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Statement - Minister LeBlanc addresses questions about border restrictions

·3 min read

MONCTON, NB, May 18, 2021 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, issued the following statement:

"Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Government of Canada has acted swiftly based on evidence to protect Canadians. More than a year ago, our government took the unprecedented step of prohibiting non-essential travel into Canada. The Government of Canada's measures have resulted in a 96% reduction in air traffic and 90% reduction in non-commercial land traffic into Canada, when compared to pre-pandemic volumes.

"The third wave of COVID-19 is a direct result of community transmission. Ontario Public Health data demonstrates that less than 1% of transmission is a result of international travel. Sound public health measures such as asymptomatic testing at essential work places, provincially mandated sick days, and increased vaccination focus in hot spots are all necessary to ending this wave.

"As stated at the First Ministers' Meeting on April 29, 2021, and in a letter dated May 7, 2021, our government is prepared to discuss specific requests.

"The Government of Canada has imposed some of the strictest international border measures. On April 22, 2021, we suspended direct flights from India and Pakistan due to high positivity rates, and changed testing requirements for anyone flying indirectly from those countries.

"Breaking down the small percentage of foreign nationals actually entering Canada demonstrates essential workers, such as health care and supply chain workers (57.7%), students (22%), family reunification (14.6%), and immigration (5.9%). If Ontario would like to see further restrictions, the provincial government needs to specify which of these groups they would wish to restrict further and make a request formally.

"We always welcome the opportunity to discuss how we can work together. We have provided Ontario with extra polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing capabilities through the Safe Restart Agreement. Ontario is also within their jurisdiction to institute domestic travel quarantine. As we have seen in other jurisdictions, it is an effective public health measure. We continue to stand ready to support the Government of Ontario should they introduce additional measures within their jurisdiction.

"The majority of individuals crossing at the land ports of entry are essential service providers, such as truck drivers and nurses. While air travellers arrive at four international airports, there are 117 different land points of entry. Further, unless exempt, those who travel by land are fully screened on entry as required under the Quarantine Act, and are subject to all other public health measures and requirements including the submission of mandatory information via ArriveCAN, pre and post-border testing and mandatory quarantine (or isolation). In land mode, over 99% of travellers entering Canada since February 22, 2021, either complied with the pre-arrival testing requirement or were exempt from this requirement. The Government of Canada regularly follows up with travellers to ensure compliance, and local law enforcement is responsible for cases of non-compliance. We strongly encourage the Province of Ontario to work with us to enforce these rules.

"We are focused on effective measures to get Canadians through this pandemic. Let's work together in the best interest of all Ontarians and Canadians."

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SOURCE Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs


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