Content originally published by the Financial Post.
Canada’s two main airlines and its biggest airport are calling on the Canadian government to end mandatory COVID-19 testing at airports and shift those resources to communities where they are needed most.
Last month the government began ramping up testing of fully vaccinated travellers amid the outbreak of the COVID-19 variant Omicron. The CBC reports that it now has the capacity to test more than 20,000 arrivals daily.
The government pays for these tests, which range from $143 to $188, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The letter says that in the most recent week of reported data, more than 123,000 tests were taken at Canada’s airports with an average positivity rate of 3 per cent. The positivity rate in communities is running at 30 per cent and the number of cases could be higher because of the lack of tests, it said.
Instead of mass arrival testing, the airlines say the government should:
• Revert to surveillance arrival testing of international air passengers
• Require mandatory isolation for people arriving from an international location if they are exhibiting symptoms or test positive on a surveillance test
“Removing arrivals PCR testing from Toronto Pearson airport alone would free up 8,000 tests a day for the GTA, which will help keep our most vulnerable — those in long-term care, hospitals and our children attending school — safe,” said the letter.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said last week that the government will continue its commitment to mass-arrival testing.
“We have the responsibility to make sure that there is as little importation as possible of COVID-19 and Omicron cases across the border,” he said at a news conference Thursday.