Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Canada’s response
On this page
- How Canada is responding to COVID-19
- Economic and financial support
- Travel advisories
- At Canadian borders
- Support for Canadians abroad
- For clinical trial sponsors
- Drug and medical device supply monitoring
How Canada is responding to COVID-19
For detailed information on Canada's whole-of-government actions to respond to the outbreak, refer to the Government of Canada's response to COVID-19.
Economic and financial support
To learn more about Canada’s actions to help Canadians and businesses facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, refer to Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.
The Government of Canada is continually assessing travel risks for Canadians. An official global travel advisory is in effect: Avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice. In addition, a pandemic COVID-19 travel health notice with travel health advice for Canadians has also been issued.
It may be increasingly difficult to travel in and out of some destinations. If you are currently in a destination with travel restrictions and your presence there is not essential, you should consider leaving by commercial means while these are still available.
At Canadian borders
As of March 21, 2020, there is a 30-day restriction on all non-essential travel at the Canada-U.S. border.
This restriction covers all travel of an optional nature, such as:
Healthy people who must cross the border for work or other essential purposes may continue to do so. Some examples of essential travel purposes are:
- work and study
- critical infrastructure support
- economic services and supply chains
- shopping for essential goods, such as:
- those that are necessary for the health and safety of an individual or family
- health, immediate medical care, safety and security
These travellers will only be let into the country if they have not been outside Canada or the U.S. in the 14 days before requesting entry into Canada.
Canada and the U.S. recognize how closely our economies are integrated. It is essential that trade continue during this pandemic. Economic supply chains remain open and we will work to ensure that access to goods and services is not interrupted.
Restrictions and exemptions for foreign nationals
Any foreign national who has symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter Canada.
Foreign nationals arriving from the U.S. without symptoms of COVID-19 will be allowed to enter Canada only for essential travel.
Foreign nationals, excluding those arriving from the U.S., will not be allowed into Canada. However, there are exemptions to these restrictions for foreign nationals arriving from other countries.
Exemptions include, but are not limited to:
- immediate family members of a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident, which refers to a:
- spouse or common-law partner
- dependent child of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner
- dependent child of a dependent child
- parent or step-parent of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner
- guardian or tutor
- a French citizen who resides in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and has been only in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, the U.S. or Canada during the period of 14 days before the day on which they arrived in Canada
- a person who arrives by ship if it departed before 12:01 am EDT on March 21, 2020, and had a scheduled destination of Canada upon its departure
- the holder of a valid work permit or a study permit
- a person who has received written notice of approval for a work permit, but who has not yet been issued the permit
- a person who has received written notice of approval for a study permit before 12 pm EDT on March 18, 2020, but who has not yet been issued the permit
- a person permitted to work in Canada as a student in a health field
- a person who seeks to enter Canada for the purpose of delivering, maintaining or repairing medically-necessary equipment or devices
- a person whose application for permanent residence was approved and who received written notice of the approval before 12 pm EDT on March 18, 2020, but who has not yet become a permanent resident
Additional exemptions include those providing critical services.
Crossing the border
Entry screening is an important public health tool. Canada border services officers are taking steps to ensure any traveller who may have symptoms of COVID-19 are referred for further health screening and examination when required.
Officers ask all travellers if they have a cough, fever or difficulty breathing, and visually inspect them for signs of illness.
In addition, they ask U.S. travellers and foreign nationals about the purpose of their visit.
Some travellers, such as truck drivers, firefighters and nurses, cross the border every day to work or study. They will not be impacted by the new border measures.
All international passenger flight arrivals have been redirected to 1 of 4 airports:
- Calgary International Airport
- Vancouver International Airport
- Toronto’s Pearson International Airport
- Montréal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport
For returning travellers without symptoms of COVID-19
If you are returning to Canada and you have no symptoms, you must QUARANTINE (self-isolate) yourself for 14 days. This is mandatory. You are at risk of developing symptoms and infecting others. There are exceptions for workers who are essential to the movement of goods and people.
For returning travellers showing symptoms of COVID-19
If you are Canadian or a permanent resident, and you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you may still enter Canada by land, rail or sea. You may not enter Canada by air, to protect the health of all travellers.
Those who have symptoms and are permitted to enter Canada must ISOLATE for 14 days. This is mandatory. If required, immediate medical attention will be provided upon arrival in Canada.
If you are not Canadian or a permanent resident, and you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you will not be permitted to enter Canada.
If you show signs of an infectious disease, officials will contact a quarantine officer.
The quarantine officer will perform a more detailed assessment. If necessary, the quarantine officer may:
- order you to be transported to hospital to undergo a medical examination
- inform the local public health authority
Support for Canadians abroad
To help Canadians return home or cope with challenges they are facing while travelling, the Government of Canada has created the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad.
The Program will provide the option of an emergency loan to Canadians in need of immediate financial assistance to return home or to temporarily cover their life-sustaining needs while they work toward their return.
Global Affairs Canada is providing 24/7 consular support to Canadians abroad affected by COVID-19 through the Emergency Watch and Response Centre and through consular staff at its network of missions.
The Federal/Provincial/Territorial Public Health Response Plan for Biological Events has been activated to ensure a coordinated response across Canada.
A special advisory committee has been established to advise the Deputy Ministers of Health on the coordination, public health policy and technical content related to this outbreak. This committee consists of the members of the Pan-Canadian Public Health Network Council and the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is working closely with partners domestically and around the world, including the World Health Organization (WHO), to respond to this outbreak.
Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) has developed a real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) test that can diagnose COVID-19 from clinical specimens. The NML is working collaboratively with Canadian provincial public health laboratories to ensure there is additional testing capacity in multiple jurisdictions.
At this time, the NML also supports the use of other international assays that have been posted publicly.
Further collaborative scientific studies to investigate the virus are underway.
The Government of Canada is working with international regulators to help fast-track clinical trials and applications for vaccines, treatments and diagnostic tests. The International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities held a global medicines regulators web meeting on March 18, 2020. Discussions included regulatory considerations for anticipated COVID-19 vaccine candidates to advance regulatory convergence. A key objective of the meeting was to discuss and agree on an approach to the requirements to support first-in-human clinical trials. The press release and meeting report are available for access. Health Canada has also engaged with international regulatory partners under the Australia-Canada-Singapore-Switzerland Consortium to explore potential collaboration on regulatory issues related to COVID-19.
We are also working closely with international regulatory partners, including the European Medicines Agency, the United States Food and Drug Administration, and the Therapeutic Goods Administration, to share information on any signals of global supply disruptions.
For clinical trial sponsors
Companies and researchers with drugs, medical devices, or natural health products that may be effective in treating or diagnosing COVID-19 are encouraged to contact us to facilitate clinical trials.
Clinical trials are studies to find out whether a drug or medical device is safe and effective for people. We can authorize a clinical trial quickly in urgent situations. We also publish a list of all clinical trials authorized in Canada.
Please contact us at:
- trials using pharmaceutical drugs: OCT_BEC_Enquiries_Enquetes@hc-sc.gc.ca
- trials using biologics or radiopharmaceuticals: email@example.com
- trials using natural health products: NHPD-CTA.DEC-DPSN@canada.ca
- investigational testing of medical devices: firstname.lastname@example.org
Drug and medical device supply monitoring
The Government of Canada is actively monitoring the novel COVID-19 and its impact on the supply of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, natural health products and medical devices in Canada. We do this through regular contact with:
- drug, medical device and natural health products manufacturers and importers
- provincial, territorial and international partners
We are aware that there may be supply disruptions related to COVID-19 and are monitoring the situation closely.
Companies that market prescription drugs for human use in Canada must report anticipated or actual drug shortages on Drug Shortages Canada. We have contacted companies to remind them of this requirement. Industry stakeholder associations have also been asked to notify us of any early signals of shortages related to COVID-19. Drug and medical device shortage signals can also be reported by the provinces and territories, healthcare professionals or the public.
We will continue to use all available tools to help manage critical national shortages when they happen, and work with partners so that Canadians have access to the medications they need. Learn more about drug shortages in Canada.
- COVID-19: Legislation and regulations for protecting Canadians
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): For businesses and employees
- COVID-19 measures, updates, and guidance issued by Transport Canada
- Special measures to help temporary and permanent residents and applicants affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Launch of the Canadian 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Rapid Research Funding Opportunity
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