By: Surjit Singh Flora
The Justin Trudeau government has finally taken a hesitant step forward a full year after trying to combat corona, by including mandatory corona tests for foreign travellers arriving in Canada, and a 14-day quarantine at home if negative — and if positive, a mandatory stay in a designated hotel for 14 days under government supervision.
As is common with this government, even this hesitant step taken after a year of missteps, or non-steps, is not without its challenges.
The federal government released a list of 11 hotels on last Friday, where air travellers arriving in Canada can complete the mandatory quarantine period.
When travellers call the hotel numbers to book for three nights, the holding time is anywhere from 2-3 hours. It would be easier to implement web forms to allow online booking. I wonder if it had been about collecting taxes, Canadians would have been provided with a few telephone lines and web forms!
The three-day mandatory hotel quarantine fee that took effect on Monday appears to be far below the $2,000 per person price quoted by officials when they announced the new plan.
On Friday, two hotels named as participants in the government quarantine program were the Alt Hotel at Toronto Airport and the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at Toronto Pearson International Airport, where the cost to quarantine was $339 and $319 per night respectively.
The government figures are higher because they are based on Trudeau’s habit of overpricing everything. His terms of reference are: “It’s only taxpayer dollars.” Trudeau uses the same logic as he used with airlines when Canadians wanted to fly back home last year, risking contracting the Coronavirus here in Canada.
In addition, it is essential to show a negative test when boarding a flight to Canada from abroad. The above steps are correct, and if they had been taken a year earlier, Canada would have survived the two deadly waves of the Corona epidemic that claimed the lives of thousands of Canadians.
The economy and billions of dollars have been eroded. The first corona case in Canada came from China on January 25, 2020, and dozens more began to arrive in February 2020, but the Trudeau government was sitting by idly. Justin Trudeau must have woken up on March 16, 2020, under pressure from Ontario Premier Doug Ford, but the government did not take any action.
The steps taken by the Trudeau government now are correct, but the way they are being implemented is still flawed, which is troubling the people. The method employed to book a hotel for mandatory quarantining is incorrect. After trying for hours at a specified phone number, the calls of the people are not being answered, which is causing a lot of trouble to the passengers. Wonder why this phone connection is not being improved? Is Internet booking not possible?
Apart from this, the fares of the hotels which have been released for booking are much higher than average. Rooms that normally cost $80 to $130 per day (24 hours) are being booked at $200 to $400 per day, as issued by the government, and bookings are not permitted directly with the hotel.
Why has the government not taken into account the people’s interests while making such arrangements, and why is there such a big difference in cost? Why do ministers in the Trudeau government have their fingers in people’s pockets? Has the government made this arrangement in a hurry? This is hard to believe because the government has taken a full year in planning this step.
The Trudeau government’s performance in administering the corona vaccine has also been inadequate. Strict screening of foreign travellers and 14-day quarantine should continue, but hotel booking should be facilitated, and fares should be as per regular rates. Much of the economy is closed, so non-essential foreigners should be barred from entering Canada.