January 6, 2021, Premier Doug Ford and Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, announced the launch of a border testing pilot program at Toronto Pearson International Airport. The program will begin today, and will enable eligible international travellers to receive a free and voluntary COVID-19 test at Pearson Airport. The testing program is idented to quickly identify new cases of COVID-19 and further prevent the spread of the virus in Canada.
Premier Ford and Minister Elliott were joined by Solicitor General, Sylvia Jones. Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford, Minister Elliott, and Minister Jones responded to questions from media.
Launch of Pearson Airport COVID-19 Testing Program
This afternoon, Premier Ford and Minister Elliott announced the launch of a COVID-19 testing pilot program for eligible international travellers to Ontario at Toronto Pearson International Airport.
Eligible travellers include anyone arriving from an international destination and staying in Ontario for at least 14 days. Testing will be free and voluntary, and travellers will be able to pre-register at torontopearson.com/testing when they arrive at the airport. Tests will be self-administered and supervised either remotely or in-person by a health care provider. Results will be reported into Ontario’s Lab Information System within 48 hours and local public health units will follow up on positive test results.
Regardless of test result, all international travellers will continue to be required to quarantine for 14 days after arriving or returning to Canada. According to Premier Ford and Minister Elliott, Ontario is “actively working with the federal government” to enhance the pilot program, and the next stage of the program will involve a modified quarantine period for travellers who receive a negative test result.
Today’s announcement recognizes the increased risk that international travellers may pose for bringing COVID-19 into Canada, including the risk of spreading the new COVID-19 variant detected in the UK.
Questions from Media – Response to COVID-19
Ontario Case Numbers
In response to questions about record numbers of daily new cases of COVID-19, Premier Ford reassured reporters that the province is working on accelerating the rollout of vaccinations, and called on the federal government to send more vaccines to Ontario.
Addressing reports that Quebec will announce more restrictive lockdown measures this evening, Premier Ford indicated that he plans to have a conversation with Quebec Premier François Legault this evening. Premier Ford noted that he would also discuss the possible need for further restrictions in Ontario with the provincial health table and Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams.
Ontario School Reopening
When asked whether Ontario would consider delaying the reopening of schools, many of which are currently scheduled to reopen on January 11, Premier Ford responded that the government is seeking the advice of Dr. Williams and the provincial health table. He added that an announcement will be made in coming days.
Vaccination of Inmates
In response to questions about how Ontario would prioritize the vaccination of provincial inmates, Minister Jones reiterated that the province’s current priority is vaccinating residents, staff, and volunteers in long-term care facilities. She added that, as vaccination efforts continue, congregate settings such as group homes and corrections facilities will be added to the queue.