Photo: Jeremy Hainsworth.
The woman did not provide her quarantine plan or contact information through the ArrivalCan mobile app, state court documents state.
A BC Supreme Court judge has rejected the appeal of a woman fined at the US border for not having a quarantine plan in place when she returned to Canada in June 2022.
Nithya Geetapriya Ananda, also known as Joanna Lasoka, was fined $5,750. The fine was later reduced to $1,500.
In a Feb. 8 ruling, Justice Matthew Taylor said Lasoka's conviction and sentence arose from a ticket and fine issued to her at the Canadian border on June 21, 2022, upon re-entering Canada from the United States. She did not provide her quarantine plan or contact information through the ArrivalCan mobile app.
Taylor said at the time Lasoka crossed, there were federal government measures in place related to the spread of COVID-19.
One of those requirements was to provide an adequate quarantine plan or electronic contact information specified by the Minister of Health before entering Canada, Taylor said.
At that time, travelers were required to provide this information by downloading ArrivalCan to a phone or computer and filling out the requested information before entering Canada. If ArrivalCan was unable to download, alternative options were available at the border to provide a suitable quarantine plan or contact information.
Taylor said Lasoka refused to download or complete the ArrivalCan despite being warned by a customs official that she would be fined if she refused to do so.
As a result, she received a fine; the initial $5,750 fine was reduced after the judge heard evidence of Lasoka's financial situation.
At trial, Taylor said, Lasoka did not present evidence but claimed his rights under the Canadian Bill of Rights had been violated. These rights include the right to life, liberty, security of person, and the enjoyment of property, and the right not to be deprived of the same except by due process of law; and the right of the individual to equality before the law and to the protection of the law.
Although still in force, the Bill of Rights was replaced by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982.
Taylor said the provincial court judge noted that Lasoka did not present arguments to support his Bill of Rights claim. Still, he said Lasoka argued that his right to equality before the law was violated because the Quarantine Law differentiates between vaccinated and unvaccinated people, thus creating inequality.
“In particular, the provincial court judge noted, the appellant did not specify at trial whether she was vaccinated or not or whether the alleged inequality was related to any of the statutes, nor did she specify whether and how ArrivalCan was relevant to vaccination status.” , Taylor said.
Taylor said the trial judge made no errors – other than a prosecutorial error that was soon corrected – and dismissed the appeal.