Canada’s COVID-19 border rules are not to blame: Travel didn't cause third wave, Premier Doug Ford ‘deflecting again’, critics say

·4 min read
MISSISSAUGA CANADA, Feb. 22, 2021 -- Travelers wait for a shuttle bus to a government-designated hotel at Toronto International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, on Feb. 22, 2021. Starting from Monday, travelers arriving in Canada by air are required to take a COVID-19 molecular test before they exit the airport. They are also required to quarantine for three days at a government-designated hotel at their own expense until they get a result. (Photo by Zou Zheng/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Zou Zheng via Getty Images)

The federal government keeps pushing back against Ontario Premier Doug Ford's continued claim that the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was "fuelled almost entirely" by weak federal border measures.

"This [third] wave has been fuelled almost entirely by variants that passed too easily through our borders. Right now, we have people easily exploiting well-known loopholes that have been left in place," a tweet from the premier on Tuesday reads.

He went on to call on the federal government to require pre-departure COVID-19 testing for all domestic travellers, in addition to the pre-departure and arrival testing requirements already in place for international travellers.

Premier Doug Ford's COVID-19 transmission theory shut down

"The third wave of COVID-19 is a direct result of community transmission," a statement from Dominic LeBlanc, President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs reads. 

"Ontario Public Health data demonstrates that less than one per cent of transmission is a result of international travel. Sound public health measures such as asymptomatic testing at essential work places, provincially mandated sick days, and increased vaccination focus in hot spots are all necessary to ending this wave."

At a press conference last week, Ford said he has sent four letters to the federal government called for stricter rules for individuals coming into Ontario, including hotel quarantine for travellers through land borders.

"There’s two things Justin Trudeau's responsible for, two things only throughout this whole pandemic," Ford said on May 13. "Make sure we have enough vaccines, and we saw what happened there, now we’re getting a few more vaccines, which is good… And to make sure we secure the borders, and it’s just not happening."

"My riding is right over the airport and all I hear is those planes just constantly coming in. Every time I look up I think, how many more variants are coming in?"

In his statement LeBlanc identified that 57.7 per cent of foreign nationals coming into Canada essential workers, such as health care and supply chain workers, 22 per cent are students, 14.6 per cent are coming for family reunification purposes and 5.9 per cent for immigration.

"If Ontario would like to see further restrictions, the provincial government needs to specify which of these groups they would wish to restrict further and make a request formally," LeBlanc states.

"We always welcome the opportunity to discuss how we can work together. We have provided Ontario with extra polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing capabilities through the Safe Restart Agreement. Ontario is also within their jurisdiction to institute domestic travel quarantine."

Federal government data states that there has been a 96 per cent reduction in air traffic and a 90 per cent reduction in non-commercial land traffic into Canada, compared to pre-COVID-19 volumes. It has also been reported that under two per cent of international travellers are found to be positive with COVID-19.

In response to Ford's tweets on Tuesday, many Twitter users weren't so convinced that travel has fuelled the third wave of the pandemic, or that the premier needs federal action.

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