Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has agreed to let a cabinet order enforcing mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements at the Canadian border expire at the end of this month.
The decision was confirmed by two senior government sources, who spoke to The Canadian Press on the condition they not be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The change will also bring an end to COVID-19 border testing, which is currently mandatory for unvaccinated international travellers and random for those who are vaccinated.
Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault would not confirm the decision Thursday afternoon, but he said if the order is allowed to expire, that would also eliminate the only mandatory component for the ArriveCan app.
“So the mandatory piece is the vaccine piece, and because that’s how people prove it through the ArriveCan, that’s how the order is written, from what I remember,” he said on his way into a cabinet meeting.
ArriveCan began as a way for travellers to report their vaccination status and provide pre-departure test results to the Canada Border Services Agency. But it has morphed into a digitized border arrival tool, and now people flying into certain airports can use it to fill out their customs and immigration form instead of the paper version.
Cabinet first ordered international travellers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 a year ago, and has renewed that order about every three months.
The latest version will expire Sept. 30 and will not be renewed.
The sources say the full cabinet does not need to sign off on a decision to let an existing order expire. One of them confirmed Trudeau has signed off on the plan.
The federal government is still deciding whether to maintain the requirement for passengers to wear face masks on trains and airplanes. That rule is not contained in the same cabinet order as the border vaccine requirement, but rather is a ministerial order given by the minister of Transport.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2022.
Mia Rabson and Laura Osman in Ottawa