Transport Minister Omar Alghabra is defending the government's decision to impose mandatory COVID-19 testing on travellers coming from China, Hong Kong and Macau — despite the opinions of experts who say the move will do little to curb the spread of the virus.
On Thursday, Canada joined several other countries — including the United States, some European nations, India and Japan — in imposing the testing requirement.
China has been dealing with an exploding COVID-19 caseload after easing restrictions and walking back its strict "zero-COVID" policy.
WATCH | 'It is the prudent thing to do': Transport minister on COVID-testing for travellers from China
Alghabra told CBC News Network's Power & Politics that the testing requirement is the "prudent thing to do."
"Those measures work. There will always be some people who say, 'Well, it's not perfect,'" he told host Catherine Cullen. "But it does add a layer of protection."
Specialists in infectious diseases and global health have told CBC News that the move will do little to keep new COVID cases out of Canada.
Dr. Fahad Razak, the former head of Ontario's COVID advisory board, told CBC News Network on Wednesday that it makes little sense to impose testing requirements on just one country.
"The idea that you can screen travel from just China and protect Canada doesn't really make sense scientifically," Razak told host Hannah Thibedeau.
Jeff Morrison, president and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC), also criticized the government's decision.
"Canada's pre-departure testing pandemic policies were largely ineffective in identifying COVID-19 cases and preventing the spread of the virus and should no longer be imposed," Morrison said in a media statement issued Thursday.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says the testing measure is being imposed in part because of the limited availability of epidemiological and other data coming out of China — a point that Alghabra echoed.
"At a time of lack of information coming out of China about their COVID situation … it is the prudent thing to do," he said.
Alghabra also said he would support imposing fines on Sunwing Airlines in response to the company's holiday travel debacle.