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Newlyweds from New Westminster kept apart for months due to Air Canada's COVID restrictions

Summary

The couple faced major issues booking a flight back home from Scotland amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Canadian Border Services and Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada view essential crossings in two different ways

NEW WESTMINSTER (NEWS 1130) – It’s been over 4 months since New Westminster Newlywed Page Munro has seen her husband Kieran. Kieran is from Scotland and is finishing his job as a county-level councillor.

When he arrived at the London airport on June 8th to fly to Canada and reunite with his new wife, Air Canada would not let him board the plane.

“The agent first seemed to suggest that his reason for travel was non-essential but when he tried to show him his documents our marriage certificate she wasn’t interested in that, rolled her eyes and said it’s not up to me,” Munro says.

Before June 9th  Canada had banned non-essential crossings into the country.

But Canadian Border Services and Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada had two different definitions of what an essential crossing is.

IRCC says reuniting spouses, even if one is not a citizen, is considered essential.

Erica Olmstead is an immigration lawyer.

“People who are coming from a non-optional discretionary purpose like tourism wouldn’t be allowed into the country but family members coming not on a tourism basis would be accepted,” she says. “And so when a number of spouses of Canadians were applying to come they found the policy was being applied in a more restrictive way saying if you aren’t coming and staying permanently that’s a non-discretionary trip and you wouldn’t be allowed in, but this isn’t what was being written online on the website so a lot of people were confused as to why they were being refused.”

In a statement to CityNews, Air Canada says “Air Canada’s staff in London contacted CBSA to determine this passenger’s eligibility and were advised the passenger was not eligible to enter Canada as he was a non-Canadian passport holder on non-essential travel.”

Munro is frustrated with all of the confusion.

It wasn’t until CityNews spoke with an immigration lawyer that the discrepancy between the CBSA and IRCC was brought to her attention.

Now Munro feels when she originally booked the ticket and spoke with an Air Canada agent, they should have clarified this to her.

“I actually did it over the phone with an air Canada agent specifically because I wanted their guidance in booking it,” she says.

The day after her husband was not allowed on the flight, new rules went into affect making it clear that spouses will be allowed to cross borders and reunite but Munro says she’s already lost more than $2,000 dollars on the ordeal.