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The rapidly evolving travel bans, restrictions, and policies have made it increasingly difficult to keep up-to-date with the requirements of travelling to Canada from abroad. While travelling to Canada on a temporary or permanent basis involves many considerations, the challenges and steps required to obtain status and travel to Canada have been amplified by COVID-19.

Accordingly, the team at Sultan Lawyers has prepared a simple and easy-to-reference outline of the current travel requirements in place for foreign nationals (as of the date of publication) who are permitted entry to Canada under the current restrictions, including for the purposes of work and employment-related matters.

Please note that the requirements referenced in this blog were in force at the time this blog was published.

1. PRE-BOARD COVID-19 TEST

As of January 7, 2021, all individuals (i.e., temporary foreign workers, etc.) travelling by air who are five (5) years of age or older are now required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result to the airline prior to boarding an international flight to Canada.

The test provided to airline officials must be taken within 72 hours of the scheduled flight.

The two acceptable tests to provide to airline officials are:

  • Polymerase chain reaction (“PCR”); or
  • Reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (“RT-LAMP”).

Once a negative COVID-19 test result is obtained, the individual must present either paper or electronic proof of the negative test result to the airline prior to travelling to Canada.

The test result must include the following information:

  • The name and date of birth of the traveller;
  • The name and civic address of the laboratory/clinic/facility where the COVID-19 test was administered;
  • The date on which the test was conducted;
  • The test method (i.e., PCR OR RT-LAMP); and
  • The test result (i.e., negative or positive)

2. HEALTH CHECK

Travellers flying to and within Canada will be subject to a health check prior to boarding their flight.

Travellers will not be allowed to board if any of the following occur:

  • They are showing any symptoms of the COVID-19 virus;
  • They have been refused boarding in the past 14 days due to a medical reason related to COVID-19; or
  • They are subject to a provincial or local public health order.

Please note that all air travellers must wear a non-medical face mask or face covering while travelling, except for:

  • Children under two (2) years old;
  • Individuals who are unable to remove the face mask or covering without assistance; and
  • Individuals who provide a medical certificate certifying that they are unable to wear a face mask or covering related to a medical condition.

3. DOWNLOAD AND USE THE ARRIVECAN APP

Travellers flying to Canada as the final destination are now required to use the ArriveCan app to submit the following:

  • Travel and contact information;
  • Quarantine plan (unless exempted from the mandatory requirement to quarantine); and
  • Self-assessments for symptoms of COVID-19.

Travellers must use the ArriveCAN app prior to boarding their flight to submit the above information in order to be eligible to travel to Canada.

Once the information has been submitted through ArriveCAN, a receipt will be displayed, and the traveller will be required to show the receipt to a Canadian border services officer upon entering Canada. Please note that travellers can show the ArriveCAN receipt directly from the app as a screenshot or alternatively, as a printout.

4. QUARANTINE

Everyone entering Canada must abide by the current policy to quarantine or isolate for 14 days upon entry, regardless of whether the traveller is displaying symptoms of the COVID-19 virus.

Once travellers enter Canada, they must go directly to the place of quarantine without delay and remain there for 14 days from the date they arrived in Canada. Travellers must wear a face mask or face covering while in transit to their quarantine destination, and practice physical distancing at all times.

Travellers must demonstrate they have an adequate plan to quarantine prior to travelling. Without an adequate plan to quarantine, foreign nationals may be denied entry to Canada.

An adequate plan to quarantine includes, but is not limited to, having a suitable place to quarantine where the traveller can:

  • Reside for 14 days, or possibly longer; and
  • Access necessities, including water, food, medication and heat, without leaving the place of quarantine.

All travellers must report daily after their entry to Canada. Travellers must report the following:

  • Confirm arrival at the address provided for in the quarantine or isolation plan on the ArriveCAN app within 48 hours of entry into Canada; and
  • Complete a daily self-assessment for COVID-19 symptoms until the completion of the quarantine period or until symptoms are reported.

If travellers do not complete the daily reports once they have entered Canada, they may receive phone calls or public health follow-ups.

Furthermore, if your place of quarantine includes sharing a household with others who have not also travelled, we recommend that you take additional protective measures, including the following:

  • Staying in separate rooms;
  • Using a separate bathroom;
  • Keeping surfaces clean;
  • Avoiding sharing personal items; and
  • Limiting interactions with others in the household during the quarantine period.

Employment Protection and Quarantine

In addition to the above, employment laws in most cases protect workers who are subject to restrictions relating to COVID-19.

Specifically, federal and provincial laws in many cases provide workers with the right to maintain their employment during the quarantine period. Specifically, if an employer refuses to permit an employee to return to the workplace once they obtain clearance to do so, the worker may have grounds to bring an employment standards and/or wrongful dismissal claim.

Further, while there are some exceptions to the requirement to quarantine, including for employees who are deemed to be working in essential sectors, we encourage all travellers to review the exemptions carefully and to consider reaching out to the experienced employment and immigration counsel at Sultan Lawyers, to determine their eligibility to forego the quarantine period.

We also strongly urge employees who feel they have been punished (i.e. fired) for travelling abroad (i.e. for vacation) to reach out to counsel for advice. We recommend this because, depending on the facts, you may be in a position to secure protection and/or pursue an action relating to employment or human rights laws. As we know, current government directives are to avoid all non-essential travel, and therefore any action taken by your employer should be reviewed by counsel to confirm whether or not you have a right of recourse.

As employment and workplace immigration lawyers, we consistently help both employers and foreign nationals transferring to Canada, including navigating the challenges posed by COVID-19.

If you have any questions relating to travel to Canada during COVID-19, including whether you are exempted from the requirement to quarantine, or whether you are interested in securing temporary or permanent residence in Canada, please contact Toronto employment and immigration lawyers, Sultan Lawyers, at 416-214-5111 or via email at mlahert@sultanlawyers.com.


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