Federal Court Weighs In On Mandatory Quarantine Upon Re-entering Canada

Published date29 November 2020
Subject MatterCoronavirus (COVID-19), Government Measures, Employment and Workforce Wellbeing
Law FirmNorton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP
AuthorMr Brian R. Daley, Chantal Arsenault and John Greiss

To contain the spread of COVID-19, the federal government has imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine for individuals re-entering Canada, with certain exemptions in place.

After being denied an exemption from quarantine upon return from a short work-related visit in the United States, a Canadian citizen filed an application for judicial review of the quarantine order, coupled with a motion for an interlocutory injunction or stay. On November 12 in Monsanto v. Canada (Health)1, the Federal Court dismissed the applicant's motion.

The legislative backdrop

On October 30, 2020, the Governor-in-Council issued the seventh iteration of the order titled Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Mandatory Isolation)2 (the Order), as authorized under s. 58 of the Quarantine Act.3 Paragraph 3(1)(a) of the Order requires any person who enters Canada and who does not have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 to self-quarantine until the expiry of the 14-day period that begins on the day on which the person enters Canada.

The Order also provides for a number of exemptions to the mandatory quarantine. Paragraph 6(n) exempts persons from mandatory quarantine if they enter Canada:

to return to their habitual place of residence after carrying out an everyday function that, due to geographical constraints, necessarily involves entering the United States.

The facts

The applicant was a Mississauga resident who was a videographer employed by Rebel News Network Ltd., a Canadian online news outlet. Rebel News sent the applicant to cover a United States election campaign event in Michigan. The employer provided the applicant with a signed letter that explained the purpose of the visit and stated he was exempt from quarantine, pursuant to paragraph 6(n) of the Order.

Upon re-entry into Canada, a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer refused to exempt the applicant on the basis that the exemption in paragraph 6(n) did not apply to the applicant.

The applicant filed an application for judicial review of the CBSA officer's decision. He then filed an urgent motion for an interlocutory injunction or stay pending the judicial review, seeking to end the ongoing effect of the quarantine order applied to him.

The motion for an interlocutory injunction or stay

After determining that the court had the appropriate jurisdiction to hear the motion, the court applied the three-stage approach set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in RJR-MacDonald4 to decide whether to issue...

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