Snowbirds and other returning travellers are calling Red Deer MP Earl Dreeshen’s office daily with concerns about new federal rules that could impact their re-entry to Canada.
The biggest complaint is the lack of information the Liberal government is providing about how and when the new regulations will kick in, said Colin Connon, constituency assistant to Red Deer-Mountain View Conservative MP Earl Dreeshen.
On Jan. 29, the Liberal government announced “unprecedented” new rules for international travel designed to protect the health and safety of Canadians and limit the spread of new variants of the pandemic virus.
So far, Canadian airlines have stopped flying to and from Mexico and Caribbean countries until April 30. And all returning international passengers are being funnelled into four airports: Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver.
What isn’t known yet are the details around another new ruling: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also stated that all returning travellers will soon be subject to a 72-hour stay in a designated hotel — at their own expense — after landing on Canadian soil, while a new COVID-19 molecular test is taken and the results processed. But no dates or logistics have been made public.
That vagueness is fuelling the worries of snowbirds and other travellers, said Connon. He noted that while Trudeau stated there will be some exemptions to the new rules, he has not laid out what these will be.
“People who left (Canada) prior to the rules being announced are now asking are we now subject to them? Or can we be grandfathered?”
Connon said Dreeshen and other Conservative MPs are pushing the Liberal government to provide more information. “A lot of people are getting worked up because they don’t know the details.”
Dreeshen’s office gets several calls a day from Canadian travellers who feel blindsided by the government’s new hotel stay ruling and its cost, estimated at about $2,000. A few calls from people who have to travel out of the country for work are also coming in, said Connon. These people are wondering if they have to do the three-day hotel stay each time they return home to see their families.
One person who regularly works in Mexico for four weeks, then returns to Alberta for a month is wondering how to get there now that Canadian airlines are no longer flying to the country, said Connon.
“If there are exemptions, they have to lay them out… People are looking for answers, but I don’t think the government has decided on them yet.”
Connon believes the the Liberals are trying to figure out how to get enough agency staff to implement the rules around mandatory hotel stays. It’s a big logistical challenge to get transportation from airports to hotels worked out, as well as meals for three days for all the returning travellers.
“They have to get local authorities to help when it might not go so smoothly with some people.”