Canadians hoping to take vacations abroad over the coming months have been dealt another blow from the news that they will no longer be eligible to claim government COVID benefits during the quarantine period on return to Canada.
The news comes on the back of the introduction of mandatory PCR tests for all arrivals in Canada, including returning citizens, and will act as another barrier to Canadians hoping to travel internationally during the pandemic.
Travelers Set To Lose Out On COVID Benefits
On Monday January 11 the Canadian federal government issued a news release outlining that all international travelers returning to Canada would not be able to claim support from any of the Canadian Recovery Benefit programs currently available, in order to cover income losses during the two-week mandatory quarantine period.
The directive will apply retroactively to January 3, and means that any travelers returning to Canada will be ineligible to apply for financial assistance from any of the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) or the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) programs. These benefits were introduced in the summer to replace the Canadian Emergency Recovery Benefit (CERB) which was launched at the start of the pandemic to provide support to those who lost employment or work hours due to the lockdown measures.
The CRB provides support to employed and self-employed individuals who have lost work due to COVID-19 and are not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. The CRCB provides income to those unable to work in order to care for a child or family member. The CRSB provides income support to workers who are unable to work at least 50% of hours due to sickness, mandatory quarantine or self-isolation.
Previously, Canadians returning from international travel could apply for these benefits in order to cover income lost due to the mandatory two-week quarantine period on arrival back in Canada. However, the new rules will prevent this going forward, making it more difficult for Canadians to travel abroad while the mandatory quarantine requirement remains in place. Travelers who are unable to work from home will be particularly affected by this new rule, as they will be unable to replace income lost during self-isolation.
Canadian Government Increasingly Discouraging International Travel
The federal government has decided to act to prevent travelers claiming COVID benefits as it seeks to strongly discourage Canadians from vacationing abroad during the pandemic. In a statement, Carla Qualtrough, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion said “This is not the time to travel abroad, and if you make the choice to do so, you will not be eligible for these benefits during your mandatory quarantine period.”
This decision follows a speech by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week in which he said that “No one should be vacationing abroad right now”, adding that the COVID recovery benefits are “not intended for travelers who are quarantining when they return from holiday”.
This represents a significant strengthening of the Canadian government’s position on international travel during the pandemic, which until recently has been relatively relaxed. Unlike many countries, Canada has refrained from outright banning its citizens from travelling abroad at any point during the pandemic thus far. Indeed, back in October Trudeau stated in an interview that the government would not keep citizens “imprisoned in Canada”.
Further waves of the pandemic appear to have hardened the Canadian government’s position on the subject of international travel. This has been reflected in the new measures, which alongside the tightening of COVID benefit-claiming rules, include the recent launch of the requirement for all travelers arriving in Canada to have proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test.
These new measures have already stirred considerably controversy, acting as significant barriers to international vacations for Canadians during the pandemic. Further debate on the scope and impact of the new rules is likely as the virus continues to affect our everyday lives, and travelers should prepare for more new rules and procedures over coming months before the pandemic is brought under control.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories