Pearson Airport, Air Canada & WestJet Want The Feds To Change Testing Requirements

They say it could free up 8,000 COVID-19 tests a day for schools and health care providers.

Pearson Airport, Air Canada & WestJet Want The Feds To Change Testing Requirements
Toronto Associate Editor

Canada's busiest airport and two major Canadian airlines are urging the feds to scrap some of their COVID-19 testing requirements.

Toronto Pearson Airport, Air Canada and WestJet collectively penned an open letter to top-ranking health officials with the Canadian and Ontario governments pleading them to work together and update travel restrictions so more resources can be given to "support our healthcare system and our communities."

The letter claims that in a time when frontline workers are struggling to get access to tests, "There is a growing discrepancy between resources allocated to asymptomatic travellers and to those who need it most."

They are recommending to scrap mandatory arrival testing at airports and instead give those resources to communities, schools and the health care system. They also suggest going back to "surveillance arrival testing" for international travellers as well as mandatory isolation for fliers coming in from outside of Canada who are symptomatic or tested positive for COVID-19 on a surveillance test.

"Over the last two months, Omicron has quickly become the predominant variant of COVID-19. As it spreads throughout our communities, we need to ensure Canada's limited testing resources are being used where Canadians need them most—to support our communities, schools, hospitals and long-term care homes," the joint letter reads.

The Ontario government has already changed up who's eligible to get PCR and rapid antigen tests and reduced the self-isolation period for fully vaccinated residents who test positive for COVID-19.

"As every person travelling to Canada must take a PCR test prior to getting on a plane inbound to Canada and must be fully vaccinated, there is no good public health rationale for a second test upon arrival. We know that the primary concern for Omicron is in the community," the joint letter reads.

Recently, the feds updated their travel restrictions with stricter entry requirements, making it a lot harder for unvaccinated travellers to get into the country.

"Removing arrivals PCR testing from Toronto Pearson Airport alone would free up 8,000 tests a day for the GTA, which will help keep our most vulnerable—those in long-term care, hospitals and our children attending school—safe," the joint letter says.

"Now is the time to put scarce testing resources where Canadians need them most: in our communities and not in our airports."

Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Alex Arsenych
Toronto Associate Editor