Non-essential pandemic travel and childcare
In these times of pandemic, Government of Canada and health officials recommend avoiding non-essential travel. Although compliance with these recommendations is an individual decision, a recent judgment shows us that choosing to take a non-essential trip has its consequences.
The parties exercise joint custody of their 2 children. Since the start of the pandemic, despite the well-known recommendations for non-essential travel, the father has chosen to visit his new friend abroad on more than one occasion.
The father would like that, as soon as he returns to his country or home, he can spend the rest of his 40s with his children. He affirms that he then respects all the health instructions related to people in quarantine. He argues that he would then be at little risk since he will have been in quarantine for a period of 3 days in a hotel and that a negative test will have been obtained upon his return as well as after 10 days. He also compares his situation to that of an essential worker who returns daily to his family.
From the outset, for Judge Bernard Synnott, there can be no comparison with healthcare workers:
 Such a comparison to essential workers is puzzling and at a loss for words. Monsieur voluntarily chooses to contravene the clear recommendations of the Government of Canada which, at the risk of repeating itself, are not to travel except for essential reasons.
 Healthcare workers have no choice. In particular, day after day, they treat infected patients. Many of these patients are seriously ill because often reckless travelers or people disrespecting health guidelines and government recommendations have infected them. No comparison is possible here with healthcare workers.
The judge continued his analysis by indicating that the father actually wanted the mother to adjust to the choices he made without consulting her and that he could dictate the daycare schedule according to his travels. However, although the Court is generally open to accommodation, the judge is of the opinion that the limits have been reached in this case.
Indeed, it would be contrary to the interests of the children for their schedules to be upset by the willful act of a parent who places himself in quarantine upon returning from a non-essential trip and contrary to health instructions. In addition, complaining of a lack of access for weeks on end due to personal choices in violation of the guidelines seems contrary to common sense and, in the circumstances, is tantamount to pleading one’s own turpitude.
In the end, the judge indicates that he it will be up to the father to make the choices and that it will be up to him – and not to other family members – to live with the consequences of these.
Family Law – 21745 (CS, 2021-03-19), 2021 QCCS 1708, SOQUIJ AZ-51762492. As of the date of the broadcast, the decision had not been appealed.