Attorney General, Ottawa urges caring for isolated exemptions and fare concessions for Canadians overseas, or overseas, especially those in short-term financial crisis.

“For these individuals, travel is not a luxury,” Swiebel says in the letter.

“The government’s definition of what constitutes ‘essential travel’ will be important for these purposes.”

Ottawa has not announced when compulsory hotel isolation will take effect, which is one of several measures to prevent the spread of the virus across the border and prevent unnecessary travel.

On January 29, Trudeau announced that Canadian airlines had suspended flights to Mexico and the Caribbean until April 30. Residents who choose to fly overseas must now provide a negative COVID-19 test result less than 72 hours before returning to their home soil.

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According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, about two percent of cases with “known exposure” are linked to international travel, and even smaller rates in recent weeks. However, there is still no test at the border and no evidence identified in several recent cases.

Article 6 of the Charter of Rights and Liberation states that “every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, stay and leave Canada”, but all rights are subject to reasonable limits.

This report of the Canadian edition was first published on February 8, 2021.

The Canadian Press