Toronto,: Ontario has sought a ban on the arrival of new international students in the province. Currently, students from India make up the majority of international students studying in Ontario.
Premier Doug Ford said that since 94 per cent of all new cases in Ontario are of new variant of the virus and are coming from outside, he was urging the federal government to ban the arrival of International students into the province to check the spread of the virus.
The Premier said, “Not enough is being done to keep these deadly variants out of Canada. Last week, the new Indian variant was reported here in Ontario. It didn’t swim here, I can tell you that.”
He added: “We will never get ahead of this virus if we can’t keep these deadly new variants out of our country,” he said. “The borders – land and air – they’re federal jurisdiction.”
International students are at this time exempted from Canada’s COVID-19 travel rules. All students are required to provide a valid study permit or a letter of introduction that shows they were approved for a permit.
Responding to Ford’s request during premier’s call, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that his government would do everything to stop the spread of the virus.
Trudeau said, “Premier Ford has asked that we should suspend the arrival of international students and because at this time Ontario is the only province making this request, we are happy to work narrowly with them.”
“Many provinces feel that they’re doing a good job of managing these students, and that they’re not a huge source of cases,” Trudeau said. “But last night, Premier Ford told me that he wanted us to suspend the arrival of international students coming into Ontario.”
In a letter earlier sent to Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair and Minister of Health Patty Hadju, Premier Ford noted there were reports of international travellers booking flights to nearby U.S. airports and then either driving or walking across the border.
“With several land border crossings between the United States and the Province of Ontario, this loophole represents a significant threat to the health and well-being of Ontarians due to the potential for further entry of COVID-19 variants into the province,” the letter said.
It was signed by Solicitor General Sylvia Jones and Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott.
Trudeau also said that there were already tight controls at land borders, including tests before and after crossing and a mandatory two-week quarantine “We know that importation through the borders is extremely low in terms of cases in the country,” he said.
“We have seen that this third wave is very much around community transmission.”
Canada banned all direct flights from India for one month earlier this week, after Health Canada statistics found many passengers from India were testing positive for the virus.
There were 219,855 Indian students in Canada last year, making up about a third of all 642,480 foreign students. The majority of them study in institutions in Ontario.