Carriers call for an end to testing at airports

Carriers call for end of airport testing

UPDATE DAY

The country's two largest air carriers joined forces yesterday to demand that Ottawa stop imposing PCR tests on passengers bound for Canada.

In an open letter to the federal government, the Chief Medical Officers of WestJet, Air Canada and Toronto Pearson Airport call for an end to drug testing and a move to where it is needed most, “meaning in our communities, our schools, our hospitals and our long-term care homes.”

Currently, all travelers arriving in the country must first obtain a negative molecular test result. Upon arrival, all are retested except for travelers from the United States, who are randomly selected only.

Citing recent data, the signatories say that the tests performed at Canadian airports have an average positivity rate of only 3%. This is ten times less than the estimated rate (about 30%) for the Canadian population as a whole.

According to the signatories, this second test is not necessary. 

“We know that the main concern with Omicron is for communities. Therefore, testing is first and foremost useful in our communities, not at our airports. Now is the time to act. »

Ottawa unconvinced

Called to comment, the federal Minister of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos, left little hope that the suggestion of the air environment would be applied in the short term, recalling that the epidemiological situation in Canada and elsewhere in the world continued to deteriorate.

In fact, just before Christmas, Ottawa renewed the screening test mandate for Montreal-Trudeau Airport to Dynacare, which will now have to share the work with Laboratoires Biron. 

Over the past year, Dynacare has been the subject of numerous media reports exposing its difficulty in meeting its earnings disclosure deadlines. 

Air Transat was not a signatory to this letter, but has indicated that they support the position of the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable, which seems to have inspired that of its two competitors.

ADM distances itself

For its part, Montreal-Trudeau Airport prefers to distance itself from the position adopted by the Toronto airport authority. Unlike it, Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) considers that it is not its responsibility to question the government's decisions on whether or not to impose such tests on travellers.

“The health authorities federal authorities have deemed it necessary to systematically screen all passengers arriving from abroad […] in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. ADM's role […] is to collaborate with its partners in order to implement this measure as smoothly as possible and to provide the spaces available […] to the Agence de la santé publique du du Canada and its service provider,” said its spokesperson, Eric Forest.

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