Although Canada’s borders have been shut to non-essential foreign nationals since March, citizens and permanent residents who travel abroad cannot be banned from returning. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Feds have spent more than $37M on quarantining returning travellers since pandemic began

Although foreign nationals are largely banned from entering, Canadians have the right to return

The federal government has spent more than $37 million on quarantining travellers returning from abroad, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

According the PHAC, as of July 29 there have been 2,306 returning travellers who have needed to quarantine at one of 11 federal sites across the country. The agency said using the sites is the “last resort” and travellers are expected to make their own quarantine arrangements in advance.

“Travellers who are unable to quarantine in their own place of residence should consider alternatives within their financial means such as booking a hotel/motel room or other paid housing alternative, or staying with friends or family,” PHAC said in a statement. “In cases where it is deemed necessary by a PHAC officer… travellers may be sent to a federally designated quarantine facility.”

Although Canada’s borders have been shut to non-essential foreign nationals since March, citizens and permanent residents who travel abroad cannot be banned from returning. According to the Canada Border Services Agency, 551,201 Canadian citizens and permanent residents returned to the country between March 21 and Aug. 16.

As of March 25, quarantining for 14 days has been mandatory for all returning travellers. Those who break quarantine rules can be fined up to $750,000 or imprisoned for six months. Anyone who causes a “risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person” while violating quarantine rules can be fined up to $1 million or imprisoned for up to three years.

The $37.1 million that the feds have spent on quarantine travellers from April 1 to July 29 have been split between 11 sites in Whitehorse, Vancouver, Kelowna, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, Fredericton, Halifax and St. John’s.

Quarantined travellers received three meals a day and other “essential items.” As of Aug. 15, there are currently 245 travellers in federal sites: 20 in Vancouver, 15 in Calgary, eight in Winnipeg, 154 in Toronto, 44 in Montreal, two in Halifax and two in Fredericton.

As of Thursday (Aug. 20) afternoon, there are more than 123,490 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, and 9,049 deaths. Non-essential travellers from the U.S. remain banned until Sept. 21, while the order banning non-U.S. foreign nationals is currently set to expire Aug. 31.

READ MORE: Kentucky man faces $750K fine for breaking Canadian quarantine rules in Alberta Rockies

READ MORE: Feds to allow immediate family to reunite in Canada, but quarantine still stands

READ MORE: Canada now mandating all returning travellers to quarantine

READ MORE: Canadians can travel to Hawaii in September; no quarantine with negative COVID test


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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

UPDATED: Red Deer has nine active COVID-19 cases

Number of cases increased by 107 Friday

“My world exploded,” says Bentley-area farmer who’s swather was struck by a motorist

Dennis Duncan was a mile from home when his swather was struck by another travelling at high speeds

Man sentenced to 7 years for gas-and-dash death of Alberta gas station owner

Ki Yun Jo was killed after Mitchell Sydlowski sped off in a stolen cube van without paying for $198 of fuel

New owners of Sylvan Lake Canadian Tire looking to be big part of the community

Randy and Alison Patton are the new owners of Sylvan Lake Canadian Tire

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Six injured, man in custody following BB gun incident in Alberta, RCMP say

Airdrie’s downtown core was told to shelter-in-place, while others nearby were asked to stay inside

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Wetaskiwin RCMP make arrests for Hit and Run to residence

Damage estimates are expected to be in excess of $20,000.

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

UPDATE: Last kidnapping suspect arrested

Amber Knickle has been arrested and remains in police custody

B.C., Alberta sending nearly 300 fire personnel by Friday to help battle wildfires in Oregon

Some 230 firefighters, most from British Columbia but including a number from Alberta, will be deployed Friday

Most Read