Montreal

Sunwing representative fired after promising negative COVID test results to Quebec travellers

A Sunwing representative at hotels in the Dominican Republic who promised customers guaranteed negative COVID-19 test results has been fired, according to Radio-Canada.

Transport Canada says it's 'carrying out a preliminary examination of the alleged facts'

The company says the representative was an employee of a third-party destination management company, not an employee of Sunwing Vacations or Sunwing Airlines. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)

A Sunwing representative at hotels in the Dominican Republic who promised customers guaranteed negative COVID-19 test results has been fired, Radio-Canada has learned, and Transport Canada is investigating.

Radio-Canada obtained emails of a complaint to Sunwing after a customer and their family travelled to the Grand Bavaro Princess Hotel in Punta Cana in early January.

"At the site, a Sunwing employee told us twice that it was better to do the tests with Sunwing's private laboratory to be sure to get a negative test result and not to do the test offered at the hotel, where we wouldn't know the results," the email says.

The client says other travellers received the same advice at from representatives wearing Sunwing uniforms during information sessions at the hotel.

In the complaint, the client denounced that people could walk around the hotel with COVID-19 knowingly or unknowingly, since they received a falsified negative test result, in the days preceding their return.

"There are potentially several positive travelers who return to the country with fake negative test results," read the complaint.

Representative fired

On Jan. 24, Nathalie Caya, a customer relations supervisor, answered the guest, saying the elements of the complaint "do not lead to the conclusion of any fraudulent action on the part of a Sunwing representative," but the employees had been "relieved of his duties."

"Measures have also been taken to prevent any similar situation from happening in the future and to ensure that all protocols are respected," Caya said in an email.

"We are aware of the incident in question and take all comments regarding alleged fraudulent or immoral activity very seriously," Sunwing told Radio-Canada.

The company says the representative was an employee of a third-party destination management company, not an employee of Sunwing Vacations or Sunwing Airlines.

Cases of fraud

Quebec and Ottawa have been informed of the incident, which has circulated in several ministers' offices, according to Radio-Canada.

Gatineau police confirmed to Radio-Canada that they had received a complaint and transferred it to Transport Canada.

"Transport Canada has received a report concerning this incident and is currently carrying out a preliminary examination of the alleged facts," the ministry said.

Up until Jan. 31, the Canada Border Services Agency and the Public Health Agency of Canada intercepted 476 cases of suspected falsified or fraudulent test results at various ports of entry, half of them at airports and the other half by land.

"The Border Services Agency is working closely with its national and international partners to detect and intercept fraudulent documents," Patrick Mahaffy, a spokesperson for the CBSA, said.

Providing false information to a representative of the Government of Canada when entering Canada, or fraudulently attempting to provide it, may lead to penalties or criminal charges.

Based on a report by Radio-Canada's Thomas Gerbet and Romain Schué

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