Windsor

Cost of border tests keeping U.S. couple from visiting beloved Canadian spots

A couple in Ohio say the cost of COVID-19 tests — needed to cross the border into Canada — are keeping them from visiting some of their favourite spots around Ontario. 

Retired Ohio couple have been visiting Ontario since they were children

While fully vaccinated U.S. travellers may enter into Canada now, some say there are still setbacks keeping them from visiting the country for leisure. (Carlos Osorio/Reuters)

A couple in Ohio say the cost of COVID-19 tests — needed to cross the border into Canada — are keeping them from visiting some of their favourite spots around Ontario this summer. 

Michael and Cindy Fanderys have enjoyed visiting family in Ontario ever since they were children. 

"I've been going to Toronto since I was three-years-old," said Michael. 

"I actually remember riding the streetcars on the subway ... it was a traditional thing to spend the summer at least one week, sometimes longer, in the general Toronto area."

Now retired, the couple have enjoyed visiting Windsor-Essex in the summer, or exploring surrounding regions like Chatham-Kent. 

In some countries, the cost is something like $200 American dollars to come in,- Dr. David Poon, founder of Faces of Advocacy

"We like going mainly for a day or so," said Cindy. 

"We like to go to different restaurants that we don't have here, we like to go to grocery stores just to see other products that are different in the grocery stores."

This summer the couple say they are missing out on their frequent trips again due to the high cost of tests needed to cross the border. 

Fully vaccinated U.S. travellers to Canada must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test, which can come at a cost. (Rob Gurdebeke/The Canadian Press)

To be eligible to cross into Canada, U.S. citizens must have received all required doses of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to entering Canada. Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents living in and travelling from the United States will be permitted entry. 

Although they get to skip quarantine, all fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test — like a PCR test — taken within 72 hours of arrival. Air passengers need to take the test within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of their final direct flight to Canada.

We always like Canada, just I think it's scenic and there's things to do,- Cindy Fanderys, U.S. resident

"In some countries, the cost is something like $200 American dollars to come in," said Dr. David Edward-Ooi Poon, founder of Faces of Advocacy, a group which advocates for cross-border families to be reunited amid the pandemic. 

"This has been a longstanding issue, where there's a lack of equity when we have family unification, because some people can easily afford the test, but some people can't."

Poon said these costs are difficult for families or individuals who have already suffered financially due to the pandemic. 

But those costs are also detrimental for businesses that rely on day-trippers like the Fanderys'.

Lyz Meloche, general manager of the Windsor Tunnel Duty Free Shop, spoke to CBC News as the Canadian border opened to fully vaccinated U.S. residents. 

"We just can't imagine families spending hundreds of dollars just across the border for a day trip," she told CBC News. 

Before the pandemic, roughly 80 per cent of the shop's business was from Americans.

Meanwhile, the Fanderys' said they'll miss visiting their Canadian neighbours this summer. 

"We've been looking forward to it. But then the PCR COVID test threw a roadblock in our way," said Michael. 

"There probably are quite a number of Americans that feel that spending $300 — about $150 per person to get that COVID-19 test is quite, quite an expense."

Cindy, a retired school teacher, said she's visited five provinces on the eastern side of the country as a kid and will miss her summer visit as an adult this year. 

"We always like Canada, just I think it's scenic and there's things to do," she said. 

"I always found the people friendly."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now