Exemption for International Technicians Supporting Essential Services

by Dr. Justine Taylor

Oct 22, 2020 Update on the Chief Public Health Officer Group exemption

  • An update to the Group Exemption under the federal Mandatory Isolation Order came into effect on October 9th. The exemption now clearly includes technicians entering Canada for the purposes of installation of equipment necessary to support critical infrastructure, including food.
  • This change means that these technicians no longer need to obtain a specific National Interest Exemption Letter to enter Canada. They still need to provide the proper documentation (i.e., visa, company letter, credentials)

Public Health Agency of Canada has provided an exemption for technicians delivering critical maintenance to essential services including agriculture:

Pursuant to paragraph 3(j)(ii)of the Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from any country other than the United States), issued pursuant to section 58 of the Quarantine Act, the Chief Public Health Officer may determine a class of persons who provide an essential service while in Canada.

As determined by the Chief Public Health Officer, at this time, the following class of persons are exempt:

  • Asymptomatic persons, including captains, deckhands, observers, inspectors, scientists and other persons supporting commercial or research fishing-related activities, who enter Canada aboard a “Canadian fishing vessel” or “foreign fishing vessel”, as these phrases are defined under section 2 of the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, for the purpose of carrying out fishing or fishing-related activities, including offloading of fish, repairs, provisioning the vessel and exchange of crew.
  • Technicians specified by a government, manufacturer, or company, as required to maintain or repair equipment necessary to support critical infrastructure (Energy and Utilities, Information and Communication Technologies, Finance, Health, Food, Water, Transportation, Safety, Government and Manufacturing).

Upon arriving at a point of entry into Canada, those who fall under the above categories, will not be prohibited from entering the country. By order of the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, these individuals must present an exemption form upon entering Canada. Additional documentation related to the essential service may also be requested.

Please be aware that the mandatory 14-day isolation period for asymptomatic people now required by the Public Health Agency of Canada does not apply to those who meet the exemption criteria. However, should any person – with no exception – arrive at the border exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, they are subject to the isolation orders issued by a Quarantine Officer under the Quarantine Act. This could include home isolation or even immediate referral to a health care facility. This is in the best interest of both the traveller and all other Canadians.

If you have questions related to who is exempt from the 14-day mandatory quarantine upon entry to Canada, including about the interpretation of the recent addition of technicians specified by manufacturer or the manufacturer warranty to maintain or repair equipment necessary to support critical infrastructure, we encourage you to contact PHAC at 1-833-784-4397 (interpretation services are available in multiple languages) or at phac.emergencyorder-decretdurgencecovid19.aspc@canada.ca. For more information, you can also consult PHAC’s website.

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