Kenora MP Eric Melillo says he’s glad to see federal PCR testing requirements end at Canadian border crossings today, but he’s questioning the timing of the move.

During Adjournment Sessions at the House of Commons, Melillo noted he questioned federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos on when mandatory PCR testing will end at the border early this month, but says the Minister dodged the question.

Just two weeks later, Duclos announced that as of April 1, COVID-19 testing will no longer be required for fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada.

“I’m certainly pleased to see the government has taken the action which I called for, but it is too little too late for many tourism operators,” said Melillo.

“The lack of transparency and the lack of an ability for this government to provide clear information to Canadians at this point in the pandemic is especially frustrating for me and for many across northwestern Ontario,” he adds.

Melillo later questioned what changed the government’s decision within that two-week window, and if new scientific evidence was brought forward to support their decision.

“And if there was no new evidence that was brought forward,” Melillo continued. “I’d like an explanation from the government on why they weren’t able to be transparent with Canadians.”

In response, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Mental Health and Dependence and Associate Minister of Health, Elisabeth Briere, says the government is continuing to follow scientific data and advice.

“The health and safety of Canadians continue to be our top priority and our actions at our border reflect that,” said Briere. “The evolution of data of the COVID-19 situation in Canada and internationally is what dictates our actions.”

Briere notes that the general Canadian population is mostly fully-vaccinated and the access to rapid tests is still growing, but there is still a risk for any international travellers and measures at border crossings may have to be re-evaluated.

As well, pre-entry testing requirements are not changing for partially or unvaccinated travellers, meaning they would still need to provide either a negative rapid antigen test, a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours or a previous positive PCR test taken between 10 and 180 days prior to their flight.

Melillo says the government is still refusing to provide their scientific evidence, noting Ottawa still has a number of federal mandates in place, which includes mandatory vaccines for members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

But for now, all travellers continue to be required to submit their mandatory information in the ArriveCAN app or website before their arrival in Canada. Travellers taking a cruise or a plane must submit their information within 72 hours before boarding.

Those who do not may have to quarantine for 14 days, regardless of their vaccination status. Previously, not completing the ArriveCAN app lead to you not being allowed entry into the country.

As well, fully vaccinated travellers may still be chosen for random COVID-19 PCR testing, but you no longer have to quarantine while waiting for your results.

Residents are asked not to travel if they have any symptoms of COVID-19, are in isolation, are waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test or have been in close contact with a suspected or confirmed case.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, says travelers should complete a risk assessment of where they’re going and research the risk of contracting COVID-19 in that setting, to take any of your or your family’s underlying health conditions into consideration and to consult with your healthcare provider ahead of time.

Ottawa says if you start to feel COVID-19 symptoms after travelling, self-isolate for 10 days and follow local public health advice regarding seeking care or medical treatment. Ottawa says residents are warned that they may have to extend their trip to accommodate this.

Ottawa notes extended wait times can be expected at border crossings. Executive Director of Ontario’s Sunset Country Travel Association, Gerry Cariou, has said the government’s previous border crossing requirements were a large barrier for American tourists.

Briere adds Ukrainian refugees continue to be admitted into Canada, even if they don’t meet vaccination requirements.