A Burlington, Ont. the father says he has been calling the federal government hotline since Friday to book a quarantine hotel for his daughter, who is flying home from Australia. But he can not pass.
Dave Buttrum says he was held on hold five times over the weekend and was disconnected each time after the three-hour mark. As of Tuesday, he has not had any luck. Now he is worried that his daughter could face a hefty fine for violating the government’s Quarantine Act.
The government’s quarantine plan for air travelers, he said, has been “absolute nonsense”.
“I can not understand how you should be compatible with a system if it crashes,” he said in an interview with Ontario Todayon on Monday.
Other travelers across the country are also experiencing these blocked phone lines and worry that they will not be able to secure a room before boarding their flight.
As of Monday, most people traveling to Canada by plane must stay pre-booked at a hotel to begin their quarantine. Reservations must be in hotels on a list approved by the government and the stay is up to three days.
Travelers must also make their reservation through a government hotline. There is no opportunity online.
Buttrum’s daughter has been in Australia on a travel visa since January 2020. She returns later this week after her health insurance expired.
While the Canadian Public Health Agency has said people should call the booking number only if their flight is scheduled within the next 48 hours, Buttrum says he is reluctant to wait given the delays he is experiencing right now.
“Do I take the chance for her to take the board?” He said, noting that there was also a risk that his daughter would also be fined.
“It’s an exercise in utter frustration. They have implemented this system. They have not put the right resources or thought into it and it is not absolutely functional.”
The Canada Public Health Agency told CBC News that the maximum penalties for breaking theAct of quarantineinclude a fine of up to $ 750,000 and / or six months in prison.
Discretion on fines
During a COVID-19 update Tuesday, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said it would depend on officers’ discretion with the Canadian Border Services Agency whether or not to accuse people who have made efforts but could not reach anyone for to book a hotel room
LeBlanc said he expects discretion to be used intelligently, but also that Canadians take the necessary precautions before their arrival.
Buttrum said there is no issue with the desire to meet or with fulfilling the mandated 14-day quarantine.
He said he understands the federal government’s intent, but does not necessarily agree with the hotel quarantine, especially in light of issues with its implementation.
“I hope she can pass,” Buttrum said.
He also added that the government should not “penalize Canadians” who are trying to return home.
He said his daughter booked many home flights in recent months, which fell three times after parts of her route to Canada were canceled by airlines. Earlier in the pandemic, flights were costing thousands of dollars, he said, even close to $ 9,000 at one point.
Since his daughter was in a safe area, he said, it was a better decision to stay there.
CBC News met with local Buttrum MP Pam Damoff (Oakville-North Burlington) about advice to other Burlington residents, but was told to speak with the Canada Public Health Agency.
An email from a spokeswoman in her office for Buttrum says the center received over 27,000 calls every day over the weekend. He added additional operators to answer questions, as well as agents to book hotels.
“These waiting times are expected to decrease over the next week, however demand remains high,” the spokesman wrote.
“At this point you and your daughter should keep calling until you can cross. To ease the load they are asking everyone to wait up to 48 hours before their flights, but I understand the stress of making it booked as soon as possible “
The hotel is responsible for transporting passengers from the airport, and equipping them with three nights that meet the requirements of the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as needs including meals, telephone and Wi-Fi.
He must also report information about the person’s check-in, check-out and compliance withAct of quarantine.
Here are the telephone lines for the hotel room reservation system. They are open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week: 1-800-294-8253 (toll free within North America) or 1-613-830-2992 (collected outside North America)
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