Ontario Now Offering Free Voluntary COVID-19 Testing To International Travelers

Ontario is now offering free, voluntary COVID-19 testing to international travelers arriving and staying in the province for at least fourteen (14) days.

The announcement was made at Pearson International Airport, Canada’s leading airport, by Premier Doug Ford.

The pilot project launched by the Government of Ontario started January 6 and aims to quickly spot and stop the spread of coronavirus in the province.

More than 60,000 international passengers arrive at Pearson International Airport each week, including a large number of temporary workers, international students, and permanent residents who are coming to Canada.

According to a news report from the Ontario provincial government, this pilot project “will test, track and help pick out cases of COVID-19 at an early stage and is a major step toward protecting [Canada’s] borders.”

Those who meet the eligibility requirements will be able to pre-register for the COVID-19 testing program or register to participate when they arrive at the Pearson airport.

Those who choose to take part in the newly introduced pilot project will get a free self-collected PCR test and will be assessed by a health care provider, either by video or in person, when they self-administer the test. Controlled self-administered tests will be carried out in a convenient, dedicated area within the premises of the airport.

Test results will be available within forty-eight (48) hours on the Ontario Laboratory Information System and the public health unit will follow up in the event of a positive test. These tests will not exempt travelers from mandatory quarantine when they arrive.

It should be noted that all international travellers arriving in or returning to Canada must meet the 14-day federal mandatory quarantine requirement, whether they test negative or positive for COVID-19.

This program is in addition to the Canadian government’s new measure, which came into effect on Jan. 7, requiring travelers entering Canada to prove that they have tested negative for the virus within three days of traveling and arriving in Canada. Travelers are required to organize their own pre-departure screening using the means available at their place of departure.

Ontario government has also stated it will continue to work with the federal government to possibly launch a modified quarantine period for those who tests negative for Covid-19.

A similar screening pilot project for COVID-19 was launched in November at the Calgary International Airport, in Alberta.

According to Alberta Health Services, the pilot project has been successful and will continue despite new screening measures announced in recent weeks by the Canadian government.

Canada’s borders are closed to most foreign travelers until at least January 21, 2021, with a number of exemptions.