Four nationwide curiosity exemptions to COVID-19 border restrictions, overlaying greater than 1,300 skilled athletes, have been issued by the federal immigration minister, his workplace confirmed.
The particulars got here after MPs on the House of Commons immigration committee had been informed by departmental officers that the exemptions had been issued.
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino’s workplace was pressured to make clear late Wednesday the small print of the nationwide curiosity exemptions he is licensed after the quantity surfaced at a House of Commons immigration committee listening to earlier within the day.
Mendicino was grilled on how many individuals had been allowed into Canada utilizing the exemption, which admits those that do not qualify below present COVID-19 associated restrictions, or to skip the obligatory 14-day quarantine after they arrive.
Who has entry to that program has been a supply of public debate, particularly all through the summer season and fall as hundreds of households positioned sustained public stress on Mendicino to loosen the border restrictions to permit extra households to reunite.
Several ministers and senior public well being officers can authorize exemptions.
When requested Wednesday by Conservative MP Raquel Dancho what number of exemptions he had licensed, Mendicino deferred to his departmental officers, who informed the committee 1,300 had been granted.
His workplace later mentioned the official “misspoke” and the determine displays the 1,354 individuals coated by 4 nationwide curiosity exemptions Mendicino authorized: two for the National Hockey League (one for gamers, the second for workforce officers,) one for pre-season coaching for Major League Baseball and one for Major League Soccer.
They had been all exempt from quarantine as a result of their leagues had COVID-19 mitigation plans cleared by public well being.
Minister to assessment instances
How the exemptions have been used is one in every of a number of points being raised as MPs study the consequences the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the immigration system.
The preliminary border closure guidelines meant that solely important employees and a really restricted record of members of the family of residents of everlasting residents may enter Canada.
Family members not coated by these exemptions, together with grownup youngsters, common-law spouses, grandparents and siblings grew to become more and more vocal about being shut out, noting there wasn’t sufficient freedom given even for compassionate instances, akin to members of the family being close to loss of life.
Mendicino relented in October and launched a brand new program to facilitate entry for extra members of the family and a compassionate program. Later, he additionally pledged utility selections could be made inside 14 days.
Opposition MPs pressed him Wednesday on that dedication, with each the NDP and Conservatives saying they had been conscious of many individuals who weren’t receiving selections by that deadline, nor any steerage from the division on after they would possibly.
Mendicino promised to assessment particular instances.
About 19,000 of 29,000 requests have been determined upon up to now, in keeping with the immigration division. And about 80 per cent of the requests have been accomplished inside the 14-day interval. The remaining functions are both incomplete or produce other points.
Processing time is presently round 11 days and a further workforce of 30 workers had been added to this system final week.