The Canada Border Services Agency is stepping up screening measures at airports and other entry points to the country to help stop the spread of COVID-19. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Following complaints, border agents step up screening protocols

Following complaints by workers and travellers–notably at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport–that screening questions for incoming travellers were not stringent enough, the Canada Border Services Agency says it is adding new ones.

The CBSA says automated questionnaires will now ask whether people have coughs, have difficulty breathing or are feeling feverish.

They will also require people coming from outside the country to acknowledge that they are being asked to self-isolate for two weeks to keep COVID-19 from spreading after complaints that officers were not routinely providing that directive to new arrivals.

Following complaints, Canadian Border Services Agency officers are adding questions for incoming travellers. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

The CBC’s Kathleen Harris reports that other beefed-up border measures include:

  • Enhanced officer presence at major points of entry to carry out public health screening and public health outreach by observing arriving travellers and making sure they’re aware of Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) guidelines. CBSA officers will approach any traveller displaying signs of illness for further questioning and will distribute PHAC pamphlets to raise more awareness about COVID-19.
  • Instructional handouts will be given to all travellers arriving in Canada advising them to self-isolate at home for 14 days, monitor themselves for symptoms and to contact public health authorities if they develop symptoms.
  • Increased signage will be displayed at all ports of entry for travellers to see throughout processing so travellers understand the importance of monitoring their health and contacting their provincial health authorities if they become ill.
  • Travellers will be asked to fill out a PHAC coronavirus form, which will help health authorities monitor and track people who have been identified as a potential concern.
  • Mask kits will be given to travellers “of concern,” which includes a surgical mask and a one-page instruction on how to use the mask.

The union that represents the border agents was scheduled to meet with the agency on Monday after a CBSA officer at Pearson tested positive for the coronavirus.

A spokesperson for the agency says the officer is currently in isolation at home.

The agency says it is notifying all employees who may have had contact with the officer and taking steps to clean up the area where the employee worked.

With files from CBC (Kathleen Harris Laura Clementson) CP 

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