Federal government expands eligibility for people coming to Canada on compassionate grounds

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The federal government today announced changes to its border management, bringing some relief to families and couples looking to visit loved ones while increasing some public health measures and strengthening its surveillance activities. quarantine.”The updates announced today respond to the needs of Canadian families who have been separated from loved ones by international borders, some of whom are facing the most difficult time of their lives,” said Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, in a report.

The changes governing family reunification have been broadened to include exceptions for certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, including couples who have been dating for at least a year, including their children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters and grandparents.

The government said it would also consider “potential limited release from quarantine” for some visitors.

Visits will be permitted for these categories of travelers for humanitarian reasons such as terminal illness, serious injury or death. Details on which extended family members qualify for the newly announced exceptions and the conditions for obtaining a humanitarian exception will be released on October 8, the day the new measures take effect, the government said today. .

When all non-essential travel across the Canadian border was effectively banned in March, families and couples who live on both sides of the border, or with some family members living in a country other than the United States, could not see each other.

On June 8, the Liberal government relaxed some of these border restrictions to allow foreign nationals to visit Canada provided they do not report any symptoms of COVID-19, plan to stay at least 15 days, and take action. quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

But the federal government has only granted exceptions for certain categories of visitors, such as: the spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, dependent children, parents or in-laws or a spouse, and guardians or guardians.

Watch: The Minister of Public Safety outlines what needs to change before Canada can open its southern border with the United States:

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, along with other ministers, introduced new regulations to allow family reunification and compassionate travel within Canada. 2:05

Despite these changes, many Canadians with connections and family members across the US border said they remained stranded, unable to meet the criteria. They included engaged couples who did not meet the legal definition of common-law partners and children and parents unable to spend weeks isolating themselves on both sides of the border.

The visitation guidelines, which required a minimum stay of 15 days for family members, with 14 days in quarantine, remained a barrier for people in certain professions, such as essential health workers, who reported no not be able to take time off. .

Quarantine and tracing

“There have been significant impacts for some people due to the travel restrictions put in place due to COVID-19, and it is important that our rules be compassionate,” Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said in a press release.

“We continue to follow the best public health advice to restrict access to Canada while establishing safe procedures for those in exceptional circumstances,” he added.

Watch: Mendicino on the requirements to prove long-term relationship status:

The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship explains the requirements necessary to prove long-term relationship status in order to be able to cross the border. 0:42

The new exceptions require visitors to provide their contact information to government officials so their movements can be tracked. The ArriveCan government app is touted as the best way to do this.

Travelers to Canada arriving by air must pass an airline health check at their point of departure and, once arrived here, their ability to maintain the mandatory 14-day quarantine period will be assessed before being allowed to go. leave their point of entry.

The federal government has also said it is increasing the number of public health workers at the 36 ports of entry that account for 90 percent of all travel to Canada. The government also said it is targeting an increase in the number of live and automated calls it makes to track travelers to Canada.

“While we want to be compassionate, we also need to manage the risk of community spread, and we all need to continue to be vigilant. The cases of COVID-19 are on the increase and we all need to follow public health measures, ”said Minister of Health Patty. Hajdu.

The rules governing the entry of international students are also changed. As of October 20, international students will be allowed to enter Canada provided the institution they wish to attend has been recognized by the relevant province or territory as having a COVID-19 preparedness plan in place.

Watch: Minister of Health Patty Hajdu decided to help reunite families who live on different sides of the border:

Health Minister Patty Hajdu explains why the government decided to create new rules to help reunite families who live on different sides of the border. 0:56

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