As a war of words erupts between Ontario premier Doug Ford and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, a union representing airline workers is speaking out about the mounting evidence that demonstrates a failure of the current border policies and an apparent disconnect between federal politicians and the agencies responsible for protecting Canadians. Unifor Local 7378, which represents approximately 452 airline pilots, first met with senior members of federal Liberal staff in early September to discuss an evolution to Canada’s border policies that would incorporate global best practices such as testing on arrival and shortened quarantine periods and has been participating in regular conversations with senior federal bureaucrats ever since.
“When it comes to border policy, the federal Liberal party appears to be frozen with the fear of doing anything that might upset their lead in the polls,” said Barret Armann, president of Unifor Local 7378. “Meanwhile it has become quite apparent to us that senior civil-service policy makers have approached this issue with the safety of Canadians first and foremost in their minds and as a result are ready to embrace a new, improved, approach to border policies if only their political masters were willing to give them the freedom to do so.”
Last week it was revealed by Premier Doug Ford that based on cell-phone data international travellers spend almost 25% of their two-week quarantine period away from their homes. The startling revelation came shortly after preliminary findings were released showing the testing on arrival pilot project in Alberta is off to a successful start. As a result Unifor 7378 is calling on the federal government to take action above and beyond what is being called for by Doug Ford and replace the current border policy with testing on arrival and a shortened quarantine period at all of Canada’s international airports. This would ensure the earliest possible detection of travellers who may be positive for COVID-19 and dramatically improve quarantine compliance. “With the data showing miniscule importation of the virus and significant community transmission the quarantine does nothing. Rapid testing everywhere is the solution” said Barret Armann.
Ford has been growing increasingly impatient with Federal officials over the failure to test travellers arriving at Pearson Airport. Last week he threatened that if the federal government wasn’t ready tp start making airport testing mandatory, the province would take over the task.