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Joseph A. Neuberger
Neuberger & Partners LLP
Criminal Defence Lawyers
The Quarantine Act (the “Act”) authorizes Quarantine Officers to implement various control measures to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable disease. Under the Act, failure to comply can result in arrest, and fees and penalties.
In order to prevent the spread of any communicable disease, including COVID19, the Public Health Agency of Canada collaborates with border partners, such as the Canada Border Services Agency, to administer the Act, 24 hours, 7 days a week, at all international points of entry.
Travelers when coming back to Canada are to be screened for symptoms of illness, and in the current situation regardless of signs of symptoms, it is a health order that all travellers returning to Canada are to go into mandatory self-isolation.
In general, all information is shared with government and agency stakeholders including local public health authorities. Travellers now will have their information transmitted and tracked in order to ensure that they are self-isolating and adhering to the new safety measures in place. Those directed to self-isolate will be subject to random checks to ensure compliance.
What is the Duty of a Traveller Returning to Canada?
A traveller returning to Canada, who reasonably suspects that they have or might have a communicable disease listed by health Canada, such as COVID19, shall disclose that fact to a screening or quarantine officer.
Can a Person be Arrested?
Any traveller who has or might have a communicable disease can be arrested by a peace officer if on reasonable grounds it is believed the traveller has refused to be isolated or refuses to comply with a measure ordered by a quarantine officer such as self-isolating.
If a person is ordered to be in quarantine and leaves quarantine without authorization, or obstructs an order, can be charged with offences ranging in penalty from jail to high fines.
Powers and Measures Under the Act:
The Act grants a wide array of measures, including medical examination, and isolation.
Local and Municipal Health Orders:
These types of measures are not under the Quarantine Act but still are enforceable by local authorities as well such as by-law officers and police officers that can also result in high fines.
Take Away Message:
It is vital for the health and safety of all people living in Canada, that health directives and/or orders be strictly followed. Although difficult to alter one’s life to this new norm, it is imperative that we all do our part to curb the spread of this disease and ensure the long- term health of our communities.