CALGARY: The Justice Centre is threatening to sue the federal government if it does not relax the current mandatory quarantine restrictions for persons travelling internationally. For nearly six months, the Canadian government has imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine on all international travelers to Canada, both citizens and visitors alike. The current requirements make no allowances for persons with no symptoms, or for persons to test negative for COVID-19. Even walking alone outside for exercise and fresh air is prohibited and subject to extraordinary fines under the Quarantine Act.
Around the world, many countries have either reduced mandatory quarantines or dispensed with them altogether. Some countries have implemented a testing regime whereby a person can take a test to demonstrate a negative COVID-19 test result, which has enabled international travel to resume and allowed a much-needed restart of tourism and the tens of thousands of jobs associated with international travel. Major airlines have been petitioning Trudeau for months to relax restrictions to no avail: the quarantine restrictions which are crippling the economy and violating personal liberty remain in place.
The Justice Centre has warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that quarantine is the functional equivalent of house arrest. Being confined by the state to a person’s residence is a serious interference with Charter rights, such as the right to liberty, mobility and privacy. All government orders, including emergency orders, must comply with the Charter by not infringing on citizen’s rights without demonstrable justification which are a minimal impairment of liberty.
“The continued quarantining of all persons entering Canada, while ignoring test results and the lack of symptoms, impairs liberty in a manner that is arbitrary, far more broad than necessary, and disproportionate,” notes Justice Centre lawyer James Kitchen.
“If a returning traveler takes a COVID-19 test, and it is negative, restricting their freedom is not connected to a legitimate public health objective. A test result proving a lack of infection can now produce results in hours or days. These are widely available and used in Europe and other countries. Preventing people from internationally travelling due to excessive quarantines interferes with the constitutionally-protected right to earn a living and continues to hamstring the Canadian economy,” adds Mr. Kitchen.