COVID-19 testing rules leaves grieving Ottawa woman stranded at Canada-U.S. border
OTTAWA -- An Ottawa woman remains stranded at the Canada-U.S. border in Michigan, waiting for a COVID-19 test result to allow her to cross the border and return home to her mourning family.
"I honestly feel betrayed by my own country right now," said Jamie Lelievre-Pettipiece in an interview with CTV News Ottawa from Port Huron.
Lelievre-Pettipiece drove from Ottawa to Michigan after her father suffered a stroke on Saturday. He passed away on Sunday.
The mother of two is now trying to return to Canada, but new rules requiring land travellers to show the results of a COVID-19 test before entering this country have left her in limbo.
"Right now, we're just sitting in Port Huron waiting for the test results," said Lelievre-Pettipiece in an interview with CTV News Ottawa's Chief Anchor Graham Richardson. "I've called the clinic two times now, they're still not in."
Effective Monday, the federal government requires travellers to show the results of a COVID-19 test when entering the country by land. Negative tests need to have been taken within three days of the scheduled arrival at the border.
The criteria means Lelievre-Pettipiece needs a negative test result by Thursday at 11 a.m.
"We're also on a time crunch because if we don't get the results back by tomorrow, we have to redo a test."
Lelievre-Pettipiece found a clinic in Port Huron Monday morning and paid $119 for the COVID-19 test.
"Just frustration. We followed all the protocols; we got our test as soon as we possibly could, as soon as we arrived here so that we would meet the time constraints and follow the policy," said Lelievre-Pettipiece. "We've been very hyper-aware of keeping low contact and wearing masks and doing everything we need to do to get home safely and be safe."
Lelievre-Pettipiece tried to enter Canada on Wednesday at the Blue Water Bridge connecting Port Huron and Sarnia, but received a blunt answer from the Canada Border Services Agency agent.
"You have two options: You can turn around and go back to America and wait for your results or go to Toronto for your quarantine."
The federal government has said travellers would be required to pay for the cost of the hotel and all associated costs for food, cleaning and security.
When Lelievre-Pettipiece returned to the United States on Wednesday, she said U.S. customs officials were "confused and sympathetic" about her ordeal.
Now, she just wants to return to Canada and be with her 10 and 12 year-old children.
"We just want to get home and be with the kids; there are reasons that we need to for the kids. Emotional issues with the kids we need to take care of as well," said Lelievre-Pettipiece, fighting back tears. "Going through a loss, I just want to feel a sense of normalcy. I just want to be in my home; I just want to be back home."
Lelievre-Pettipiece says her quarantine plan when she does return home is to be with her children. Until then, she is stuck at the border waiting for a negative COVID-19 test.
"The prime minister also said there would be compassionate (grounds), on a case-by-case basis. There is no option for a Canadian to apply to get back into the country on compassionate grounds."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said some Canadians can apply for a special exemption to the new rules and that border officials will assess each person on a case-by-case basis.
The COVID-19 test requirements do not apply to essential workers such as medical staff or truck drivers.
With files from CTV News Ottawa's Graham Richardson and Peter Szperling.