Since the beginning of the pandemic, Canada’s critical infrastructure sectors have been granted exemptions from mandatory quarantine rules and from testing at the land border for their workers entering Canada from abroad. These exemptions have been pivotal to safely maintaining business operations during the pandemic and to enable the timely, free flow of food, medical supplies, and critical goods across the border.
The recently announced requirement for non-essential travellers to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival and wait three days in a designated hotel for the results, and new, broad testing requirements for land border crossings, are causing concern in industry. While the government has made it clear that this is intended for non-essential travellers, the exemptions detailed to date are limited and do not yet capture all essential workers. Because the critical infrastructure sectors rely on one another, all these sectors must be exempted equally in order to function properly. The disruptions caused by the inability of these workers to move freely and quickly across the border will result in some sectors being forced to cease operations. Furthermore, additional testing requirements at the border for essential workers, especially truckers, risks causing catastrophic delays and threatens the cross-border supply chains for food and important goods.