Canada’s Travel Rules Punitive for Middle-Class Families – Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable
Mandatory pre-departure PCR testing for fully vaccinated Canadian travellers is proving prohibitively expensive for Canadian families
Travel & Tourism Roundtable calls on the federal government to remove the pre-departure PCR test and amend the discriminatory child policy for travelling minors
A Brief Foreword from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large –
As this coming Monday, November 8th approaches for re-opening border crossings to so-called “non-essential” Canadian travellers for the first time in more than a year and a half, we learn that community leaders in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, New York are preparing to hold a media event on the morning of the 8th, welcoming their Canadian neighbours back.
That welcoming event seems nice on the surface but political and business leaders on the American side may be in for a letdown because Canada’s federal government is continuing to insist that any Canadian returning to their home from a trip to, let’s say, Buffalo, is not only going to have to show they are fully vaccinated. They are also going to have to show that they have tested negative for COVID-19.
While the U.S. government is not imposing the same testing requirement for those crossing the border to its side, Americans crossing to Canada will also have to show that they have taken a test that clears them of carrying the virus.
So the question is this – How many people are going to cross the border for a day or two to go to a theatre or sports event, or to do a little shopping or go to the Anchor Bar for chicken wings, if they have to pay $200 per person or more to get a COVID test.
My answer to that question – and I admit it is just an educated guess – is not very many.
And please don’t get the wrong idea.
I am not convinced that Canada’s government is wrong to continue to insist on testing along with proof of full vaccination. With COVID-19 still very much in the air and more than 60 million Americans still refusing, for reasons I don’t comprehend, not to get vaccinated at all, being extra cautious around a virus that has already taken the lives of more than 750,000 people on this continent, may be a good idea.
Meanwhile, there are those on both sides of the border, including border city mayors like Jim Diodati in Niagara Falls, Ontario, who are arguing that the test requirement should be dropped. The following news release from a major Canadian body representing the tourist and travel industry outlines one the latest calls for putting the test requirement to bed.
Doug Draper, Niagara At Large
A News Release from the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable
Posted November 5th, 2021 on Niagara At Large
OTTAWA, ONTARTIO – The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable, speaking on behalf of families and the business community across Canada, are calling on the federal government to remove unnecessary and non-science-based obstacles to international travel, such as the pre-departure PCR test for fully vaccinated travellers, that disproportionately impact average Canadian families.
Further, the Roundtable is calling on the government to amend the discriminatory child policy for travelling minors.
For the average Canadian family, travel is becoming increasingly difficult. The burdensome cost of a PCR test can add over $200 per person or an additional $800 for a family of four for a round trip cross-border flight.
This fee is proving cost-prohibitive to many Canadian families. Unvaccinated minors travelling with their fully vaccinated parents are also unable to attend school, daycare and camp for two weeks after travel, potentially adding the cost of two additional weeks of private childcare, adding to the disincentive to travel. Until a vaccine for minors under 12 is approved, children should return to school using testing, not quarantine.
These policies were intended to be temporary and run counter to the recommendations made by the federal government’s COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel Report (“The Expert Panel”) in May of this year.
Many countries have recognized that easing restrictions for unvaccinated children is low risk, and they, therefore, exempt unvaccinated children travelling with fully vaccinated adults from any quarantine. For example:
In France, the measures applicable to vaccinated adults also apply to any minors accompanying them, regardless of vaccination.
In the United Kingdom, rules for fully vaccinated people also apply to travellers under 18 who reside in the UK or one of the listed countries with approved vaccination programs.
France, Portugal, Germany and the United Kingdom also recognize that requiring pre-departure and arrival tests for vaccinated travellers is redundant and have exempted fully vaccinated travellers from pre-departure testing requirements.
Although many had travel bookings lined up over the November-December period, the travel and tourism industry is bracing for cancellations, with Canadian families looking to either cancel or delay long-awaited winter trips and family visits.
The pandemic, vaccination status, and available science have changed; so too should the response and measures to keep Canadians safe while allowing the travel and tourism industry to re-open.
“Canadian families deserve to be treated equally when travelling. In France and the United Kingdom, children can travel with their fully vaccinated parents, making travel to see family and friends more accessible to the middle class. Many other countries have implemented science-based policies, including the exemption of fully vaccinated travellers from testing requirements. Canada should follow suit.” – Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce
“The pandemic took a real toll on our family. We have been looking forward to bringing our children to visit family members across the border. We’ve done our part. My wife and I got vaccinated. But it is almost impossible for us to do this. The cost of the PCR test adds almost an additional $1000 to our trip, and then our kids can’t go to school for two weeks, resulting in additional childcare costs. We need the government to change the rules so we can see our loved ones again.” – David Schwartz, Ottawa based Father of two
“The PCR test is a major barrier for middle-class families hoping to travel across the border. The result is that families simply aren’t travelling. The cost and inconvenience is too high, and until the federal government takes action to reduce the obstacles to travel, small Canadian tourism businesses like mine will not be able to recover fully.” – Sheila Gallant-Halloran, Owner, Lush Life Travel
About the Canadian Tourism Roundtable – The Canadian Tourism Roundtable is a cross-Canadian coalition of leaders in the tourism and travel sector – including representatives from airports, airlines, hotels, and chambers of commerce across the country – committed to working together to restart the sector smoothly and safely. Travel and Tourism is a $102 billion sector, employing millions of Canadians across the country and accounting for 2.1% of the country’s gross domestic product. It advocates for a safe and prosperous tourism and travel sector across Canada.
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