Feds say COVID-19 border controls are sufficient despite complaints from Ontario

MONTREAL — The federal government defended its approach to securing Canada’s border against COVID-19 on Tuesday as Ontario Premier Doug Ford once again called for more testing at points of entry.

Canada’s border controls — and the 14-day quarantine requirement for returning travellers — are among the strictest in the world, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair told reporters.

“Over the past few days, we’ve heard a number of comments which, frankly, are an unfortunate misrepresentation of what is actually happening at our borders,” Blair said.

“COVID-19 cases related to international travel currently account for only 1.8 per cent of all cases. That means 98.2 per cent of COVID transmissions are a result of community transmissions, not international travel.”

Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, Dr. Howard Njoo, said that while Ottawa is always evaluating its approach at the border, its main concern is transmission within Canada. “What we’re seeing now is that the biggest problem in Canada is community transmission inside Canada, it’s not really the importation of cases,” Njoo told reporters.

Blair and Njoo’s comments followed criticism from Ford, who said Monday that Ottawa needs to do more to prevent travellers from bringing the novel coronavirus into the country.

Ford hit the federal government again on the issue Tuesday, telling reporters that Canada must require travellers obtain a negative COVID-19 test before they arrive on Canadian soil — “something that countless other countries have required for months.”

“We’re letting tens of thousands of people into our country every week without the basic screening requirements,” Ford said, adding that screening on arrival is “the bare minimum.”

“Despite our repeated calls, we hear every week about dozens of flights coming in, unchecked, and bringing in COVID with them.”

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