Canada announced on March 25, 2020 that all individuals seeking to enter into Canada at any port of entry will be asked by CBSA to make the following declaration:
An Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act now requires that anyone entering Canada, whether by air, land, or sea, must self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of whether they are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19. By invoking the Quarantine Act, failure to comply with the Emergency Order becomes an offence under the Act, unless one can demonstrate they are an essential worker at this time.
Maximum penalties may include a fine of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months. Anyone who is found to cause risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person while willfully or recklessly contravening the Act or its regulations can be liable for up to $1,000,000 and/or imprisonment of up to three years. The Government has stated it will be conducting spot checks to verify compliance.
Implications for temporary and permanent residents
Failure to comply with the Emergency Order that results in conviction under the Quarantine Act could open the door to potential inadmissibility issues for temporary and permanent residents.
Permanent Residents: For a Canadian PR to be found inadmissible, there would need to be a finding of serious criminality under subsection 36(1) of the Immigration and Protection Act. If one were found to have willfully or recklessly contravened the Quarantine Act such that they were found to cause risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another, they would fall under this provision.
Temporary Residents: For those temporarily in Canada to visit, work, or study, there are additional circumstances that could lead to an inadmissibility finding. In addition to subsection 36(1) above concerning serious criminality, temporary residents would be found inadmissible under subsection 36(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act even if they are convicted under the lesser offences in the Quarantine Act.
Offences Committed Abroad
The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act contains inadmissibility provisions for crimes committed outside Canada if there are comparable Canadian laws. This opens the door to potential inadmissibility consequences to those who may be charged internationally for disobeying similar laws during this outbreak. At time of writing, Italian authorities have allegedly pressed charges against more than 40,000 individuals for violating their lockdown.
No known charges have been laid in Canada under the Quarantine Act concerning COVID-19, and enforcement officers have stated that charging individuals will be their last line of offence, preferring to rely on education first. However, as the Government’s becomes increasingly serious about self-isolation of recent travellers, that may change.