Ontario Calls on Federal Government to Implement Additional Requirements for International Travellers.
January 26, 2021, Premier Doug Ford and Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, visited Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to provide an update on Ontario’s COVID-19 border testing pilot program.
Premier Ford and Minister Elliott also called on the federal government to implement additional measures to protect Canada’s borders from new cases of COVID-19, including mandatory testing upon arrival for all incoming international passengers, and a temporary ban on direct flights from countries where new variants are detected.
Today, the Ontario government also announced an Economic Inclusion virtual roundtable in partnership with CivicAction, in order to bring together public, private, and non-profit sector organizations to enhance workplace opportunities for Indigenous, Black, and racialized employees. The intent of the discussion is to create digital tools and resources for employers, and to embed equity in Ontario’s COVID-19 recovery efforts.
The government also announced an investment of more than $2.3 million from the Ontario Together Fund to support McMaster University and the University of Toronto with the research, development, and testing of improved personal protective equipment (PPE) technology. The University of Toronto will receive approximately $1.12 million to support efficiency testing of N95, surgical, and procedure masks, increasing its capability to assist with the rapid development of new masks. McMaster University will receive approximately $1.21 million to work with Canadian manufacturers on designing, manufacturing, and testing PPE.
Furthermore, the government announced an investment of $5 million to support agricultural and horticultural societies impacted by the pandemic. The one-time initiative includes a $1.8 million Base Support funding stream to support continued delivery of agricultural and horticultural education, as well as a $3.2 million Hardship funding stream to offset operating losses, liabilities, and fixed overhead costs.
Update on Ontario COVID-19 Border Testing Pilot
This afternoon, Premier Ford and Minister Elliott provided an update on Ontario’s voluntary and free COVID-19 border testing pilot at Pearson Airport:
- To date, 6,800+ international travellers have been tested for COVID-19 through this program.
- For travellers that have received confirmed results, 146 (2.26%) have tested positive.
The federal government currently requires that all international travellers provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result prior to boarding a flight to Canada. The test must be conducted within 72 hours of the traveller’s scheduled time of departure for Canada.
Given the more than 2% positivity rate among international travellers tested thus far through the Pearson Airport pilot, Premier Ford and Minister Elliott are calling on the federal government to strengthen testing requirements for international travellers to Canada by mandating testing upon arrival, in addition to the pre-departure requirement.
Premier Ford and Minister Elliott are also calling on the federal government to temporarily ban direct flights from countries where new variants are detected, as well as for strengthened enforcement of quarantine measures through approaches such as isolation hotels to ensure compliance with the 14-day quarantine requirement.