Travellers may have been 'erroneously ticketed' crossing the border under new rules
Trina Brady lives close to the border, has a Nexus card, is fully vaccinated and the recipient of a whopping $5,750 fine that she believes is a mistake.
When she heard news that federal Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair had declared some B.C. residents living in border towns could cross into the United States and get gas and groceries, and return home without a needing a negative PCR test, she decided to make the trip.
Brady left her home Monday morning and went through the Pacific Highway Crossing. She told CTV News she bought some gas, two jugs of milk and a block of cheese. When she lined up to get back home, she noticed the car in front of her turned around.
That struck her as odd, but she continued on.
She said she presented her documents to a border agent – Nexus card, proof of immunization and receipts – and then was asked if she had a PCR test.
"I said, 'No, I don't require one,'" Brady explained.
That's when she was directed inside the building and told there was a "misunderstanding". Brady was given a $5,750 fine for violating the Quarantine Act, and a take-home COVID-19 test. She was ordered to quarantine until that test came home negative, or wait 10 days after a positive test.
"I think it's ridiculous, because I think the information is out there."
Over the weekend, Blair announced the exemption for travellers. On Sunday afternoon, Canada Border Services Agency tweeted out: "Given the situation in B.C., travellers and essential workers who must travel to or through the USA for essential reasons (food, fuel, supply chains) are exempt from testing and quarantine requirements. These exemptions do not apply to non-essential travel."
Brady believes she qualifies for the exemption and she blames a disconnect.
Monday, B.C. Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth re-affirmed travellers could go to the United States to get fuel or groceries without a negative PCR test. Ottawa is providing the exemption at B.C.’s request.
In a statement to CTV News on Monday afternoon, Farnworth said he spoke with Minister Blair, adding, "It is my understanding, that in some instances, British Columbians may have been erroneously ticketed while travelling for valid and essential reasons such as accessing fuel and food."
Farnworth said he plans to follow up with his federal counterpart to clear up any outstanding fines.
CBSA issued the following statement:
"Given the current situation in B.C., travellers and essential workers who must travel to or through the United States to get to their residence in Canada, short trips to access necessities such as such as groceries, diapers, baby formula, fuel and medications, or ensure that essential services and economic supply chains continue, are exempt from the COVID-19 pre-arrival test, the test in Canada, and quarantine requirements."
Brady says she wasn't the only one ticketed and placed in quarantine. She believes an apology should be issued and all outstanding tickets should be cancelled. She said she heard other disgruntled travellers behind her, so she knows she's not alone.
"All of this should be reversed."
CTV News reached out to the Public Health Agency of Canada for comment but did not hear back by deadline.
Brady feels frustrated, adding she was trying to do the right thing.
"I have a Nexus card," she told CTV News. "I have the ability to cross the border and fill up my gas tank, which allows the locals and the people that don't have that flexibility, more fuel at the pumps here. So why stand in the way of that?"
A previous version of this story suggested CBSA issued the ticket. It was a CBSA officer who first spoke to Trina Brady, but the ticket was issued by PHAC.