Loading articles...

Legal review shows British Columbia can't restrict interprovincial travel: Horgan

Last Updated Jan 21, 2021 at 9:24 pm EST

Premier John Horgan is joined by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix as they discuss reopening the province's economy in phases in response to the COVID-19 pandemic during a press conference in the rotunda at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday May 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

VICTORIA — The B.C. government says a review of legal options has made it clear it cannot prevent people from travelling to the province from elsewhere in Canada.

Premier John Horgan says in a statement that much of the travel that is happening between provinces is work-related and can’t be restricted.

The province had asked for a review of legal options related to restricting interprovincial travel last week in response to concerns that visitors have contributed to the spread of COVID-19 in B.C.

Horgan says the province also asked for “a better understanding of the impact of travel on transmission” of the illness.

He says B.C. can impose restrictions on people travelling for non-essential purposes if they are causing harm to the health and safety of residents.

If transmission increases due to interprovincial travel, the premier says B.C. would impose stronger restrictions on non-essential travellers, though he did not offer details on potential measures in Thursday’s statement.

Horgan said he spoke with premiers in other provinces Thursday and asked them to share messages that now is not the time for non-essential travel.

“We ask all British Columbians to stay close to home while vaccines become available. And to all Canadians outside of B.C., we look forward to your visit to our beautiful province when we can welcome you safely,” he said.

Public health officials indicate it’s most important that everyone obey health orders, wherever they are, rather than imposing mobility rules, said Horgan.

While announcing the legal review on Jan. 14, Horgan said he wanted to put the matter of interprovincial travel restrictions “either to rest, so British Columbians understand we cannot do that” or find if there’s a way to do it.

Horgan added that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is exploring further restrictions on international travel and “B.C. stands ready to assist.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. 

The Canadian Press