Siblings, grandparents among those to be let in to Canada under new COVID-19 rules

Siblings, grandparents among those to be let in to Canada under new COVID-19 rules

OTTAWA — People desperate to bring extended family members to Canada as the world remains locked down due to COVID-19 are being given some hope by the federal government.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced Friday that more family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents will now be eligible to enter the country.

“The pandemic is an ongoing threat and we need to continue to be cautious and restrictive about who can enter into Canada,” he said.

“We recognize, however, that these restrictions should not keep loved ones apart.”

Those now eligible for entry include adult children, siblings, grandparents and those who have been in a committed relationship for at least a year, which will have to be proven by a notarized declaration.

The process of how they will be able to enter will be published online soon and those who have the needed documentation can arrive beginning Oct. 8.

While that might give hope for family reunions for Thanksgiving, Mendicino said nobody should make travel plans until they’ve been authorized under the new program.

The federal government is also implementing a compassionate-entry program for those who don’t qualify as family but want to enter Canada for specific reasons, such as to see a dying loved one.

Those granted compassionate entry may also be exempt from the current 14-day quarantine requirement, pending discussions with local health officials.

For all other travellers, the quarantine and other screening measures remain in place, and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said enforcement will be stepped up.

The broader border restrictions with the United States are in place through to Oct. 21, restrictions on travellers from other countries apply until Oct. 31, and Blair said the government continues to review COVID-19 conditions around the world.

“It’s not a decision that we come to lightly or renew lightly,” he said of keeping the border tightly controlled.

International students are also being granted more flexibility and starting Oct. 20 will be admitted if their places of learning have been identified by provincial governments as having suitable COVID-19 plans.

Canada first closed its borders to all but a short list of essential workers in the spring in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.

After an outcry, the government opened the gates a crack to immediate family members of citizens and permanent residents, but many other family members had been left off the list of exemptions.

Some of those barred from Canada had been putting pressure on the government in recent weeks to ease the rules, with many coming forward with heartbreaking stories of children having to say goodbye to their dying parents over video chat or siblings unable to enter the country to care for ill family members.

Conservative immigration critic Raquel Dancho said the changes are welcome, though for many come sadly too late. She said her party would be watching closely to see if the new measures are implemented effectively, and urged the government to also move ahead with other options for safe reunification.

“The Liberal government must provide rapid testing for airports and other points of entry into Canada so that Canadians can be reunited with their loved ones safely and protect the public,” she said in a statement.

The new measures come in response to what officials have learned about how the virus is spreading in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier Friday.

Community transmission is by far the biggest challenge and cases imported from outside the country are a tiny fraction of the total, he said.

Still, the expanded measures come as COVID-19 cases in Canada are rising and in some communities, restrictions are being reinstated on businesses and social gatherings.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Friday the new border measures were taken in concert with local health authorities.

“This disease is not going away any time soon. Countries will be struggling for a very long time,” she said.

“This government believes firmly in compassion and we know that we needed to take these steps, given that this is not a short-term problem.”

The ongoing nature of the crisis means the government must also start looking at how to help other vulnerable populations, said NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan.

“The Liberal government needs to exempt refugees from the travel restrictions so that they can get to safety,” she said in a statement.

“Lives literally depend on it.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2020.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. nbsp;Alberta is reporting it's highest daily number of COVID-19 cases, with 364 new infections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta confirmed 323 COVID-19 cases Tuesday

Alberta government is pressing pause on all asymptomatic testing. Dr. Deena Hinshaw,… Continue reading

A $2.3-billion expansion of Alberta’s natural gas transportation system has been approved. “This should provide significant benefits — and we need every little bit of economic boost we can get,” says Reg Warkentin, policy adviser for the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce. (Flickr photo)
Red Deer-area to benefit from $2.3 billion gas pipeline expansion project

Project will add 344 km of new pipeline between RMH and Grande Prairie

Dustin Snider was elected the new board president for Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Earl’s Restaurant manager re-elected Red Deer & District Chamber of Commere president

Dustin Snider has been re-elected president of the Red Deer & Distict… Continue reading

Red Deer singer Kayla Williams hopes listeners fed up with the pandemic are comforted by her new song, Stealing from My Youth, which is digitally available for streaming on Friday. (Contributed photo).
Red Deer singer summarizes universal pandemic feelings in a new single

Kayla Williams releases ‘Stealing From My Youth’ on Friday

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer urged Red Deerians to take more pandemic precautions to stem the rising number of local cases of COVID-19. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Red Deer mayor urges citizens to take more pandemic precautions

Active cases are rising at a ‘concerning’ rate

Grade 6 students at St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School showcase materials designed to raise funds for the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Foundation. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools)
St. Thomas Aquinas students raise funds for Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Foundation

Grade 6 students at St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School showcased their learning… Continue reading

Student taking a math test. (Pixabay photo)
David Marsden: Students need more testing, not less

Testing has been central to Alberta’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s… Continue reading

Red Deer AAA Bantam Rebels forwards Riley Yzerman helps teammate William Jamieson, right, celebrate his goal against the Leduc U15 AAA Oil Kings at Servus Arena Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
U15AAA Rebels dominate to open AEHL season

U18AAA Optimist Chiefs also grab first win of 2020-21 season

Arizona Cardinals’ Kyler Murray celebrates running the ball for a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Murray has happy homecoming, Cards cruise past Cowboys 38-10

‘Monday Night Football’ debut for Murray

Most Read