An Alberta man who works in the United States was forced to stay at a quarantine hotel last week while his colleague with the same paperwork went straight home.
Darcy Dux is an oil and gas well driller who works for a Calgary drilling company. He works two weeks on and two weeks off, commuting between his home near Stettler, Alta., and New Mexico. When Dux and a colleague with the same paperwork arrived at Calgary’s airport on Feb. 24, his co-worker got to go home but Dux was told he’d be staying at a quarantine hotel.
“I gave her the paperwork and she kind of briefly looked through it and then after that she said ‘no you are not eliminated from isolation — you’re not exempt from the quarantine,'” Dux said about his conversation with a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) agent at the Calgary International Airport.
Dux presented documents from his employer and from Alberta Health stating that his job as a driller means he is an essential worker.
“That’s exactly what she told me. You are not an essential service,” Dux said.
His wife Amanda was shocked to hear that her husband had to stay at a Calgary hotel to quarantine while his co-worker was allowed to go home.
“This cannot be left to the discretion of a border guard when people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake,” said Amanda Dux.
Amanda said she’s angry about the idea of two people with the same company and same paperwork and arriving at the same time having different outcomes. She said her husband’s forced hotel stay makes her wonder what the future holds for Darcy and fellow workers who are expected to come home through Calgary this week.
“Because one got detained and one didn’t, there is now no clear path for any of the other essential workers to know what to do. Nobody knows what to do and that is my main issue. I’d like to have a plan. We would like to know what we’re doing so you can move forward.
“How can you move forward when nobody has a clue what’s going on?”
Public Safety Canada has a list of essential services on its website that includes energy and utilities. But it also states that they are not automatically exempt: “Workers performing duties in an essential service or function identified in this document are not automatically exempt from the Emergency Orders made under the Quarantine Act.”
Darcy and Amanda say this isn’t about financial compensation for the hotel stay. It’s about the need for clarity for all Canadian workers who depend on an income in the United States.
“Is he going to have to stop working in the States and now source another job in the oil patch in Alberta? Which is pretty much nonexistent at the moment. So this throws a lot of things up in the air that you cannot prepare for,” Amanda said.
The CBSA told Global News it is unable to provide comment on specific cases.
“CBSA border services officers have the authority to review, challenge and confirm travellers’ statements and direct them to a quarantine officer,” the CBSA said in an email statement.
“It is important to note that being considered an ‘essential worker’ or ‘essential employee’ in the province or municipality in which the person is seeking to enter, or by the individuals workplace, does not automatically mean the person is exempt.”