Federal Update: New international travel measures

Submitted by Catherine McKenna, MP for Ottawa Centre

Vaccines continue to be our priority as a government, and we remain on track to vaccinate every Canadian who wants a shot by September. In positive news, all residents of long-term care in Ottawa were vaccinated at the beginning of February and vaccinations are ongoing for retirement residents, long-term care home staff, essential care givers and higher risk health care providers. We expect to receive six million doses by the end of March — four million from Pfizer and two million from Moderna. This will require a significant ramp-up by provinces and territories and we are working closely to support them in these critical efforts.

Since last spring, the federal government has strongly advised against non-essential travel; we put in place some of the strictest rules for international travellers globally. To prevent new cases of COVID-19 from coming to Canada, and to protect Canadians from new variants, the federal government announced strengthened travel measures which include further testing and quarantine requirements for international travellers arriving at Canada’s air and land ports of entry. The new measures will help prevent variants of concern from reaccelerating the pandemic and making it more difficult to contain. Our government continues to advise Canadians strongly to cancel or postpone any non-essential travel. Foreign nationals should likewise postpone or cancel travel plans to Canada. For more details on travel restrictions, visit travel.gc.ca/travel-covid.  

It’s been a busy month, and I have a few very exciting updates to share with you! 

In February, our government announced an investment of almost $15 billion starting this year for public transit and active transportation projects across the country, including the creation of a permanent public transit fund of $3 billion per year starting in 2026. Our government’s investment in public transit now, and into the future, will shorten commute times, create jobs and support Canadian companies, reduce emissions, make our air cleaner and help drive to net-zero emissions and transform cities and towns. This transformation is happening already in Ottawa, with the second phase of the LRT underway and with the announcement with Mayor Watson of federal funding for new electric buses.

The new Canada Healthy Communities Initiative that I launched this month, together with Community Foundations of Canada, will help Canadians enjoy safer, more vibrant and inclusive communities. This is a great opportunity for organizations and community groups in Ottawa to submit smaller, innovative projects (for federal funding between $5,000 and $250,000) that can improve the quality of life of residents throughout COVID-19 and beyond — anything from pop-up bike paths, to outdoor art installations, to community gardens or Wi-Fi hubs. The first round of applications is open until March 9. Visit the Community Foundations of Canada webpage at communityfoundations.ca or call 613-236-2664 for more details. 

Lastly, this is a very hard time for everyone with respect to mental health. I find going for a walk outside, skating on the canal or going for a ski on the SJAM trail really helps me — hopefully, many of you are able to enjoy our beautiful local nature as well. Remember that there are resources in Ottawa Centre that can provide support, such as the 24/7 Distress Line you can call at 613-238-2211 or text at 343-306-5550. Let’s keep supporting each other through this.

Please note that my constituency office continues to be virtually open and ready to assist. Call us at 613-946-8682 or email at catherine.mckenna@parl.gc.ca.

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