Alberta family stuck in quarantine after border crossing 'mix-up'

A Rosebud, Alta. family of four say they were wrongly ordered to quarantine by border guards after returning to Canada from a visit to Nevada

A Rosebud family is facing at least two weeks at home after a trip to Nevada went sideways. 

Craig Smith, his wife and two children went south of the border in late August for a wedding. 

Everyone in the family who is eligible is double vaccinated and all four produced negative tests before they hit the road. 

They also took what Smith is convinced were four COVID-19 PCR tests in Great Falls, Montana. CTV News has copies of those negative tests, which are clearly labeled as such. 

Negative results are required before leaving Canada and up to 72 hours before crossing back over into the country. 

But when the family arrived at the Coutts border crossing, Smith says a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer told them they didn't have the proper PCR tests to get home without quarantining. 

The family believes it had properly submitted all mandatory information and followed every federal step before they got to Coutts. 

Smith says the agent disagreed. 

"I actually asked the (Great Falls) lady facilitating the test, 'is this the test to cross the Canadian border?' and they said 'absolutely,'" Smith told CTV News.

But despite what Smith insisted, he says the border agent was unconvinced. The family was ordered home for two weeks of mandatory quarantine. 

He believes the CBSA made a mistake. 

"I would consider this to be COVID jail," he said.

Everyone in the family has since produced another negative result, but barring any changes, they'll be stuck in quarantine until the weekend. 

"What we're really trying to do is get my daughter to university because she's pretty upset and she's going to miss like 23 classes," Smith said. "My son is upset because he can't go to school. My wife can't work and I can't work. It's ridiculous."


CTV News reached out to the CBSA for answers. 

A spokesperson sent a statement saying, in part, that the agency "is unable to provide comment on specific cases and we cannot speculate on certain outcomes, as each traveller presents themselves to a border services officer under a different set of circumstances, with varying levels of information available."

Smith has also reached out to multiple provincial and federal politicians. He says his inquiries have thus far been unsuccessful in ending the quarantine.