The Ontario government is now mandating that outbound international travellers pay for COVID-19 tests.
On Monday, the Government of Ontario said the decision was made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, effective December 11, individuals requesting a COVID-19 test for international travel clearance are no longer eligible for a publicly funded test in Ontario.
The reason being that the government wants to ensure taxpayer dollars are “appropriately allocated” to priority areas and to “preserve capacity within the provincially funded COVID-19 testing network.”
The province continues to provide testing to anyone who needs a test per provincial testing guidelines at no cost. This includes people who are symptomatic, or people who have been in contact with someone who has symptoms.
“As the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed, we have continued to adapt our approach to testing and the services we have made available,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, in a statement.
“While international travellers are no longer eligible to receive a publicly funded COVID-19 test, we remain committed to ensuring that anyone who needs a test can get one quickly, at no cost.”
This fall, the province updated Ontario’s testing guidelines to prioritize those who are at greatest risk of getting the virus. Anyone who falls within the current Provincial Testing Guidance should continue to seek publicly funded testing, available at participating pharmacies and assessment centres.
International travellers are recommended to consult their travel carrier’s guidelines to ensure they have the most up-to-date information.
They should also refer to the federal government’s travel website for up-to-date expectations and requirements related to their destination. If a COVID-19 test is required, the province says it’s important to leave substantial time for testing and to receive results. COVID-19 testing services are available and travellers in need of a test can now find convenient local options, including private testing facilities such as a travel clinic.