People traveling to Canada from other countries must isolate for 14 days after arriving, unless they are an essential service worker or cross-border worker with federal and provincial travel exemptions.
The federal government decides who can enter Canada. Right now, people who are not Canadian citizens can only travel to Canada if they are eligible. Restrictions vary depending on the country from which someone is traveling.
Travel exemptions are required from both the federal government and provincial government, as both have legislation regarding the quarantine of travelers entering the country.
Learn more about federal travel exemptions.
Essential service worker sector exemptions
A series of industry sector exemptions are available to Albertans who provide essential services.
If you work in one of the following critical sectors, you may qualify for an exemption from quarantine restrictions:
- Agricultural, horticultural, and food safety
- Energy and utilities
- Evaluation activities and job creating projects
- Federal alignment exemption
- Petroleum, natural gas and coal
Each of these sector exemptions outlines the type of work that qualifies as an essential service. If the services you provide (or are in need of) qualify, your employer must provide you with a letter designating you as an essential service worker. You must also print a copy of the applicable above sector exemption and keep it with you.
Each of the sector exemptions outlines the conditions and restrictions you must follow during the first 14 days after entering Canada. Essential service workers are only exempt from provincial quarantine to attend worksites and provide these essential services during this period. You must follow all other quarantine requirements.
Although intended for foreign workers entering Canada to provide these services, the exemption may also apply to Canadians returning to Alberta after providing these services abroad if their services are needed within 14 days of returning to Canada.
Quality of life exemption
The quality of life exemption is an additional option for Alberta residents who work regular rotations or scheduled shifts outside of Canada and return to Alberta for their time off. This exemption allows cross-border workers, who are subject to frequent quarantine periods, some additional freedoms during these times, including leaving their place of quarantine to purchase groceries and engage in outdoor activities with family and other household members, for their mental, physical and personal wellbeing.
The quality of life exemption sets expectations for cross-border workers, including permitted and non-permitted activities while working abroad and conditions they must follow upon their return to Canada.
To be eligible for a quality of life exemption, cross-border workers must:
- be an essential service worker
- provide a schedule from their employer demonstrating that they travel to and from Canada on a routine and scheduled basis
- maintain a residence in Alberta which they return to after working outside Canada
- be granted a federal cross-border worker exemption upon entry to Canada
- commit to practicing the safety measures listed in Appendix A of the quality of life exemption while working abroad
- during the first 14 days upon entry to Canada, follow the restrictions and preventative measures listed in Appendix B of the quality of life exemption
If you qualify for a quality of life exemption, your employer must provide you with a letter designating you as an essential service worker. You must also print a copy of the quality of life exemption and keep it with you.
Entering Canada with travel exemptions
Upon arriving in Canada, you must identify yourself as either:
- an essential service worker, and outline the service you will be providing in Canada
- a cross-border worker, who crosses the border regularly to go to your normal place of employment
You must then present the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) agent a copy of the applicable provincial exemption along with the letter from your employer identifying your worksite and designating you as an essential service worker. If you are a cross-border worker, your letter must also include your regular work rotation. You may also present any additional documentation you have to further demonstrate your regular work rotation.
The CBSA agent will then either grant or deny your federal exemption.
If you are granted a federal essential services worker exemption or cross-border worker exemption, you are also exempt from COVID-19 testing requirements associated with international travel to Canada.
Appealing an exemption denial
The federal government makes the final decision to grant or deny an exemption.
If you are denied a federal exemption upon your arrival and are directed into quarantine, you can appeal the CBSA agent’s decision by calling 1-800-461-9999. You must follow all federal travel restrictions and quarantine requirements until the CBSA Task Force makes a decision on your case within 2 to 3 days. If your appeal is rejected – or you choose not to appeal – you must complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Monitoring for symptoms
If you have any symptoms during or after the 14-day quarantine period, or are confirmed to have COVID-19, you must isolate immediately and cannot leave your home or accommodation except for testing or medical appointments.
Testing can be booked online, or by calling 811 if you are not from Alberta and do not have an Alberta healthcare card.
Once the 14-day period is over, you must follow all current public health measures and guidelines that apply to all Albertans to help prevent the spread. No additional restrictions apply.
For more information about essential service worker sector exemptions and the quality of life exemption, contact [email protected].