Trudeau Says More Compassionate Approach to COVID-19 Border Restrictions Is Needed



The federal government is poised to loosen restrictions on who can come into Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government has listened to heartbreaking stories of families being kept apart and realizes there must be some compassion.

A trio of federal ministers will unveil new exemptions to the current restrictions this afternoon.

Canada first closed its borders to all but a short list of essential workers in the spring in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.

After an outcry, they opened the gates a crack to immediate family members of citizens and permanent residents, but many other family members were left off the list of exemptions.

Trudeau said Friday the COVID-19 landscape has changed in the months since the pandemic first took hold in Canada.

Community transmission is by far the biggest challenge and cases imported from outside the country are a tiny fraction of the total, he said.

Incoming travellers are subject to mandatory quarantines for 14 days, which is monitored by the government.

The measures are currently working and will continue, he said, but the government realizes there are people who could be let in without endangering public safety.

“We can always look at ways to improve our measures while keeping Canadians safe and do a better job of understanding the heart-wrenching stories of families divided,” Trudeau said.

Many of those families have become increasingly public with their stories in recent weeks, placing ongoing pressure on the government to make changes to the rules, a call that has been taken up by opposition politicians.

Conservative immigration critic Raquel Dancho highlighted two cases in the Commons Friday. In one, a woman died with her adult children being unable to cross into Canada to say goodbye, and in another, a woman is near death but her sister is being kept out.

“This is not the Canada I know,” Dancho said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2020.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


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