A Montreal-area woman is speaking out against how she says her mother was treated by federal officials when she returned to Canada from the United States.
Sandrine Tewfik’s snowbird mom drove across the border thinking she would not be subject to a mandatory hotel quarantine. She was wrong, and Tewfik thinks the government should have made an exception.
“I’m ashamed. I was crying this morning,” Tewfik told Global News. “They showed no mercy when my mom was crying and begging to go home.”
Tewfik’s mother and her husband spent the past six months in Florida. In order to avoid being forced to quarantine in a hotel upon their return, they chose to drive back instead of fly.
People who cross the border by land are subjected to a 14-day quarantine at their homes. When travelling to Canada by air, people must quarantine in a government-designated hotel until receiving a negative COVID-19 test.
According to Tewfik, both individuals received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine while in Florida and got their COVID-19 tests in the United States. The couple did not realize, however, they needed to be at the Canadian border within 72 hours of their negative test. They were nine hours late.
“The reason it had been 81 hours is because they are seniors travelling with a dog,” Tewfik explained.
The snowbirds were directed toward one of the quarantine hotels near Trudeau Airport by border officials. They must stay at their own expense until getting another negative test.
Tewfik thinks officials should have made an exception for the fully-vaccinated couple.
“I think they should have showed a little bit of humanity. These are older people who have not left their backyard in the last six months. They’ve gone absolutely nowhere. They’ve seen no one,” she said.
She alleges border agents mocked her mother as she pleaded with them to let her go home.
“They were all laughing at them. They were all humiliating them. They were incredibly rude. They were unprofessional,” Tewfik claims.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said it could not comment on the specific case, but that it takes public complaints very seriously.
“Complaints alleging employee misconduct are reviewed and investigated and, where employee misconduct is confirmed, corrective measures may be applied as necessary,” CBSA spokesperson Louis-Carl Brissette Lesage said in an email.
Adding insult to injury, in the coming weeks the government is reportedly set to drop the hotel quarantine obligation for fully vaccinated Canadians returning to the country.
“That’s basically the cherry on top,” she said.
The Public Health Agency of Canada said due to privacy concerns it does not comment on specific cases, and pointed Global News to a website with the regulations for returning travelers.
Dr. Christopher Labos, a Montreal cardiologist with a degree in epidemiology, said he understand why agents would not make the exception.
“Are there going to be situations where the controls may not have been absolutely necessary? Yes. It’s definitely the case. It becomes a question of ‘would you rather be safe than sorry?'” he said.
Toufik is planning to file a complaint with the CBSA.View link »