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Monday, November 29, 2021

Commons committee to study safety of quarantine hotels, at-home inspections

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Members of the House of Commons’ Public Safety Committee have voted to undertake a study into the safety and security of new mandatory hotel quarantine sites and at-home compliance checks by federal screening officers following international travel.

MPs voted unanimously to pursue an investigation into both measures on Monday, following recent allegations of sexual assault at a government-run quarantine hotel in Montreal, and another during a compliance check in Oakville.

The Conservative-backed motion accuses the federal government of failing to “prevent sexual assaults and other crimes against travellers under these federal orders” and invites officials from the Public Health Agency of Canada, RCMP, and the Canada Border Services Agency as well as Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to appear as witnesses.

The alleged assault at a quarantine hotel in Montreal occurred on Feb. 17, before hotel quarantines became mandatory. The woman alleging the assault told CTV News that a man — a fellow traveller — came into her room, refused to leave, partially undressed and touched her against her will, only leaving when she threatened to scream. The man faces one count of sexual assault, one count of breaking and entering, and one count of criminal harassment. None of the allegations against him have been tested in court.

The second assault, at a home in Oakville, occurred on Feb. 18. A quarantine screening officer allegedly demanded cash from a woman he said was violating quarantine rules, before sexually assaulting her. He has been charged with sexual assault and extortion. None of the allegations against him have been tested in court.

In an attached letter to the chair of the public safety committee, four Conservative members call for the suspension of the new hotel quarantine measures, “while continuing with the pre-existing on-arrival testing and the 14-day at-home quarantine for all international travellers.”

The mandatory hotel quarantine came into effect on Feb. 22 and requires all travellers who have returned to Canada from travel abroad to stay in a designated hotel for at least three days, at their own expense, while they await a PCR test taken upon arrival.

More to come…

With files from CTV News’ Iman Kassam & Selena Ross

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