Border Closure – Updated May 19/20

The Canadian government has announced additional measures in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19 by way of further border closures.

Earlier last week, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the Canadian border would close to anyone not a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or US citizen, with few exceptions. This closure has now been further extended with a full closure of the Canada-USA border, with exceptions only for trade, commerce and essential services. This new closure began at 11:59pm on March 20, 2020.

The Canadian government has also fleshed out their March 16, 2020 travel restrictions as follows:

Air Travel

On March 18, 2020 the Canadian Government issued an Order in Council (“OIC”) relating to the existing air travel ban, which will be in effect until June 30, 2020.  The OIC provides additional guidance to statutory instruments and regulations.

Any foreign national, who is not a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada will not be allowed to enter Canada by aircraft from a foreign country. Some of the relevant exemptions are as follows:  

  1. individuals who have been in the US for the last 14 days (i.e. if you have not been in Canada or the US in the last 14 days – you cannot come back to Canada, unless you are a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident);
  2. an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or of a permanent resident of Canada;
  3. a person registered as an Indian under the Indian act; or
  4. an aircrew member.

The definition of immediate family member has been expanded to now include:

  1. the spouse or common-law partner of the person;
  2. a dependent child of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner;
  3. a dependent child of a dependent child referred to in paragraph (2);
  4. the parent or step-parent of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner; and
  5. the guardian or tutor of the person.

Transport Canada has again confirmed that they will require air operators to deny boarding of any traveller (including Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents) who have symptoms regardless of their citizenship.

Land Border

The Canadian government advised that land borders will refuse entry to the following people:

  1. US citizens;
  2. Green card holders; and
  3. those who hold a visa to enter Canadian,

If their entry is considered “non-essential” (recreational or for tourism), Diplomats, US travellers arriving in Canada in transit to a third country and travellers with family-care, educational or compassionate reasons will be allowed entry. Supply chains, including trucking, will not be impacted by this closure.

The Canadian government has announced that the Canada-US border will continue to remain close, with exceptions until June 21, 2020

Also announced on March 20 was a change in stance on whether current foreign workers could re-enter Canada. When the border closures were first announced on March 16, current temporary foreign workers and students were confirmed not to be allowed entry. On March 20, the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, announced that temporary foreign workers and students with valid visas to enter Canada will be allowed to re-enter beginning on a date to be announced. In addition, anyone who had been approved for PR before March 16 will be able to land in Canada as permanent residents. Special measures have also been put in place for agricultural and food processing workers who are considered essential in our economy. As with anyone re-entering Canada, these foreign workers will be required to self-isolate for 14 days on their return.

We note that the immigration updates are changing hour by hour and day by day. We will endeavour to provide up to date information. Employers, if your employees are planning to travel or if their work permits are near expiry, please get in touch. As we have noted, IRCC has confirmed that valid status must be maintained while in Canada: there is no allowance for loss of status simply due to COVID-19. 

We will continue to update our clients with information as soon as it becomes available. If you have any questions about this topic, other COVID-19 related questions, or would like assistance with developing and/or reviewing pandemic plans, please do not hesitate to a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer, or refer to the Firm’s COVID-19 website resources.

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