The Government of Canada will make an official announcement this Monday (Sept. 26) about dropping vaccination requirements at the border, ending random COVID-19 testing at airports and making ArriveCAN optional, CBC News is reporting.
The update, which has been heavily reported on this week by other news outlets, comes as Canada’s COVID-19 Emergency Order-in-Council relating to border measures is set to expire on Sept. 30.
CBC News obtained its information from a senior government source that was not named as the individual was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Lifting Canada’s mandatory mask policy for air and train travel is still a topic of debate in cabinet, CBC reports.
The Trudeau government is facing intense pressure from border communities, tourism groups, travel agent advocates and Conservative MPs who say Canada’s last remaining travel restrictions are hindering the industry’s recovery.
Earlier this week, a group of MPs and border-city mayors published an open letter to Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden, asking them to end the "unnecessary" border rules.
"When COVID-19 was at its peak and border measures were effective at slowing transmission rates, we did our part to keep Canadians and Americans safe," the letter reads. "Now, we have been left behind in the recovery effort as both countries have largely returned to normal daily life."
WestJet has also added its voice, releasing a statement on Wednesday (Sept. 21), saying that while it (at the time) had not received any word from Ottawa about changes to travel policies, it nonetheless supports the removal of outdated measures.
Andy Gibbons, vice-president of external affairs at WestJet, called for an end to mask-wearing on airplanes as reports suggest the mandatory policy is still being discussed at the federal level.
Gibbons said Canada’s mask policy “has become increasingly unenforceable” and that non-compliance and enforcement on WestJet aircraft continues to be a “source of disruption.”
In 2022, WestJet had more than 1,100 reported incidents of mask non-compliance, which is an increase from 2021, Gibbons said.
“These situations have caused one air turnback, nine gate turnbacks and 74 flights to re-open the cabin door after boarding to offload unruly guests,” he said. “Prior to the pandemic, unruly incidents on our aircraft were extremely uncommon, mask non-compliance has significantly increased unruly behaviour and has resulted in verbal and physical assault which we do not tolerate.”
“In order to protect our guest and employees and ensure a positive travel experience, we believe the government must appropriately transition this policy.”