As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on the air industry and how Canadians travel across Canada, the government of Canada is making it clear that it’s committed to addressing new and emerging challenges and implementing measures to protect Canadians’ health and reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19.
To that end, Canada’s Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau has announced that Transport Canada, provincial and territorial governments, public health authorities, and Canada’s largest air carriers have established a consistent approach for air carriers to collect and share passenger information necessary to alert Canadians of possible COVID-19 exposure while travelling by air, in compliance with applicable privacy legislation.
This would facilitate timely contact tracing and exposure notification for passengers on domestic flights.
The national enhanced notification process is a key improvement that allows contact tracing to be done in a more consistent manner across all jurisdictions.
It will ensure that the Public Health Agency of Canada is able to post on their website, in a timely and consistent fashion, information related to flights where passengers have been potentially exposed to an individual with COVID-19.
If a public health authority deems it necessary to conduct contact tracing by notifying passengers directly of possible COVID-19 exposure, complete and accurate passenger contact information will be readily available from Canada’s largest air carriers.
Provincial and territorial public health authorities maintain authority and decision-making over contact tracing while the Public Health Agency of Canada provides guidance.
Transport Minister, Garneau said that: “As Canada continues to work towards the safe re-opening of its borders and as we take steps to strengthen our air transportation network, public health remains at the forefront.”
He continued: “I thank the provincial and territorial governments, the public health authorities, and Canada’s air carriers who came together to address this emerging issue.”
The minister pointed out that: “Contact tracing and exposure notification is a key tool to assist health officials in their role to limit the spread of the virus, and this enhanced process will provide an additional layer of measures to help protect for those travelling by air domestically.”
Under the enhanced process:
- Passengers will be asked to provide their contact information, such as email and/or phone number, at check-in for the purposes of facilitating contact tracing and/or exposure notification where necessary.
- If a risk of COVID-19 exposure has been identified, Public health authorities will determine whether a contact trace of passengers is needed and/or how to directly notify potentially exposed passengers.
- Individuals may also consult the Public Health Agency of Canada website to see whether their flight was affected.
Transport Canada has strong relationships with key industry stakeholders and acts as a facilitator between industry partners and public health colleagues in the deployment of this enhanced process.
The Government of Canada commends the initiative taken by Canada’s air carriers to support the development of this nationally consistent approach, and for their proactive role in implementing it.
As part of the improved process, passengers will be asked to provide contact information when they check-in for their flight with large Canadian air carriers.