OTTAWA – As Canadians airlines cancel flights to the Caribbean and Mexico to slow the spread of COVID-19 and new virus variants, the Trudeau government is taking some heat from opposition parties who say the plan doesn’t go far enough.
As part of new measures announced last week, the government has made a plan with Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing, and Air Transat to cancel trips to these sun destinations until April 30.
However, it’s not hard for Canadians to still book a vacation to these destinations on other carriers.
“The virus doesn’t care whether the airline it’s flying on is American or Canadian. We need rules that are consistently applied,” the NDP’s Taylor Bachrach said.
He joins Conservative critics in saying the federal government has left a major gap in its travel prevention strategy, and if service is going to be stopped, it should be banned for all.
“This is just another piece of collateral damage and another symptom of their incompetence,” Conservative Stephanie Kusie said of the minority Liberal government and its plan.
The federal government has said work is underway to fix a loophole in this travel plan.
However, an air passenger rights advocate notes this is an agreement, not a travel ban, and airlines likely agreed to it because it’s not profitable to run these flights right now.
For the federal government, a travel ban could create a constitutional headache.
The transport minister’s office says U.S. airlines can’t fly direct from Canada to these sun destinations, and that there needs to be a stopover in the U.S.
However, Ottawa says it’s working with the Biden administration to try and close that loophole.
On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new measures as concerns over virus variants grows. As part of upcoming changes, international travellers will have to be tested once they get to Canada. This is in addition to the negative PCR test result they must show before boarding a flight to Canada.
As passengers await their results upon arrival, they’ll be required to quarantine for up to three days in a government-approved hotel at their own expense. This could cost $2,000 a day, Trudeau said.