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The Hill Update - March 25

It has now been over one year since we have been in the pandemic stage. All levels of government have flip-flopped on a number of issues, including what is considered essential travel. Dean speaks with two individual who have experienced frustrations with the current restrictions.

This past week, we reached a somber milestone of the pandemic –- it has been one year since the restrictions and lockdowns began.

COVID has negatively affected many aspects of our lives, not just our health, but also our tolerance for the government’s intervention in our civil liberties. While initially, some measures were quickly put in place, there seemed to be a arbitrary reasoning behind them.

The pandemic was here and it affected everyone of us. As time moved forward, there was flip flopping on some issues – from no need to wear a mask to mandatory that you wear a mask, from it can be spread on surfaces to it was spread by airborne droplets. And to make it even more confusing, there was no continuity between provinces, or even between regions, including lockdowns and constantly changing restrictions.

There are many people have to travel internationally for work. And the work they perform is indeed essential. Yet since this new policy was announced in February, some individuals are now being told that their travel is NOT essential and that they would need to quarantine for the 14 days.

For this reason, Just this week, the Conservatives called on the Prime Minister and the government to present a clear, data-driven plan to support the gradual, safe, and permanently lifting of COVID-19 restrictions that will allow Canadians’ lives to return to normal.

While it may indeed be a “new” normal, returning to normal is something that everyone is looking forward to, especially individuals who are required to travel as part of their job.

As of February 21, Justin Trudeau implemented further restrictions for travel. Individuals returning to Canada have had to obtain a negative PCR test 72 hours prior to entering Canada and a 14 day quarantine at home. And for those returning by air there were additional restrictions including another test upon arrival and a mandatory quarantine in a government approved hotel until a negative result was returned. At that time, you are required to complete a 14 day quarantine at home.

These hotels can cost up to 3500 dollars per person.

This was a harsh and unprecedented policy implemented by the Liberal government. There is no proof that mandatory hotel quarantines are more effective than waiting for test results and quarantining at home.

Shortly after this policy was implemented, there were reports of sexual assault and abuse at these facilities, prompting Conservative MPs to call for the suspension of the program. The liberal government says they are looking into the matter but that the quarantine hotels will continue.

Mandatory hotel quarantines aren’t the only issue for travelers.

We’ve also heard stories of people arriving at the border, only to be told that their travel is not considered essential nor are they considered “essential workers”.

There are many people have to travel internationally for work. And the work they perform is indeed essential. Yet since this new policy was announced in February, some individuals are now being told that their travel is NOT essential and that they would need to quarantine for the 14 days.

Why the sudden and arbitrary decision that these individuals are no longer considered essential.

Apparently, their travel frequency is not enough to be considered essential, therefore they’re not exempt from COVID testing prior to and upon arrival in Canada.

While the government has published a list of what is considered Essential Services and Functions, the definition of essential travel is unclear.

Let’s use crossing between the United States and Canada as an example.

The Canada-US border is the longest land border in the world and the majority of our population lives within a short drive of a border crossing so it makes sense that there are a lot of people going back and forth – sometimes daily – either for work or to conduct business. Because many people fall into this category, the government has put exemptions in place for certain individuals from travel restrictions.

One of the exceptions for those arriving by land and air is the following:

[Exempt is] A person who must enter Canada regularly to go to their normal place of employment or to return from their normal place of employment in the United States.

What is the definition of regularly? Is it every day? Once a week? Once in two weeks? It’s not clear and apparently is left at the discretion of Canada Border Services personnel.

This is an area that the government needs to address to prevent further confusion that has adversely affected many essential travelers, and in turn their employers and businesses.

On this show, I have two guests who have experienced this discriminatory policy firsthand.

Tom Beach is the President of Handling Specialty. This company provides unique, custom-engineered material handling and industrial automation solutions to companies around the world. They serve industries in many sectors including: aerospace and defence, automotive, entertainment, rail/transportation, energy, process industries and advanced manufacturing industries.

Ron Rousse is the president of Roumann Construction. His company has offices in both Ontario and Michigan. Ron is closely involved with each project and has over-sight from ground breaking to project completion.

As companies that provide essential services on both sides of the border, employees of Handling Specialty and Roumann Construction are often required to travel internationally in order to inspect, install and service critical equipment, yet that is not always the case.

To view the entire show click here

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