Covid restrictions in Newfoundland forces rotation worker to move to Alberta.
From canola to condos. Farm land gives way to a housing boom in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Photo by Greg Locke © 2021

Covid restrictions in Newfoundland forces rotation worker to move to Alberta.


JOHN’S, NEWFOUNDLAND (Mar 16, 2021) Steve Reid of Corner Brook Newfoundland is a rotational worker. This means he commutes from his home in Newfoundland to his job in British Columbia on a 2 week rotational schedule. Now, COVID-19 restriction in Newfoundland has forced him to move out of Newfoundland in order to just be with his family during his time off.

In Newfoundland all people entering the province must do a mandatory 14-day isolation even from your own family. So, during his 14 days off work, he must spend it in isolation.

Reid told the CBC in an interview, “It’s an incredibly tough decision to make. I made a life and had a home in Newfoundland.… It’s our home, we want to be there,”

“The fact that we’ve had to isolate, be away from our families, it’s taken an incredible toll on everybody’s mental stability,” he added. “There’s no way to work at home, so what’s the point of having a life at home?”

Reid has not been home since January 3rd. He plans to sell his house in Newfoundland and move his family to Grand Prairie, Alberta.  

Many of Newfoundland’s rotational workers are in the same bind. They work out of province but can’t see their families when they get home. Compounding the problem for these workers is the cancelling of scheduled airline flights. What was once a 6-7 hour flight from St John’s, to Fort McMurray can now be 14 hours.

Derek Barrett in isolation at his home in Conception Bay South, Newfounldand on February 25th,2020 before traveling back to his job in Fort MacMurray, Alberta. Photo by Greg Locke.

Derek Barrett of Conception Bay South works in Fort McMurray and says, “the flights are much longer and if the weather is bad and a flight gets cancelled there is no next flight that day. You could be stranded overnight in any airport between Fort Mac and St John’s. “ “if you are lucky enough to have more than 14 days home it certainly cuts into the time you can have with your family.”

Complicating the matter is that while Newfoundland’s Covid-19 cases are very low, the majority of them come from people travelling into the province both domestically and internationally making it difficult for the government to make public policy that does not punish rotational workers who have to travel on a regular basis.

…also see, Mobile Workers in Alberta During the COVID-19 Pandemic on the On The Move Partnership website.

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