Mom, kids fined $18K, sent to Canadian quarantine site for presenting 2-hour-expired COVID test at border
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WINNIPEG, Manitoba, February 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A Canadian mother along with her four children and the children’s grandmother were each fined $3,000 and hustled into a government-run COVID quarantine facility after Canadian border agents refused to accept the results of their COVID tests because the results were 2 hours expired.
The mother, who spoke to LifeSiteNews today by phone under condition of anonymity from her designated quarantine facility (DQF) in Winnipeg, Manitoba, said that she, together with her children and the children’s grandmother had traveled to the U.S. from Manitoba earlier this month to attend the 79-year-old grandmother’s medical appointment and to visit family.
Eager to follow the rules of reentry into Canada, the mother, a registered nurse (RNBN) who works in chronic care, went in with her mother and children for the PCR COVID tests on Friday, Feb. 12. The tests all came back negative. They also came with an expiration date of 72 hours set by the Canadian government, meaning that the test would only be valid for 72 hours after taking it.
Five test results came back on Sunday. The last one came back Monday at 1:30 a.m. At 6:30 a.m. that same morning, the mother left for the Canadian border, with 8 hours left before the tests expired. Normally, this would have been more than sufficient time. But then the family’s car started having troubles.
“Three warning lights came on, causing me to drive slower,” the 47-year-old mother said.
The family finally reached the Pembina-Emerson border just after 4:00 p.m. They came prepared with their test results and a quarantine plan for when they returned to their home in Winnipeg. But by the time they reached the customs official, their COVID tests had already expired by 2 hours and 15 minutes.
“I should’ve called the border to say we were going to be late,” said the mother. “But never in a million years did I think the timelines would be so rigid.”
“The border agents could’ve said the tests were expired and given me the option to turn around and get another test. But no, they kept us there over 3 hours and then handed each of us a $3,000 citation totaling $18,000.”
The tickets state that the family failed to “comply with an order reguarding [sic] a treatment measure for preventing the introduction and spread of a communicable disease” according to Section 26 of the Quarantine Act.
Quarantine Act Section 26 states the following: “If a quarantine officer, after the medical examination of a traveller, has reasonable grounds to believe that the traveller has or might have a communicable disease or is infested with vectors, or has recently been in close proximity to a person who has or might have a communicable disease or is infested with vectors, the quarantine officer may order the traveller to comply with treatment or any other measure for preventing the introduction and spread of the communicable disease.”
The government of Canada mandated that as of February 15, “all travelers, with some exceptions, arriving to Canada by land, will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test result taken in the United States within 72 hours of pre-arrival.”
Global News reported on Feb. 9 that “lack of a negative test won’t necessarily prevent people from entering the country. Should Canadians or permanent residents not be able to provide that test result, they could face ‘severe penalties,’ including fines of up to $3,000 per person.”
The mother said she tried to be totally compliant in following all the rules.
“I was just doing what I was told to do. And still, this is what happened. I was totally compliant. I’m doing this, I’m doing that. I was getting tested. I was trying my best to give them what they wanted, and it still wasn’t good enough. I had no wiggle room. No, they were just so rigid.”
The mother said that the border agents would not listen to her pleas, saying repeatedly that they had “zero tolerance” for infractions.
The mother along with her four children — aged 9, 12, 14, and 16 — and their grandmother each received the maximum fine possible. The family was then ordered to drive to the nearest Designated Quarantine Facility (DQF), which is in Winnipeg where they were told they must stay until they can receive another COVID test.
“They threatened me that if I didn’t go to the DQF, they would fine me another $3,000 and send the police.”
The mother, almost crying as she spoke, said that everyone in her family has been traumatized by what unfolded.
“My children were offering to do extra jobs to pay off the fines. My 14-year-old was bawling. She was so scared. We were all just crying,” she said.
“My husband’s furious. He can’t sleep. He’s anxious. He’s worried about us. He can’t believe this is what they do to a family during a pandemic all in the name of safety,” she added.
The mother said that when she spoke to border agents on the phone yesterday, pleading with them to let her and her family go home, they essentially told her that they would not budge and that they wanted to make an example of the mother and her family as a warning to other people not to travel.
“I called the border agent yesterday to talk to her. She basically told me that they gave us the maximum fine possible, that we were the first ones in this area to receive this and that they wanted to make an example of us so that other people would not travel.”
The mother said that there is no way for her family to pay the fines, adding that they are not sure what they will do.
In the meantime, the family was tested yesterday and is currently awaiting the results from the test, which, if negative, may allow them to return home.
The mother said the quarantine location consists of two floors of a hotel in Winnipeg. She said that she can’t believe keeping her family there is really about safety because they’ve been in contact with many more people such as nurses, quarantine staff, and maintenance personnel than if they had just stayed at home according to their original quarantine plan.
“I don’t need to be here, I don’t want to be here, and this is against my freedom. This is not where I should be. I should be at home,” the mother said.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) has called forced quarantines contrary to Canadians’ rights and freedoms as guaranteed by the Charter.
“The Justice Centre is deeply concerned about the current travel restrictions which are a blatant breach of Charter rights,” JCCF lawyer Sayeh Hassan told LifeSiteNews.
“We have filed an action in the Federal Court to challenge these restrictions. We believe they are unconstitutional and violate the rights and freedoms of Canadians to leave and enter Canada freely, not to be detained arbitrarily, the right to counsel, the right to appear in court within a reasonable time to contest detention, the right to reasonable bail and the right to be assumed innocent until proven guilty.”
“At this time individuals who are charged with a criminal offence have all of the above Charter protections, but law-abiding Canadians do not. The Government will need to produce evidence to show why detaining healthy asymptomatic individuals with negative PCR tests is justified under the Charter,” she added.
The mother said that she’s worried about the power Trudeau has seized to pass laws that Canadian citizens have not voted on.
“He made these laws. None of us voted on them. It’s scary,” she said.
Contact information for respectful communications:
Premier of Manitoba Brian Pallister
Email: [email protected]