Nova Scotia

Families say Rankin's last-minute border change 'extremely demoralizing'

Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin's last-minute announcement of modified quarantine requirements for people travelling from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia has left a lot of Maritimers deeply disappointed and angry.

'You're playing with people's emotions. You're playing with people's lives,' woman says

Premier Iain Rankin addresses workers at a vaccination clinic in Dartmouth earlier this month. Many people are unhappy with his last-minute decision to impose tighter restrictions to the New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin's last-minute announcement of modified quarantine requirements for people travelling from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia has left a lot of Maritimers deeply disappointed and angry.

Steve MacKay's family planned to travel from Halifax to New Brunswick this weekend to celebrate his grandmother's 80th birthday. He said the extended family has not seen each other since December 2019, during which time his young son grew four inches taller.

"It's frustrating to have it be announced so soon to the border opening," MacKay said. "I mean, everything's changing all the time. What's going on?"

Nova Scotia had initially included New Brunswick in Wednesday's plan to lift quarantine requirements for travellers from the Atlantic region. But the government backtracked Tuesday, with Rankin citing New Brunswick's decision last week to reopen to the rest of Canada.

In Amherst, N.S., Kaili Pipes said the changes were "crushing" and the 11th-hour notice is "infuriating." 

Her in-laws live 10 minutes across the border, but she hasn't seen them in eight months. She and her husband had planned to finally visit Tuesday night, returning for work Wednesday morning as the border opened. She said they can't afford to take time off work to self-isolate.

Rankin announced the changes nine hours before they took effect. A protest near the border caused long delays Tuesday evening. (Pat Callaghan/CBC)

Being cut off from family is always heartbreaking, she said, but when they had moved specifically to live close to their families, they never imagined a provincial border could be shut down for so long.

"I believe that Premier Rankin needs to take a few minutes to understand how directly this has impacted Cumberland [County]," Pipes said. 

'Angry and sad'

Zachary Tingley also lives in Amherst. He hasn't seen family in Riverview, N.B., since November. On the promise of the bubble reopening June 23, he went back to visit a few days ahead. His wife and toddler were supposed to join them Tuesday afternoon, but now they won't be coming and he'll have to isolate on return.

"I think angry and sad would be would be my initial reaction."

Tingley supports his MLA, Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, who called for a blockade of the Trans-Canada Highway near the Cobequid Pass in protest of the restrictions. 

"I think it's important because all along Smith-McCrossin has been advocating for interprovincial co-operation," Tingley said, "And unfortunately, the premiers have not been listening." 

Sarah Reicker of Halifax was planning to hit the road at 6 a.m. Wednesday to see her parents and sibling for the first time in almost a year.

She said the announcement was "extremely demoralizing."

"I just felt my heart immediately sink," Reicker said. "This has happened a few times where they say, yes, things are going to open up, and then the situation just changes so rapidly."

She said while she is extremely sad, she knows she's not the only one in the country missing her family.

"People are missing each other from all over Canada, all over the world. So I know it's not uniquely affecting me, but it was pretty depressing today."

'Shaking our heads and wondering'

Carmella Facchin's husband has been working in Ontario and they haven't seen each other in six months. 

"You know, Atlantic Canada," Carmella Facchin said. "We're all so close to our families. It's affecting people mentally and physically and emotionally." 

Facchin was also unable to see her adult children for an entire year. Her sister in New Brunswick hasn't seen their parents in 10 months. She is upset with what she sees as inconsistent decisions around the border.

"You're playing with people's emotions. You're playing with people's lives," she said.

"I guess I'm just like everyone else in Nova Scotia," Facchin said. "We're just all shaking our heads and wondering what's next. You made a promise now for June 30. Let's see what happens on June 30."

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