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

District of Port Hardy considering allowing modular homes and short term rentals. (North Island Gazette File Photo)
Port Hardy considering short term vacation rentals and modular homes

Check out the online public hearing on Jan. 26

Creekside Apartment building. (Kimberley Kufaas Photography)
Half of the Creekside Apartment building reopens for tenants

Owners will be looking to rent out the other half of the building’s units tentatively by the spring.

Chris Voller with Gwa’sala First Nation hereditary chief Willie Walkus at a farewell gathering for Voller. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
North Island First Nations nominate RCMP officer for Reconciliation Award

Chris Voller nominated for work in the community over past nine years

Submitted photo of Town Park C Block apartment fire.
Apartment fire in Port Hardy forces residents to jump from building to save their lives

‘multiple people were transported to the hospital with injuries from falling’

Campbell River city council has given unanimous support to its mayor to continue the fight for the aquaculture industry on our coast. Black Press file photo
Campbell River city council unanimous in support of fish farms

‘I’m certainly not willing to roll over and accept a bad decision,’ says one councilor

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Most Read