A former immigration minister is one of several prominent voices calling on the Canadian government to identify safe solutions on how the country can lift its travel restrictions.
According to the Calgary Herald, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has said that safely lifting Canada’s travel restrictions is critical to supporting his province’s economic recovery.
Since March 18, Canada has had travel restrictions in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The restrictions are in effect until June 30.
Kenney is not saying that Canada should re-open its borders now, but rather, would like the federal government and provinces to develop a plan that would facilitate the resumption of international and domestic travel as quickly as possible.
Jason Kenney was the longest serving immigration minister in Canada’s history, as he led Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) between 2008 and 2013.
Kenney was one of the country’s most influential immigration ministers ever, as he oversaw sweeping reforms and modernizations to Canada’s immigration system. For instance, he laid the ground work for the eventual launch of the Express Entry system.
In 2019, Kenney was elected as Premier of Alberta, which is Canada’s fourth-largest province by population and a province that has seen its immigrant intake rise significantly over the past two decades due in large part to the economic growth it enjoyed from its oil and gas industry.
Kenney points to countries such as Iceland, Austria, and New Zealand as examples that Canada should evaluate as it develops strategies on how to re-open its borders.
Iceland, for example, is offering COVID-19 tests to all incoming travelers and exempts those who test negative from its mandatory two-week quarantine.
Like other Canadian leaders, Kenney is worried that prolonging Canada’s travel restrictions will cause the country’s economy to suffer.
Canada’s airline, hotel, and tourism industry is also proposing solutions to the federal government on how Canada can safely welcome foreign travelers.
Canada currently requires travelers (including Canadian citizens and permanent residents) to quarantine for two weeks upon entering the country.
However, the Canadian airline industry is arguing that this requirement is discouraging travelers from coming to the country.
Instead, it is proposing enhanced health and safety measures such as mandatory mask-wearing, temperature checks, and rapid testing at airports to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.
Canada will make an announcement by the end of this month on whether it plans to loosen its travel rules.
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