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

Kelowna Rockets face off against the Vancouver Giants at Prospera Place, Kelowna, on January 26, 2020. (Marissa Baecker/Kelowna Rockets)
‘Joy for the players’; Kelowna Rockets staff react to season restart

WHL players set to arrive in Kelowna, Kamloops March 13 to begin 48-day, 24-game season

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

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

The KLO Community Policing Office is located within the Regional District of Central Okanagan building on KLO Road. (File)
Kelowna council to consider closure of KLO Community Policing Office

Since May 2020, the office has been effectively closed, with duties absorbed into the Kelowna Police Services Building

A Kelowna Chamber of Commerce event in 2017. (Contributed)
Kelowna Chamber announces new board of directors

Directors will be ratified at the annual general meeting on March 23

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

Riverside Centre includes a theatre hosting local plays, visiting musicians and dance troupes. It is also used for community events such as public meetings and fundraisers. Photo Town of Princeton
COVID-19 numbers provided by Interior Health show Salmon Arm and Revelstoke in the 200-plus range from January 2020 to February 2021 while Vernon, with a larger population, tallied more than 600 over the 14 months. (BC Centre for Disease Control map)
14 months of COVID-19 data show Kamloops cases doubling Vernon’s

Jan. 1, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021: 605 cases reported for Vernon, 243 for Salmon Arm, 1,246 for Kamloops

Penticton Fire Department pulled a kayaker from Okanagan Lake on Wednesday after he had fallen out of his boat and called 911. The man was taken to the hospital for treatment. (Western News - File)
Kayaker rescued from Okanagan Lake after falling in and calling 911

The Penticton Fire Department’s Marine Rescue pulled him out suffering from severe cold

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce’s general manager Dan Proulx, left, hosted a virtual Official Opposition town hall meeting with Shadow Cabinet Minister Small Business Pat Kelly, right, and North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold March 3, 2021. (Screenshot)
Tourism key to business recovery in North Okanagan-Shuswap: MP

Easing travel restrictions, limiting taxation and debt management critical to COVID-19 economic recovery

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

Thomas Kruger-Allen is expected to be sentenced Friday, March 5, 2021.
Sentencing expected Friday for 2019 Penticton beach attack

Defense wants 12 to 18 months for beach assaults that left one of his victims with brain injury

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

Most Read