Too many exploiting border loophole: premier

Premier Doug Ford speaks during a Zoom news conference from the back yard of his Etobicoke home on Friday, April 30, 2021. Ford says too many people returning to Ontario are exploiting a loophole to avoid a federally-mandated quarantine. (Premier of Ontario/Zoom via Newswatch Group)

ETOBICOKE – Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he will do everything in his power to try and secure the province’s “porous” borders and stop those travellers exploiting a loophole.

During a noon news conference in the back yard of his Etobicoke home Friday, Ford says too many returning Ontarians are trying to get around quarantining for three days at a federally-approved hotel while they await a COVID-19 test result.

“Last week, the new Indian variant was reported here in Ontario and it didn’t swim here I can tell you that,” Ford said.

But land and air borders are federal jurisdiction. The premier says he was on a call last night with other premiers and the prime minister where he pleaded with Justin Trudeau to do more.

Ford would like to see mandatory pre-departure testing for inter-provincial flights arriving in Ontario.

“I assure you, if I had the power, I would close down Pearson Airport immediately. I would shut down the land border crossings to only those who are absolutely essential,” he said.

In a letter to Federal Safety Minister Bill Blair, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott identifies “Brockville” as one of those “highest traffic” border crossings.

The premier is worried that a vaccine-resistant variant of concern will eventually make its way into the province and fuel a fourth wave.

“As long as you can fly to Buffalo, take a taxi or limo to the U.S. border and walk across to Canada to avoid having to quarantine in a hotel. As long as these massive loopholes exist, we’re not safe from these new variants. I will not let this issue go because too much is at stake,” Ford said.

“Too many people are exploiting the loophole,” Ford said.

Roughly 90 per cent of all new COVID-19 cases in Ontario are variants of concern (VOCs).