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

The next Canadian census will be held in May, 2021. The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is urging its residents to complete the census form online. (Statistics Canada)
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen urges participation in census

National census will be held in May, 2021 with COVID-19 protocols in place

COVID-19 test tube. (Via Getty)
COVID-19 moving out of southern Interior and into the north: IH

IH says vaccinations reaching care homes, Big White cluster hard to control, virus spike in Fernie

Medical chief of staff Dr. Brad Raison of Penticton Regional Hospital and John Moorhouse of the Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation look over one of the rooms in the David E. Kampe Tower in 2017 while the tower was under construction. (Western News File)
After 46 years in media, Moorhouse retires

John Moorhouse spent the last six years with the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation

Calls for potential overdoses in B.C. spiked in 2020, especially in the Okanagan - Shuswap. Pictured above is a BCEHS re-enactment of paramedics attending an overdose. (BCHES)
Overdose calls spike in 2020 across the Okanagan – Shuswap

Stats show every major community in Okanagan - Shuswap increased in calls for potential overdoses

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: COVID-19 restrictions continue to affect us all

Canada has recorded more than 700,000 confirmed cases of pandemic

Charlotte is one of the resident pigs at Star's Piggly Wiggly's Sanctuary near Kelowna. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Kelowna-area pig sanctuary needs a new home

Star’s Piggly Wiggly’s Sanctuary is looking for properties in Vernon, Coldstream, and Enderby

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
One in five tests in Fernie area coming back positive: doctor

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
From the “You can’t make this stuff up” file – stories from the BC CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Inspection of bridge crossing on a B.C. forest service road. (B.C. Forest Practices Board)
B.C. falling behind in maintenance of forest service roads

Auditor finds nearly half of bridges overdue for repair

A cow moose wanders around the Silver Star Elementary School neighbourhood Tuesday, Jan. 19. (Contributed)
Public provoking blamed for moose chasing Okanagan residents

‘The problem is people are bugging it’ conservation officer

(Black Press Media files)
Woman steals bottles of wine after brandishing stun baton in New Westminster

Police say the female suspect was wearing a beige trench coat with fur lining

Most Read