The airport hotel is shown as people walk outside with their luggage at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on February 2, 2021. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is questioning Ottawa’s move to require hotel quarantines for international travellers, saying it may harm lower-income Canadians and infringe on citizens’ mobility rights. Cara Zwibel, a lawyer who heads the organization’s fundamental freedoms program, is calling on the federal government to produce any evidence Canadians are breaching their self-isolation at home — the current requirement for returning passengers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

The airport hotel is shown as people walk outside with their luggage at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on February 2, 2021. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is questioning Ottawa’s move to require hotel quarantines for international travellers, saying it may harm lower-income Canadians and infringe on citizens’ mobility rights. Cara Zwibel, a lawyer who heads the organization’s fundamental freedoms program, is calling on the federal government to produce any evidence Canadians are breaching their self-isolation at home — the current requirement for returning passengers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Mandatory hotel quarantines could harm lower-income Canadians: Lawyer

Health conditions that would make isolating in a hotel particularly challenging are another concern

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is questioning Ottawa’s move to require hotel quarantines for international travellers, saying it may harm lower-income Canadians and infringe on citizens’ mobility rights.

Cara Zwibel, a lawyer who heads the organization’s fundamental freedoms program, is calling on the federal government to produce any evidence that returning passengers are breaching the current requirement to self-isolate at home, which she suggests is the only fair basis to toughen the rules.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced more than two weeks ago that travellers flying back from abroad will have to quarantine at a federally mandated hotel for up to three days at their own expense, though he acknowledged that only a fraction of COVID-19 cases appear to stem from overseas trips.

Zwibel suggests that the cost — $2,000 or more, according to the government — could be prohibitive for lower-income Canadians who need to care for sick relatives or receive specialized medical care abroad.

Health conditions that would make isolating in a hotel particularly challenging are another concern.

In a letter to Canada’s transport minister and attorney general, the civil liberties association is demanding Ottawa carve out quarantine exemptions and fee waivers for Canadians who seek to look after loved ones or receive treatment overseas, particularly people in narrow financial straits.

“For these individuals, travel is not a luxury,” Zwibel says in the letter.

“The government’s definition of what constitutes ‘essential travel’ for these purposes will be important.”

Ottawa has not announced when mandatory hotel quarantines will come into effect, one of several measures aimed at choking off viral spread at the border and deterring non-essential travel.

Trudeau announced on Jan. 29 that Canadian airlines had suspended flights to Mexico and the Caribbean until April 30. Residents who do choose to fly abroad now have to furnish negative COVID-19 test results less than 72 hours before departure back to home soil.

Roughly two per cent of cases with “known exposure” have been linked to international travel, and an even smaller proportion in recent weeks, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. However, there is still virtually no testing at the border and many recent cases do not have an identified source.

Section 6 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that “every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada,” though all rights are subject to reasonable limits.

ALSO READ: Canada’s sluggish COVID-19 vaccination program won’t get better this week

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File photo
Castlegar sees spike in crime over winter

Local RCMP report increase in calls

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

Kirk Duff is running for mayor in the upcoming Castlegar byelection Photo: Submitted
Third candidate enters Castlegar mayor’s race

Kirk Duff previously served 18 years as a city councillor

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

The Kaslo Outdoor Recreation and Trail Society will build a trail on Mount Buchanan, seen here with society secretary Stuart Heard, with support from Columbia Basin Trust. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay trails receive Columbia Basin Trust funding

Several locations in the West Kootenay are undergoing upgrades

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second death reported in Kelowna General Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

A total of seven cases have been identified at the hospital: six patients and one staff

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Most Read