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Canada's New Rules Will Stop Non-Essential Travellers From Claiming COVID-19 Benefits

Any loopholes are getting closed up.
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Canada's Travel Rules Will Stop Non-Essential Travellers From Claiming COVID-19 Benefits

According to a new statement from the federal government, Canada’s travel rules are getting another update.

On January 11, Employment and Social Development Canada confirmed that any loopholes allowing non-essential travellers to claim money via COVID-19 benefits are set to be closed.

In addition, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will update the application process for the three new recovery benefits, to reflect the updated requirements.

Here’s what you need to know:

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What are Canada's travel rules?

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has urged Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel, including vacations.

However, the country has not put an outright travel ban in place.

This means that it’s essentially down to Canadians to decide whether or not their trip can be considered essential, with the official rules stating that it’s “up to you.”

Despite this, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that the country’s travel advice is “very clear” and has strongly urged everyone to avoid trips abroad.

Canada’s top doctor, Dr. Theresa Tam, has shared similar messages.

Officials have doubled-down on these suggestions recently, particularly after multiple Canadian politicians were caught taking non-essential trips overseas.

What is the CRSB loophole?

In early January, a loophole was discovered in one of Canada’s COVID-19 benefits.

In an interview with La Presse, Public Services Minister Carla Qualtrough’s press secretary, Marielle Hossack, confirmed that the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) could actually be claimed by people quarantining after taking non-essential international trips.

While the benefit is intended for Canadians who are sick with COVID-19, or isolating for essential reasons, the eligibility criteria allowed non-essential travellers to claim during their quarantine period, too.

This meant those who were flouting public health advice by going abroad were able to claim up to $1,000.

The loophole drew criticism from several of Canada’s politicians, who described it as “unacceptable” and “absurd.”

Shortly after, Carla Qualtrough issued a statement promising to address the issue ASAP.

What's the situation now?

In a new statement shared on January 11, the Government of Canada announced changes to the benefit’s eligibility requirements when it comes to travelling abroad.

“The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, along with the other recovery benefits, was never intended to incentivize or encourage Canadians to disregard public health advice,” reads the notice.

To ensure nobody is taking advantage of the benefits, the government has now committed to ensuring all three new COVID-19 benefits do not “incent people to disregard the clear public health advice against travelling abroad.”

Carla Qualtrough is set to propose legislation so that, retroactive to January 3, 2021, international travellers who need to quarantine won’t be able to claim money for the period they’re isolating.

This includes “people returning from vacation, visiting loved ones, and attending to real estate matters abroad.”

There will be some exceptions, such as health care workers who need to cross the border for work.

In addition, the CRA will update the eligibility requirements for the benefits on Monday, January 11.

Applicants will now be required to reveal whether they were self-isolating or in quarantine due to international travel.

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