Manitoba traveler seeks $8,500 fines after border PCR test results are rejected

A fully vaccinated Manitoba woman and her daughter face hefty fines after traveling to the Caribbean last month.

Canada requires travelers to show evidence of a recent negative molecular test for people to re-enter the country from abroad.

But in this case, the women said their results were not accepted at the border because of where the tests were taken.

“It’s never been said ‘no, these are not acceptable,'” says Susan McKillop of Stonewall, Man. who, along with her daughter, was fined $8,500 while trying to return to Canada. “So, we were quite surprised at the border.”

Five days before Canada’s non-essential travel advice went into effect, McKillop, who had recently recovered from a head-on collision, drove her daughter to Fargo, ND, and they took a flight to Aruba.

They spent about a week enjoying the view and basking in the warmth before returning to Canada via the United States.

The fully vaccinated women received PCR testing in Aruba on December 17 before their flight back to Fargo on December 18.

McKillop said on Dec. 19 within 72 hours of getting their tests, which were negative, they drove to the Canadian border in Emerson, Man. where they faced the unpleasant surprise – fines of $8,500 each under the federal quarantine law.

“Over the course of two hours, it took her to come back and say, ‘Well, that’s because you didn’t do the PCR test in the United States,'” McKillop said.

She said they were not given an option to go back and take a test in the US, but they were sent home with tests to do themselves, which were also negative.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said in a statement it will not hand out the fines.

“If questions arise regarding a traveler’s quarantine plan, health status, or molecular testing documentation, CBSA border guards will refer the traveler to a PHAC quarantine officer who will make a decision on next steps,” the CBSA said.

In a statement, the Public Health Agency of Canada said that while it cannot comment on specific cases, the fine for violating Section 58 of the Quarantine Act is $5,000, plus applicable provincial fees.

“Before December 21, when Canada entered by land via the United States, the pre-entry molecular test had to be completed in the US. From December 21, the requirement is simple that the pre-entry molecular test be taken outside of Canada,” reads the statement. statement.

Mary Jane Hiebert, president of the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies, said the fine is high but thinks the problem stems from the time women spent in the US

“If they would have flown from Aruba via the United States to Canada without leaving that airport in the United States, they are on their way and that test from Aruba should have worked,” Hiebert said.

Hiebert said many people postpone travel, but travelers who choose to go abroad may face challenges amid a large number of omicron cases.

She said it’s important to have insurance in case you contract COVID during your trip and need to stay longer than planned.

“There’s an insurance policy you can buy when you get to your destination and you get COVID and you have to go into quarantine to cover those costs,” Hiebert said.

Susan Postma, regional manager at CAA Manitoba, said it’s important to ask questions about insurance coverage prior to travel.

“When there are active advisories, there are several parameters of coverage that are supported by an insurance policy,” Postma said. “It’s very unique to the traveler.”

McKillop and her daughter thought their Aruba results would be accepted and saw nowhere in the rules that a test specifically from the US was required for return to Canada.

At the time, Canada allowed residents who traveled less than 72 hours to the US to return without evidence of a negative PCR test.

“We haven’t found anything that says you can’t enter from another country without a new PCR test,” McKillop said.

Despite the fines, McKillop doesn’t regret going.

She said they have hired a lawyer and plan to challenge their tickets.

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