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431-00148 (Health)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

We, the undersigned citizens of Canada, draw the attention of the House of Commons to the following:

Whereas, since the discovery of the first cases of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in January in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the number of cases of COVID-19 has increased exponentially and is now estimated to be over 80, 000 worldwide; and,

Whereas, although the vast majority of cases are within the Chinese province of Hubei, cases of COVID-19 have been reported on every continent except Antarctica, and the present outbreak of COVID-19 has been recognized by the World Health Organization as a public health emergency of international concern; and,

Whereas, Canadian Health officials have confirmed fourteen cases of COVID-19 in Canada, and Canada's Chief Public Health Officer acknowledged on February 24 that Canada may no longer be able to contain and limit the virus if it continues to spread around the world, and that Canadians should be prepared for the possibility of an outbreak or pandemic.

Therefore we, the undersigned, urge the House of Commons to take stronger action in protecting Canadian citizens from a possible COVID-19 outbreak. Some possible measures include:

  • That Health Canada improve their communication with the Canadian Public regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. For instance, in their daily briefing, Health Canada should release empirical data regarding their level of preparedness.
  • That the scope of screening and testing at airports be expanded. For instance, many countries such as the United States, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan all now utilize temperature checks at airports.
  • If the situation continues to escalate further, that a strong self-quarantine advisory, or even a mandatory self-quarantine policy, be implemented for those who have recently returned from heavily affected countries, and that flight restrictions also be considered for these countries.

Response by the Minister of Health

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Darren Fisher

Protecting the health and safety of all Canadians is the top priority for the Government of Canada. As the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to evolve, the Government of Canada has progressively implemented a number of emergency orders under the Quarantine Act and other measures to protect Canadians, including a series of escalating measures for those who enter Canada. The actions taken are key to limiting the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in Canada. In its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada continues to work actively with provinces and territories, as well as key stakeholders, to implement necessary measures, produce guidance and recommendations, and communicate regularly to Canadians.

 

International travel measures

As of March 13, the Government of Canada implemented a ban on any non-Canadian citizen or permanent resident boarding a flight to Canada, with few exceptions.

As of March 21, the Government announced a 30-day restriction on all non-essential travel at the Canada-U.S. border. Canada and the U.S. have agreed to extend this until June 21.

As of March 25, anyone entering Canada, whether by air, land or sea, was required to isolate for 14 days regardless of whether they had COVID-19 symptoms. Additionally, no traveller showing symptoms of COVID-19 will be allowed to board a commercial flight to Canada. There are limited exemptions for charter, private, and medivac flights. Healthy workers with no symptoms who regularly cross the border to ensure the continued flow of goods and essential services, or individuals who receive or provide other essential services to Canadians, are exempt from the requirements to quarantine.

As of April 15, any traveller arriving in Canada—whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic—cannot isolate or quarantine in a place where they would be in contact with people who are vulnerable, such as adults aged 65 years or over and people with pre-existing medical conditions.

 

In addition, every traveller needs to confirm that they have a suitable place to isolate or quarantine where they will have access to basic necessities such as food and medication. Travellers are expected to make plans for where they will isolate or quarantine in advance of arriving to Canada. Travellers who do not have an appropriate place in which to isolate or quarantine themselves must go to a place designated by the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada.

In order to focus resources on these enhanced border measures, only four Canadian airports are receiving international commercial flights: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary. Chartered, private, medivac, and domestic flights, as well as flights from the U.S., the Caribbean, Mexico, and St. Pierre-et-Miquelon in France are not currently affected by these measures; however, efforts are being made to direct these exempted flights to the aforementioned four airports.

Screening

Travellers who are returning to Canada are being screened, before and upon arrival, as part of Canada’s enhanced border measures to contain further introduction and spread of COVID-19.

 

Airlines are required to conduct health checks of all travellers before they are permitted to board a flight to Canada. The health check is based on guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada. If air operators observe a traveller with symptoms, or if the passenger answers yes to any of the questions on the health check, they are refused boarding for a period of 14 days or until they provide a medical certificate confirming that their symptoms are not related to the COVID-19 virus.

 

For those travellers that were assessed to be symptomatic while in the air: upon arrival at a Canadian airport, these travellers are met and escorted by border officers away from other travellers to be attended to by public health personnel.

 

All persons arriving in Canada at an air, land, marine, or rail border, no matter their country of origin or mode of entry, are questioned and assessed upon arrival. They are asked about the purpose of their visit and whether they are feeling ill or unwell. The border services officer may ask additional questions to make their determination.

 

Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers not only query travellers on the state of their health, they are also trained to observe visible signs of illness. They will refer any traveller suspected of being ill for further assessment by quarantine officers with the Public Health Agency of Canada, regardless of how travellers respond to screening questions. CBSA officers remain vigilant and are highly trained to identify travellers seeking entry into Canada who may pose a health and safety risk.

 

All persons arriving in Canada must agree to the following: “I/we acknowledge that I/we must self-isolate for 14 days to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19.” They are given a Public Health Agency of Canada handout with instructions to isolate for 14 days, whether or not they have symptoms.

 

In addition, all travellers arriving in Canada are now required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering to proceed to their final destination or place where they will isolate or quarantine.

 

Domestic travel

 

As of March 30, in addition to efforts to address COVID-19 spread by international travel, Canada has introduced new domestic transportation measures to support provincial, territorial, and local efforts to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spreading from travelling within Canada. All air operators, including those operating chartered flights, and intercity passenger rail companies are required to conduct a health check of travellers before they board, based on guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Air operators and intercity passenger rail companies are required to refuse boarding to a passenger that presents COVID-19 symptoms. Passengers that are subject to a provincial or local public health order, or those that have been refused boarding in the past 14 days due to a medical reason related to COVID-19, will also not be permitted to board.

 

Quarantine and Isolation

 

Travellers entering Canada who are asymptomatic have to provide a credible plan to self-isolate for 14 days to a CBSA officer that ensures that they have a suitable location to self-isolate, are not in contact with vulnerable persons, and have access to the necessities of life. If the traveller is unable to provide a plan, they are required to enter a quarantine facility determined by the Chief Public Health Officer. Asymptomatic travellers may take public transportation but must wear a non-medical mask or face-covering, not make any stops on the way home, and practice physical (social) distancing at all times. Spot checks will be conducted to verify compliance for those that are self-isolating at their home. These travellers are still at risk of developing symptoms and infecting others, and these measures have been adopted to reduce the risk of further infection in Canada.

 

Quarantine facilities (e.g., hotels) will be used to lodge symptomatic people who do not have private transportation, or who are unable to get to a place to isolate. These facilities are also available for symptomatic people who cannot isolate at their homes if they would have contact with vulnerable people such as older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions. These measures will not only help to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but will also help protect older adults and medically vulnerable people who are at the greatest risk of severe consequences from COVID-19.

 

Enforcement

 

As of April 15, spot checks are being conducted to verify compliance with the above requirements. Failure to comply with the above requirements established through orders made under the Quarantine Act is an offence.

Maximum penalties include a fine of up to $750,000 or imprisonment for six months, or both, for failure to comply with this Order. A person who causes a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person while willfully or recklessly contravening the Quarantine Act or the regulations could be liable for a fine of up to $1,000,000 or imprisonment of up to three years, or both.

Amendments under the Contraventions Act now allow for increased flexibility in enforcement of offences under the Quarantine Act. Law enforcement agencies, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, local and provincial police forces, can issue tickets to individuals with fines ranging from $275 to $1000, based on the seriousness of the non-compliance to the Quarantine Act.

 

Communications:

 

The Government of Canada is committed to helping Canadians access reliable information and support regarding the current COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Canadians are encouraged to visit the Government of Canada’s website (www.canada.ca/coronavirus) and the websites of their respective province or territory for the most up-to-date information and latest guidance. The Government of Canada website provides:

  • information on the current situation, on financial and economic support, on travel, and on safety and security;
  • updates for health professionals, Indigenous communities, businesses, researchers, and Government of Canada employees;
  • a portal dedicated to mental wellness, called Wellness Together Canada, which makes it easier for Canadians to find credible information and help address mental health and substance use issues.
  • a COVID-19 self-assessment tool, a COVID-19 Virtual Assistant, and email notification service, and the Government of Canada COVID-19 Action Plan; and
  • an interactive map showing the amount of COVID-19 cases over time in each provinces and territory, as well as epidemiological reports available for download.

 

The Government of Canada has committed $50 million to support the development and implementation of a comprehensive national public education campaign for COVID-19 to provide Canadians with credible information that promotes behaviours to protect individuals and overall public health. This includes advertising, social marketing, the development of information resources, the establishment of partnerships and targeted outreach to at-risk populations. In addition to radio and print ads, and a mail-out to households across Canada, three TV ads have been produced to date.

 

 

The Government of Canada has also launched a free Canada COVID-19 app. The app is available for download for Apple iOS and Android smartphones, and as a web application. The app provides users with information and recommendations, has the ability to track users’ symptoms, and has educational information, answers to common questions, and links to reliable and up-to-date public health information sources.

 

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer is actively coordinating with provinces and territories on messaging to Canadians. Regular technical briefings are provided to the media to ensure that Canadians have the most up-to-date, evidence-based information about COVID-19.

 

Canada’s Prime Minister, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Canada’s Federal Health Minister, other federal cabinet ministers, and provincial Medical Officers of Health maintain public social media accounts where they disseminate COVID-19 information for Canadians.

Presented to the House of Commons
Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan)
March 11, 2020 (Petition No. 431-00148)
Government response tabled
May 25, 2020
Photo - Garnett Genuis
Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan
Conservative Caucus
Alberta

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.

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