Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his opening remarks during a news conference outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, December 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his opening remarks during a news conference outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, December 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Returning travellers no longer eligible for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit: Trudeau

Non-essential travellers will have to quarantine, provide negative COVID test

Travellers returning from non-essential trips abroad will no longer be eligible for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, Prime Minister Trudeau said during a Tuesday (Jan. 5) press conference.

Trudeau said that the benefit is designed for workers who need to miss work because they are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19 and need to isolate, or have an underlying health condition that makes being at work unsafe. It provides $500 per week, or $450 after tax.

“It is not intended for travellers who are quarantining after they return,” he said.

“Anyone who travelled for non-essential reasons will not be able to access the sickness benefit.”

Trudeau’s words come on the heels of stricter requirements for incoming non-essential travellers. The 14-day quarantine requirement, in place since March, remains in place but starting Thursday incoming travellers will have to provide proof of an approved COVID-19 tests taken within 72 hours of their arrival time.

Trudeau said that politicians who have travelled recently – including from Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Trudeau’s own caucus – have damaged Canadians’ morale and the sense of solidarity that has proven key to adherence to COVID rules.

“As leaders we’ve been encouraging Canadians to continue to do the right thing. It is discouraging to see politicians not do the same thing,” he said.

He said that while vaccines are being rolled out across the country, it will be months yet until even the most vulnerable are vaccinated. Canada is expected to get more than one million doses of both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by the end of January, and Trudeau said every Canadian who wants a vaccine will be able to get one by September.

At a later press conference Tuesday, chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam said that there have now been nine cases of the U.K. variant of the virus found in Canada. This variant is believed to be more infectious than the one currently present in Canada. That virus variant has led to a strict lockdown in the U.K., with people being asked to not leave their homes except for essential work and to get food and medicine.

Tam said Canada is ramping up its genomic sequencing in order to determine how much of the U.K. variant has truly made its way into the country. Generally, Canada has been doing genomic sequencing at a rate of about five per cent of the COVID cases to date. So far, Tam said all nine cases of the variant in Canada have been related to travellers.

“But there’s always a risk,” she said.

Canada, which has multiple provinces under varying degrees of heightened restrictions, has reported about 7,500 new cases each day over the past week.

Tam said it is worrying that while it took Canada until June to hit its first 100,000 cases, it’s taken just two weeks to go from 500,000 to 600,000.

Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin, vice president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, said that 424,500 vaccines were delivered across country in December. The territories, who did not receive the Pfizer vaccine due to logistical challenges, have now been sent 20,400 doses of the Moderna immunizations.

Fortin said that 124,800 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive in Canada this week, with 208,000 arriving per week for the following three weeks. Canada is also expected to get 170,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine for the week of Jan. 11.

Both vaccines require two doses to reach above 90 per cent effectiveness.

“I personally haven’t heard of wastage of vaccines.”

READ MORE: 7 Alberta cabinet ministers, MLAs, staff resign after holiday travels: Kenney

READ MORE: Travel industry ‘in tailspin’ as federal government adopts new COVID-19 test rules


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirustravel

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

Just Posted

Construction on the main foyer at the soon-to-be opened Clayton Community Centre. (Photo courtesy of HCMA Architecture + Design)
Clayton Community Centre opening delayed again

City says Provincial Health Order reason for latest delay

Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man convicted of assault, unlawfully confining woman pregnant with his child loses court appeal

Victim tells court he drove her to Guildford parking lot after he’d ‘grabbed’ her neck and she fainted

Peter and Stephanie Chung. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey philanthropists presenting $285K in scholarships on Saturday

Drs. Peter and Stephanie Chung over the past nine years have awarded more than 500 students, in memory of their son Joseph

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Jan. 21 marks the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century, according to some. (Black Press Media file photo)
The 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century is upon us

Milestone won’t be back for another 100 years

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Vancouver flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

The top part of the fossil burrow, seen from the side, with feathery lines from the disturbance of the soil – thought to be caused by the worm pulling prey into the burrow. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)
PHOTOS: SFU researchers find evidence of ‘giant’ predatory worms on ocean floor

Fossils found the prove the existence of an ancient Taiwanese worm as long as two metres

Most Read