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Random selection for Covid 19 testing – a cautionary tale

This blog contains the unedited posts of Ukrainians who successfully moved to Victoria, BC, and/or their hosts. Content posted with permission. For privacy we are keeping them anonymous. The opinions expressed in the blog are those of the author and are neither supported nor endorsed by the moderators of this website.
The email referred to in the post can be found at the bottom of the page.

Ukrainian refugees F&A arrived Thursday April 28 at YVR. They were fully vaccinated and although there is the possibility that they could have been randomly selected for Covid testing on arrival, that did not happen and they cleared Immigration with no problems.
At 6:32 AM on Sunday May 1 (2-1/2 days after arrival) they received an email from the Government of Canada stating that they were “required by law to follow any applicable quarantine and testing obligations” and continued that “they were selected for random testing and they must complete a day 1 Covid 19 molecular test within 24 hrs of entering Canada!
This email continued to describe “immediate isolation from other people for 10 days and later stated a potential fine of up to $5000 for failure to comply. Only after closer reading of this poorly prepared and rather disturbing email did we begin to feel that isolation may only be required following a positive result, but that inference was hard to perceive on first and even second reading and we were still not 100% sure.
It seemed obvious to the host family this Government email must be in error as-
1. They entered Canada without receiving an instruction for Covid testing, and –
2. The instruction to complete a test within 24 hrs of entering Canada was received 2-1/2 days after entry, and –
3. Reference to the Government web site travel.gc.ca states clearly that if an “On arrival Covid test is stipulated, only the test kit issued at the time at the airport must be used. No other test kit can be used.” No such test kit was issued to F&A.
The host family of F&A then compiled a polite response explaining that we believed that the Government email must be in error for the 3 reasons stated above.  This email bounced back as undeliverable as the address to which it was sent is only for the Government to send emails, not to receive them.
Confused and concerned, the host family called the Public Health Authority of Canada (PHAC) to explain the issue. After a lengthy hold on the phone PHAC advised us that although random testing can be mandated at the point of arrival, PHAC also retain the privilege of later mandating a test. They acknowledged the contradictory information on the different government platforms and the duplication of responsibilities but seemed unconcerned and stressed to us the importance of following the emailed instruction under threat of a large fine.
The only good news that PHAC offered was confirmation that quarantine is only necessary in the event of a positive test result.
We then commenced the complicated process of obtaining a test kit which PHAC stipulate must be arranged through LifeLabs. After a lengthy process we were able to get an appointment at a remote Life Labs clinic the next day. On arrival we were told they cannot issue test kits from their clinics but they can only be ordered on their web site! Back home we spent a frustrating 2 hrs trying to navigate a confusing LifeLabs web site which continually assumed we wanted the test kit to leave Canada, not for arrival!  We are still unsure that we have completed this on line request properly as we are still awaiting delivery.
We understand that upon receipt of the kit F&A must call up a certified verification nurse on Zoom and conduct the tests under the nurse’s surveillance before delivering the completed test kit to a LifeLabs clinic for processing. Just hope this all works out without a $5000 fine!
We hope this can prevent others going through the same unwelcome stress.
Host: MB

Subject: Reminder: COVID-19 Testing and Public Health Measures Following Travel / Rappel: Test COVID-19 et mesures de santé publique suivant un voyage
To: (name omitted for privacy)

Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada
La version française suit

An Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act that applies to all travellers arriving in Canada is currently in force.This message is to remind you that you are required, by law, to follow any applicable quarantine and testing obligations.
According to our records, you were selected for Mandatory Randomized Testing. This means you MUST complete a Day 1 COVID-19 Molecular Test within 24 hours of entering Canada. If you have not completed your test, contact the appropriate testing provider based on where you entered Canada (listed below). Please note that, if you travelled with any unvaccinated children between the ages of 5 and 11, they MUST also complete a Day 1 COVID-19 Molecular Test.

For the 14 days after you entered Canada, if you or your children who were required to test receive a positive result for the day 1 COVID-19 molecular test or develop symptoms:You / they must immediately isolate from other members of the household for a period of 10 days that starts from the day the person(s) swabbed their nose (in the case of a positive test result), or developed symptoms, even if your province or territory has a shorter isolation period and; You must report your positive test and/or your child(ren)’s positive test or symptoms to the Minister of Health by calling 1-833-641-0343;Any unvaccinated person who travelled with you and your child(ren) must begin a new 14 day quarantine period that starts on the day they were most recently exposed to you or the child(ren), even if your province or territory has a shorter isolation period.

A screening officer may contact you to confirm your compliance with these requirements. You are required to answer all phone calls from 1-888-336-7735. Failure to comply may result in fines of up to $5000 per infraction and/or transfer to a designated quarantine facility.

We urge you to be diligent in meeting these requirements; this will help slow the spread of the virus and save lives.
Thank you for continuing to do your part!

FOR MORE INFORMATION, please consult the handout.
General Inquiries1-833-784-4397 or canada.ca/coronavirusTest Inquiries – contact the service provider that is responsible for the jurisdiction in which you arrived into Canada:

Yukon, British Columbia, Saskatchewan
LifeLabs 1-877-313-4982
[email protected]
Alberta, Ontario, Atlantic
Switch Health 1-888-966-6531
[email protected]
Biron 1-866-382-0287
Temporary Foreign Workers entering through Quebec are required to contact Dynacare at 1-888-988-1888
Dynacare 1-855-497-1071 or [email protected]

The personal information you provide to the Government of Canada is governed in accordance with the Privacy Act.For more details on how your personal information is collected, used and disclosed by the Public Health Agency of Canada to administer and enforce the Quarantine Act and the Emergency Orders made under it, please visit this website: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/corporate/stay-informed-stay-connected/canarrive-privacy-notice.html.

Symbol of the Government of Canada / Symbole du gouvernement du Canada
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