Ford, Legault among Premiers calling on feds to enact tougher travel restrictions at borders

By Lucas Casaletto

Premier Doug Ford, who today acknowledged he made mistakes for introducing COVID-19 restrictions that sparked a furious backlash, has issued a letter that he and Quebec’s Premier have written to the Prime Minister asking for tougher border protection.

In it, the Premiers say they continue to encourage residents to stay home and avoid travel, adding that a number of jurisdictions have implemented restrictions on the provincial land borders to further discourage interprovincial voyage.

“… However, in the third wave, the spread of infection as a consequence of new variants of concern is increasing at an alarming rate,” the letter reads, in part.

“We are seeing a steady increase in positive cases despite the measures currently in place.”

In the letter, the Premiers say they’re in full support of the federal government’s current travelling measures, such as requiring a negative test from all incoming or departing passengers and instituting mandatory hotel quarantine stays.

“… But more must be done,” they write. “To protect the lives and well-being of our citizens, to ensure the health system is not further stretched, and to give time to the vaccine rollout to protect the people [and] Canadians, we need the federal government to further strengthen measures at air and land borders.”

Earlier Thursday, Quebec Premier Francois Legault confirmed he and a number of other premiers were writing to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urging him to tighten restrictions on land and air travel to prevent the entry of more novel coronavirus variants.

Legault told reporters in Quebec City he and his counterparts are concerned about flights coming from regions where more transmissible variants are rampant.

“We would like to reinforce the measures regarding international flights (from) India and Brazil,” Legault said.

“Second, for people coming from the United States on the ground, we would like to see more measures, including quarantine, to make sure we prevent the increase in the number of people infected in Canada.”

Legault, Ford, and the Premiers of Alberta and British Columbia are among those behind the letter, adding that they agree more should be done to reduce interprovincial travel.

The deputy chief public health officer says Canada will be making some changes at the border for incoming flights.

Dr. Howard Njoo said Thursday that Trudeau and the government are looking at COVID-19 data and a decision to take more action at the border is imminent.

Opposition Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says the Liberal government needs to immediately stop admitting flights from COVID-19 “hot spot” countries like India and Brazil.

RELATED: ‘Sorry folks won’t cut it’ – With Ford under fire, opposition leaders won’t back down

As the third wave continued to hit the province hard, a group of doctors published an open letter of their own, asking Ontarians to press the government into action.

They recommended measures ensuring more people can work from home, increased workplace testing, and vaccines targeting the hardest-hit areas.

“This is a crucial moment for the people of Ontario, for its economy, for its people’s health, and for our collective futures,” the letter said.

“Nobody can do this alone and we need your vocal support to keep you and your families and communities safe and out of our hospitals.”

The government’s science advisors said earlier this week that the province is facing its most challenging health crisis and measure such as paid sick leave, the closure of non-essential workplaces, and restricting movement were urgently needed.

With files from The Canadian Press

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