By now, it is well known that Canada has issued restrictions on international travel, closing its borders to most non-essential visitors. However, as we covered first in our recent webinar, there are domestic restrictions on travel between the provinces as well. These restrictions are rapidly changing and keeping track of each province’s varying rules can be confusing if you need to travel. The provinces have been hit differently by COVID-19, which has created an incentive for the travel restrictions, in order to prevent spreading the virus to less affected areas.
For example, as of July 8, Quebec has registered over 55,000 cases whereas P.E.I. has registered under 50 total cases. This disparity in case numbers has created an incentive for the provinces to create restrictions on domestic travel. Further, some provinces are considering making changes to their immigration policies in light of the economic difficulties they are facing because of the pandemic.
Of Canada’s western provinces, Alberta has been hit the hardest by COVID-19. As of July 8th, they have registered just over 8,000 cases of the virus. In comparison, British Columbia has registered around 3,000 cases. The Alberta government is considering making changes to their immigration practices in light of the pandemic. Premier Jason Kenney has said that the province can accommodate fewer newcomers as a result of global travel restrictions and the economic crisis. He further said the government will push Alberta employers to “do everything they possibly can to look within Alberta to the huge and growing number of unemployed people”.
However, seeing as immigration falls under federal jurisdiction, Alberta may have limited options available when it comes to curtailing immigration into the province. It remains to be seen what type of regulations they are going to try and institute to curb immigration into the province.
Responsible travel within Alberta is permitted at this time, including to second homes, vacation homes, cabins and cottages. International visitors must follow a 14-day quarantine protocol and domestic visitors from other provinces face no restrictions at this time, although the province has indicated that non-essential travel is not recommended.
The Maritime provinces, being Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador, and New Brunswick, all have relatively low COVID-19 numbers. As a result, the four provinces created a “travel bubble“, effective July 3, allowing people to move freely from one province to the other. However, despite the presence of a travel bubble, those within the bubble may still have to follow certain protocols in order to enter another province. Further, each province in the bubble has different pandemic policies that prospective travellers should review in order to ensure they stay in compliance with the rules for the province they are travelling to. Those outside the bubble will generally have to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry to any of the provinces within the bubble.
Prospective visitors from the other Maritime provinces to P.E.I. must present a completed self-declaration travel form before they will be permitted entry without self-isolating for 14 days. Permanent residents of Atlantic Canada must fill out the form before arrival to P.E.I. and present it at the point of entry. In addition, they must present a government-issued ID for each member of the travelling party as well as the submission ID (a confirmation that the self-declaration has been submitted). If visitors to P.E.I. are not permanent residents of a province within the travel bubble, they must complete all of the aforementioned steps along with documentation to prove that they have already been in Atlantic Canada for the last 14 days or more. Potential visitors who do not complete these steps risk being turned away from the island.
Every adult attempting to enter Nova Scotia will have to show proof of residency in another Maritime province to officials at the point of entry in order to enter the province. There is no requirement for a self-declaration form. If you prove that you reside within the travel bubble, you will not have to self-isolate for 14 days. People from outside of Atlantic Canada can visit, but they must self-isolate for 14 days, and fill out a form in order to enter. If visitors have already self-isolated in another province in the bubble then they may enter Nova Scotia without self-isolating.
Visitors are required to present two pieces of ID to prove that they are a resident within the Atlantic travel bubble. One piece of ID must include an address. Visitors from other Atlantic provinces must complete the contact information section on the province’s self-declaration form. Visitors from outside the province must complete the form and self-isolate for 14 days upon entry.
Atlantic Canadians can travel to and from New Brunswick without the requirement to self-isolate, but they will be asked to show proof of their province of residence. Further, visitors will be asked health screening questions before they will be allowed entry into the province. Visitors from outside of the bubble will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
Non-essential travel between provinces is discouraged by the British Columbia provincial government, however, domestic travellers to B.C. are not required to self-isolate at this point. Only international travellers must self-isolate.
Residents of other provinces coming to Saskatchewan should observe all public health measures, including physical distancing and restrictions on the maximum number of people allowed to gather. There had previously been a restriction on non-essential travel to Northwest Saskatchewan, but that order has been lifted as of July 7.
Manitoba has a split system, whereby visitors from west of Terrace Bay, Ontario, including all the western provinces and all three territories can visit without being required to self-isolate upon arrival for 14 days. Travellers from all other Canadian jurisdictions, such as most of Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes will be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival to the province. Transporters of goods and people, people travelling to facilitate shared parenting arrangements and people travelling for emergency medical purposes are also exempt from self-isolation.
Currently, Canada’s two most populous provinces do not have any restrictions on domestic travel. There is no requirement to quarantine upon arrival to either province, although both Quebec and Ontario discourage non-essential domestic travel.
Domestic and international travel restrictions are rapidly changing as each jurisdiction makes progress on the number of cases. If you are planning to travel and unsure about the potential restrictions in place at your destination, do not hesitate to reach out.
The immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law are continuing to monitor the developing situation in relation to COVID-19 and will provide updates as the situation develops. If you have any questions about being able to cross the border or about how you should comply with the changing regulations, do not hesitate to contact us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.