The Town and Gown Association of Ontario regularly advocates to provincial and federal levels of government on areas of interest that concern our members. All statements are drafted, reviewed, and approved by the Board of Directors. If you have an advocacy priority to suggest, please email email@example.com.
Statement on International Arrivals - March 11, 2021
Sent to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport
The Town and Gown Association of Ontario is the trusted coordinated voice for students, institutions, municipalities, first responders, residents, and property managers that live, work, and study in the over 30 communities across Ontario that host a college and/or university. We share information, facilitate connections, and mediate relationships among our diverse group of stakeholders to promote vibrant cohesive communities for everyone.
The Town and Gown Association of Ontario is concerned about the Federal Government’s new pandemic hotel quarantine policy and its impact on international students and post-secondary institutions. We recognize that the introduction of stricter quarantine measures is a necessary tool to disincentive recreational travel and protect Canadian communities. However, international students are not recreational travelers, rather, they are necessary and essential members of our campus communities and form a considerable portion of the student body. Yet, these students have not been exempted from the new hotel quarantine policy whereby costs can run over $2,000. Moreover, given the work that all universities went through from August to October 2020 to get on the list of Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) approved to receive international students, and the success of that program, we request international students be exempt from the hotel quarantine requirement. The testing and hotel quarantine come at a large unexpected cost that students or institutions will have to cover. If students have to pay, some will defer or decide to go elsewhere. We are asking for them to be excluded from the new rules, and continue with the 14-day quarantine process. The ideal scenario is an exemption explicitly included in the Order in Council.
The TGAO is also concerned that the 4 designated airports being designated as the only points of entry, and such that the initial 3-day quarantine could happen on residences of those post-secondary campuses in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver is fundamentally biased towards the largest institutions in Canada. With cost savings and border security being an understandable goal, this protocol would make it attractive for students to choose those post-secondary institutions located in one of these four cities, putting many other institutions across the country at a further disadvantage. This pandemic has already illustrated the economic advantages, through federal policy, that are afforded to very few communities in Canada. Returning to the quarantine policy for international students that allow them to remain in their host institution's community for the quarantine period is fundamentally a matter of justice and fairness for communities across Ontario.
Local public health units have yet to identify a single case linked to the arrival of international students in a community. In addition, this policy ignores the creation of an entire infrastructure for international students to arrive and isolate safely in Canada by way of the DLI process. Given many more students will likely arrive in the coming months for the Fall term, we request that the Federal Government exempt international students from the hotel quarantine requirement.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the incredible strength of town and gown relationships. Many universities and colleges have answered the call from public health and healthcare organizations to respond to this pandemic. They were among the first organizations to heed the Chief Public Health Officer’s request to physically distance, by closing campuses and moving to fully remote learning models. They have enabled their students to graduate early to join the healthcare effort. Medical faculty members have joined regular rotations in emergency rooms and recovery wards. Researchers are providing their expertise and launching studies to mitigate long-term impacts. Storage rooms have been emptied to provide much-needed personal protective equipment, beds, and respirators. Our institutional and local partners are ready, willing, and able to support the safe arrival and transition of international students into their respective communities.