Ottawa must do more to stop people infected with COVID-19 from entering Canada through Mississauga’s Pearson Airport, says Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
The Premier says the federal government must order mandatory testing for the virus for all passengers arriving on international flights. As well, the Premier says a temporary ban should be placed on direct flights coming from where new variants of the virus are detected.
“This is simple folks – no politics, no nothing – if you land in Toronto (at Pearson Airport) you have to be tested, it’s as simple as that. We won’t be the first country to require this and we won’t be the last,” said Ford. “I can’t figure out for the life of me why we aren’t testing every single person that comes through this airport. Right now we have a very porous border.”
Currently, passengers arriving in Canada from international locations must receive a positive test before they board the plane. Still, that hasn’t prevented the virus and the latest strains from entering the country as people are testing positive upon arrival in Canada.
Ford was in Mississauga today at the airport to provide an update on the voluntary and free border testing program.
On January 6, in partnership with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, Ontario began offering COVID-19 testing at Pearson Airport for incoming international travellers who are staying in the province for at least 14 days.
Since its launch, over 6,800 tests have been collected. For those participants that received confirmed results from an Ontario lab, 146 cases, or 2.26 per cent, have tested positive.
Ford pointed out his government program is only voluntary and if you extrapolate the numbers its paints a different picture.
“We have 30,000 people coming through the airport every week so if you do the math that comes to about 750 people who are arriving with the virus each week,” he said.
Ford said while this pilot project helps, it’s not enough as infected people continue to pass through Pearson.
“That’s why, in addition to pre-departure testing, we’re asking the federal government to adopt mandatory testing upon arrival for all international travellers and impose a temporary ban on flights coming from countries where new COVID-19 strains are being detected,” Ford said. “Until vaccines are widely available, we all need to do our part to stop the spread of this virus and that means tighter controls at our border.”
Ontario is further calling on the federal government to strengthen enforcement of quarantine measures, including exploring new approaches that have worked in other jurisdictions, such as isolation hotels, to ensure compliance with the 14-day minimum quarantine requirement for incoming travellers.