Dying Windsor woman gets exemption, sees U.S. parents for final time

Diane Costello, a colorectal cancer patient in Windsor, Ont., has gotten her dying wish to see her American parents one last time.

Diane’s daughter, Shayla, confirmed to CBC News that her family was given an exemption around 6 p.m. Thursday by public health officials, granting her grandparents the ability to see Diane as long as they agreed to some conditions. 

The family was reunited last night. 

“Oh my goodness, mom was so happy,” said Costello. “She does have delirium now but it seems like she snapped out of it when she saw my grandparents, she knew exactly who they were.

“It was nice seeing her normal, we stayed for a couple of hours.”

In a news conference Thursday afternoon, Costello along with Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse urged the government to improve the process of family reunification during the Canada-U.S. border closure.

Windsor-Tecumseh NDP MPP Percy Hatfield also stood up in the legislature at Queen’s Park on Thursday to appeal to the federal government on the family’s behalf.

In a Facebook video, Costello, pictured with her mother, thanked people who shared her story and helped ensure she was able to see her parents one last time. (Shayla Costello/Facebook)

Later that day, Costello received the news that her mother’s parents would get the exemption. 

“I didn’t believe it,” she said.

Costello and Masse told reporters Thursday the rules clearly differ for everyday citizens and those with money and connections to the political elite. 

“My mom has gotten worse just within a couple of days. She now has delirium and all she wants is her wish to come true — just to hear her parents,” Costello said Thursday.

“You just think about who you want to see when you get sick. The first person I want to see is my mom, so I can only imagine that that’s what she wants as well.”

It comes after a CBC News investigation found that a top Donald Trump donor was granted a special entry exemption into Canada last month

Liz Uihlein, and two of her company’s senior executives were granted special exemptions for a 36-hour business trip to an office and warehouse in Milton. 

During a news conference Thursday in front of the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, MP Brian Masse called for the federal government’s family reunification process to be streamlined, giving more consideration for family members to see their dying loved ones. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

The federal government has classified a number of jobs as “essential” during the global pandemic and has exempted truck drivers, airline flight crews, health-care professionals, critical infrastructure workers and some technicians from the quarantine rule. Exemptions have also been granted to hundreds of athletes. 

“If you’re sick and if you are just an ordinary, working-class person, you do not get access,” said Masse Thursday.

“This government has been known to do its favours for individuals and for the well-connected. What we’re asking for today … is an appeal of this particular case because it’s just simply not fair.”

The CBC News investigation revealed Uihlein, the 75-year-old president and CEO of Uline Inc., flew to Toronto on her private jet on Aug. 25. The special entry exemption meant she was allowed her to skip Canada’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for foreign travellers.

In response to CBC’s story, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Uihlein’s exemption from the mandatory 14-day quarantine period came as a result of a mistake by the Canada Border Services Agency.

When CBC News first spoke with Shayla and Diane earlier this month, the two said Diane’s parents — her 77-year-old mother and 80-year-old father — have their own health issues that would make it difficult for them to quarantine without medical treatment for two weeks.

On Thursday, Costello said her grandparents had since entered Canada and had been in quarantine for a few days already — but feared her mother, Diane, might not be alive long enough to see them when that 14 day self-isolation period was up.

Costello said it’s “upsetting” to know billionaire CEOs and political influencers have received special exemptions for the quarantine period, while her grandparents have not been granted the same to see their dying daughter.

“We’ve been fighting this fight for three weeks now,” said Costello. “At first, they weren’t able to come into Canada because my grandma does have her own health issues. She finished her treatment and then she was able to get over here after her treatment. But they could have already seen my mom within those three weeks.”

On Wednesday, federal government officials announced Canada’s border clampdown on travel could soon be adjusted to allow some new humanitarian exemptions, adding it is looking to establish a process to weigh certain travel applications on a case-by-case basis.

Read more at CBC.ca