Please see below the most recent updates on the federal and provincial governments’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic
- The Federal Government is imposing new regulations designed to convince Canadians to stay at home during the coming spring break holiday. Four airlines that fly from Canada to the Caribbean and Mexico have agreed to cancel all flights to those destinations beginning Sunday. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlined the new regulations and the cancellation decision by Air Canada, Westjet, Sunwing and Air Transat at his press conference today. These measures will be in effect until April 30.
- Travelers arriving from outside of the country will now be funnelled through the four biggest airports in the country: Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. They will given PCR tests at the airports, and then forced to isolate for three days at pre-designated hotels, at a approximate cost of $2,000 a person. Those who test negative will then be allowed to leave and quarantine for the mandatory fourteen days at their residences. Positive testers will be taken to designated government facilities for determination of their cases.
- In addition, people arriving at the land border from the United States will now also undergo PCR Covid tests. The border has been closed to all but essential traffic since March 31 last year, but all Canadians are allowed re-entry to the country. Until now there was no requirement for testing.
- Trudeau also said he had spoken with the President of the European Union, Ursala von der Leyan, who assured him that restrictions on the export of COVID vaccines made in Europe would not apply to Canada. The vaccine made by Pfizer is the main vaccine used in Canada and it is manufactured in Belgium. This week, no doses of the Pfizer vaccine were received in Canada, and a reduced quantity will be delivered next week. Doses of the vaccine from Moderna, which is Canada’s second approved vaccine, have also been scaled back. However, Trudeau said he had been reassured by both companies that each will fulfill its vaccine commitment to deliver six million doses between them by the end of March.
- Trudeau also announced that Ottawa has reached agreement with the Provinces and Territories to deliver another $1 Billion to the Safe Return program committed to reopening and keeping schools open around the country.
- Today, Premier Ford discussed the importance of protecting Ontarians against new, more dangerous variants of COVID-19. The Premier applauded the federal government on the measures that they announced. However, because those measures don’t take effect for a few weeks the Premier announced today that the province will being mandatory testing for all international arrivals effective Monday. He also said that he will work to have testing in place at land border crossings. Both of these are stop-gap measures until the federal program is in place.
- The new testing was the first point in a six point plan the government announced today. The other five points are:
- Enhanced Screening and Sequencing – this includes ramping up lab capacity to screen all positive COVID-19 tests in Ontario for known variants.
- Maintain Public Health Measures
- Strengthen Case and Contact Management
- Enhancing Protection for Vulnerable Populations – this includes accelerated vaccinations and the expansion of rapid testing in priority settings.
- Leveraging Data – this includes the establishment of a genomics database and real time analytics dashboard.
- The Premier was asked how much the ticket will be if people refuse a test, and what kind of tests are going to be at the land border. The Solicitor General said that the ticket for not taking a test is $750. The Province is still determining the logistics and types of tests that will be necessary for land border crossing.
- The Premier confirmed that the government will use rapid tests for the enhanced testing protocols in schools, and he encouraged large manufacturers and other essential businesses to do that same.
- Dr. Williams responded to a question about double masking (recommended by Dr. Fauci in response to the new variant) by saying that the government is not in the position to recommend double masking at this point, but they are working with public health officials to review the guidance.
- Dr. Williams was also asked if the 1,000 case threshold for reopening the economy still holds given the new variant. He said that they need to see what the impacts of the new variants are with respect to ICU capacity before making any modifications.
Executive Secretary Treasurer
IBEW Construction Council of Ontario