Eleven Canadians are set to appear before the Federal Court of Appeal Tuesday after challenging the constitutionality of the fed's mandatory quarantine of travellers in quarantine facilities across the country.
In January 2021, the Trudeau Liberals implemented measures that forcibly confined Canadians travelling abroad that didn't provide a negative PCR pre-departure test. The government deemed them "unable to quarantine" at their residence.
On February 14, 2021, the government required Canadians arriving by air to quarantine in a government-approved facility for three days while waiting for their on-arrival test results at their own expense, costing upwards of two thousand dollars per person.
The Department of Public Safety said Canada sent more than 28,000 people into quarantine hotels and facilities at public and personal expense.
Of the 11 claimants represented by the Justice Centre, two were forced into quarantine hotels at their own expense.
Pastor Nicole Mathis is among the claimants present at the Appeals Court. Upon her return to Canada on January 26, 2021, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) informed her that the proof of the negative antigen test she provided was insufficient. Local law enforcement then accompanied her to a government-mandated facility and compelled her to quarantine at home for 14 days.
In June 2021, the Federal Court determined that quarantine facilities were unconstitutional and infringed on Pastor Mathis' right to counsel. As a result, the federal government received direction to advise all air travellers that they had a right to speak to a lawyer before being directed to a quarantine facility or hotel.
Lawyers funded by the Justice Centre will argue Tuesday that the federal government's forcible confinement of law-abiding citizens was an unconstitutional infringement of their rights. They will also defend against a motion brought by the federal government to have the challenge dismissed as "moot" because the measures no longer exist.
Despite an order by the Court to expedite the appeal, it has taken over one year to be heard, with the matter in limbo since July 9, 2021.
"The federal requirement to force returning Canadians into quarantine hotels was unscientific, unprecedented, and ought never to be repeated in this country," states Allison Pejovic, a constitutional lawyer. "To confine healthy Canadians into isolation facilities against their will was to treat them like criminals.
She argues that those "draconian measures lacked justification" and that Canadians need the Federal Court of Appeal to rule on this "very important case."
On November 10, 2021, The Office of the Auditor General of Canada released a report focusing on how the PHAC implemented and enforced quarantine of air travellers at government-authorized hotels pending the results of their on-arrival COVID tests.
The report concluded, "the Public Health Agency of Canada ... did not adequately enforce additional border control measures imposed to limit the introduction of the virus that causes Covid-19 and its variants into Canada." Further, PHAC spent $7 million to operate government-authorized hotels and $225,556,596 to briefly house incoming travellers at designated quarantine facilities.
Supplementary estimates tabled in Parliament revealed taxpayers paid the total expense of transport, room, board and medical care for hotel stay until February 22, 2021, as the cabinet charged costs directly to travellers under the Quarantine Act. The COVID quarantine requirement ended on August 9.