Border restrictions 'punch to the gut' for those looking to move to N.S.

·5 min read
Families from Ontario and other provinces are left in limbo with new Nova Scotia restrictions stating no one can move into the province starting this Monday, until at least the end of the month. ( - image credit)
Families from Ontario and other provinces are left in limbo with new Nova Scotia restrictions stating no one can move into the province starting this Monday, until at least the end of the month. ( - image credit)

Andrew Turner and his wife, Karen MacRae, are surrounded by cardboard boxes as they pack up their home in Huntsville, Ont.

But they're not sure whether they'll be allowed to move into their new home in Nova Scotia as planned at the end of the month because of new lockdown measures announced on Friday.

They are moving to a small town outside of Halifax, to be closer to Turner's parents. The sale on their new place closed March 1, and the moving trucks are booked to bring their possessions to their new home at the end of May.

But on Friday, the province announced that as of Monday morning, the Nova Scotia border will be closed to anyone moving to the province, even if they were previously approved like the Turners.

"If you bought a house and are moving here, you'll have to wait," Premier Iain Rankin said during the provincial update Friday.

Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, said a new Safe Check-in Form for people looking to enter the province is expected to be ready by next Friday. These check-in forms are in place for anyone coming in from outside the province to outline their quarantine plan.

Strang added that anyone hoping to come into Nova Scotia after Monday would have to wait until that new check-in form is in place.

It's unclear what the new forms will look like, and whether any exemptions for people moving to Nova Scotia will be included.

Andrew Turner, (left, and wife Karen MacRae are moving from their Huntsville, Ont., home on May 31, but are unsure about how their situation applies to the latest Nova Scotia restrictions on people moving into the province.
Andrew Turner, (left, and wife Karen MacRae are moving from their Huntsville, Ont., home on May 31, but are unsure about how their situation applies to the latest Nova Scotia restrictions on people moving into the province.(Andrew Turner)

"Could you imagine showing up with your family and, like, your little car and then them going, 'Well, no, you can't get in.' You're like, 'Well, then what do we do?' Like, we literally don't have a home to go to," Turner said Saturday.

Strang said the tight border restrictions will be in place until at least the end of May. He also said he's aware people have been forging emails to get across the border that appear to come from Strang's office.

After Friday's announcement, Turner was sent an email from the province saying his original paperwork was cancelled and he'd need to fill out a new Nova Scotia Safe Check-in Form.

But when filling out the new paperwork Saturday morning, Turner found they fell within a provincial exemption, and would be allowed to move in, since they bought their house March 1.

Faced with contradictory information, Turner isn't clear what to do.

"I'm a Nova Scotian guy that just wants to move home, and I'm happy to sit in quarantine outside the province, at the border, or in our house which is what we made plans to do," Turner said.

"We need clarity, and I think that's what everybody's looking for — a very clear, definitive path to go from A to B."

The new restrictions come at a time when Nova Scotia is dealing with the highest daily cases of COVID-19 of the pandemic, mostly driven by aggressive variants of the virus, and more and more people being admitted to intensive care.

On Friday, a provincial high of 227 new cases was announced, as well as more than 200 other cases that have been identified but have not been fully processed by Public Health.

The province reported 163 new cases on Saturday, as well as the death of a man in his 70s in the central zone. There are now 1,538 active cases in the province.

Turner and others moving to Nova Scotia say they take the virus extremely seriously, are willing to follow the rules but need to know what to do.

Sarah Cowans is also worried about her family's upcoming move from Oakville, Ont., to the Halifax area.

Sarah Cowans, right, and her husband are worried about what to do when they're out of their home in Ontario on June 1, and are facing expensive options like renting in Ontario or isolating at a Nova Scotia hotel.
Sarah Cowans, right, and her husband are worried about what to do when they're out of their home in Ontario on June 1, and are facing expensive options like renting in Ontario or isolating at a Nova Scotia hotel.(Sarah Cowans)

She and her family have to be out of their current home on June 1, and were then planning to pack up their two young children, two dogs and the family's possessions and drive to Nova Scotia.

Cowans is also originally from Nova Scotia and has lots of family in the Halifax area. There is an empty family home available in Lawrencetown until they close on their new house for July 15.

But with Friday's announcement, Cowans said they're put into a "really awful position" with nowhere to go as of June 1.

"I'm pretty upset. I was pretty frustrated yesterday ... to find out that we may be turned away, or forced to kind of quarantine in a hotel was pretty much a punch to the gut," she said.

It's unclear right now whether the restrictions will still be in place by June.

If they risk driving anyway, Cowans said they could have to isolate in an approved quarantine spot like a hotel at their own expense, which is not ideal with animals, young kids and a truck full of furniture. Or they might have to rent in Ontario until things become clearer.

"Financially … it would be an impact on us. But also just … mentally and physically, we're already kind of in this limbo position," Cowans said.

The new restriction has also caught the eye of Ontario lawyer James Coulter.

In a letter to Rankin dated Saturday, Coulter said he's concerned about the province blocking out people who have the proper paperwork to show they own property in Nova Scotia.

"A 'blanket' restriction on travel for newcomers induced to change residency to Nova Scotia is patently unfair," Coulter wrote.

He also said the travel restrictions are non-compliant with every Canadian citizen's rights to mobility under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

CBC has reached out to the province for clarification on moving restrictions, and will update this story with any information.

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