Describing Canada’s current COVID testing for international travelers as Kafkaesque is an overstatement, but only because the system smacks more of Monty Python.
This is what happened when I returned to Canada on Thursday 21st April.
Return to Canada: Thursday
No Covid tests are currently required for fully vaccinated travelers, but a test may be required upon arrival if the traveler is randomly selected.
I landed at 16h00 on Thursday 21st, breezed through customs, and left the airport.
Some travelers had been sent down another escalator, following a sign saying ‘Covid test’, or words to that effect. I assumed that these were the people who had been randomly selected for ‘on-arrival’ tests.
Four days after landing: Monday
I received a call from an anonymous number (1-888-336-7735) at around 9.00am on Monday. I don’t pick up anonymous calls.
At 10.00am, just as I was entering my first meeting, the same number called again.
At 11.00am, just before my next meeting, the same number called again. I picked up, and heard the first words of a great scam, something like: “This is a call from Canada border services, don’t terminate the call”. I terminated the call.
At around 12.00, I was in yet another meeting, the same number called. Again, I was busy, and unwilling to be scammed.
Five days after landing: Tuesday
I received another call from the anonymous number at around 9.00am. At about 9.35 it calls again: this time I am relatively free, and decide to listen.
After plowing through a slow menu, I discover that I have been selected for an ‘on-arrival’ COVID test, and that I should contact my COVID test supplier. If I don’t, the slow computer threatens, I could be fined up to $5000, and be subjected to other nasty things.
An ‘on-arrival’ test? Five days after landing? Really???
My COVID test supplier? Which one? I have so many COVID test suppliers.
Five days after landing: Tuesday – conversation with a human
The moronic computer did provide a number to call: 1-833-784-4397. I got through to someone fairly quickly, who confirmed that ‘on-arrival’ tests can take place any time, and that my COVID supplier is the monopolistic Biron. “They will send you a kit, and you can take the test at home”.
So I call Biron. I get through quite quickly, but at first the lady who answered had no idea what I was talking about. She went away to check, and after about 5 minutes discovered that, indeed, Biron performs ‘on-arrival’ tests after arrival. “When do you want to come to the lab for the test?” she asks.
“But don’t you just send a kit: the Government of Canada just told me?”
“Oh no! New regulations have been implemented this morning, and now post-arrival on-arrival tests must be done in lab.”
I consulted my agenda, and we zero in on Tuesday morning, 3rd May, at 7.30am (which will be 12 days after landing).
Six days after landing
I received calls from the anonymous number at around 9.00am, 10.00am, 11.00am and 12.00am, at which point I blocked the number.
If I get fined, so be it, but what more can I do?
Twelve days after landing: time for my ‘on-arrival’ COVID test
What is the point of this test?