National Post (National Edition)

Hotel quarantine violates mobility rights: group



OTTAWA • 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 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.”

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.

Ottawa has not said 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.

 ?? THE CANADIAN PRESS ?? Ottawa has not said when mandatory hotel quarantine for travellers returning to Canada will
come into effect.
THE CANADIAN PRESS Ottawa has not said when mandatory hotel quarantine for travellers returning to Canada will come into effect.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada