Today, we ask you to spare a thought for the Canadian snowbird: the tanned, two-legged avian whose annual pilgrimage to warmer climes has been thrown into chaos.
You may have read about the unjustness of their plight in publications across the land in recent weeks. It’s enough to make me want to put myself in their gilded wings, so to speak, if just for a moment.
Of course, I had to first set aside the fact that these fine people defied public health recommendations to avoid non-essential travel, especially to countries with high rates of COVID-19, such as the United States, where snowbirds love to flock.
And then, I had to willfully blind myself to the fact that travel agencies and public health officials warned prospective travellers that tighter border restrictions were all but a certainty as the second wave began to build to dangerous new heights around the world.
But once you leave aside all of that, we’re left with a heart-wrenching question: How were our poor, put-upon snowbirds to know that the things they were warned might happen would actually happen? Or that new variants of the virus would materialize, creating a whole new level of angst amongst Canadians who would insist their federal government do more to protect them from people bringing the disease into the country from elsewhere – like a mandatory quarantine and testing program that they’d been calling for since nearly the beginning of the pandemic?
The government’s new measures go into effect on Monday, and most of the griping about them has emanated from Canadians who have been vacationing in the U.S. To say that some of these complainers are in for a frosty reception upon their return would be an understatement. (Even more so for those who thought it was a good idea to brag on Facebook and other social-media platforms about being vaccinated while down there.)
The biggest complaint seems to be with the $2,000 price tag of their mandatory three-day hotel stay upon their return. One couple interviewed wondered if they’d be charged the Goods and Services Tax on top of that. I can’t remember if it was the same pair who expressed anger about having to quarantine upon returning to Canada because they had effectively been self-isolating at their vacation property – there’s been no golf, no pickle ball, no fun.
I’m sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Snowbird, but most Canadians have little sympathy for your dilemma. Thousands and thousands of your fellow countrymen deferred their holiday plans in accordance with the advice of government. So, if you decided to roll the dice and now have to pay the price, so be it.
I accept that there are caveats. There are people who need to travel back and forth from our two countries for medical reasons, for instance. There should be exemptions for these folks. But for those who “had to go” to Arizona or Florida because they own or regularly rent a condo there – well, sorry, that doesn’t (or shouldn’t) fly.
And trust me, the anger bubbling up across this land in response to the moaning of these “trapped” snowbirds isn’t about jealousy – it’s about privilege and entitlement.
If you have the money to stay down south for a few months, you can afford the $2,000 you will be charged for the hotel you’re forced to stay in upon your return. And if you’re worried about being confined to a Motel 6, you can pay for an upgrade. Wasn’t that thoughtful of the government?
There have been complaints, too, about the government “facilities” that a person must go to if they test positive upon their return. They are sterile and encased in plastic sheeting. Meals are left outside one’s door. There is nothing to do. Your location is a secret. A stay in one has been compared to being in prison.
Again, I’m sorry (I’m not sorry): If someone has, wittingly or not, brought a deadly disease into this country, they ought not complain about the conditions of the facility they are being housed in at taxpayers’ expense until they are considered safe to roam among the masses. They should be thankful.
A crisis can reveal a lot about humanity. It brings out both the best and worst in us. Even as Ottawa continues to plead with people to stay put and avoid travel, hundreds of Canadians have hopped on airplanes bound for Hawaii or some other vacation destination.
That is their decision, of course. But when they return, they’d better not bemoan the cost of their quarantine or the weather.
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