Restrictions on rotational workers returning to New Brunswick have been dropped, but for one family, that didn't come soon enough.
Karine Boudreau said she, her husband, and their three young children will be leaving their home in Moncton on Thursday and relocating to Alberta in response to rules that had required her husband to self-isolate upon returning home from his job site in Saskatchewan.
Her husband, Christian Goguen, works as a civil engineer at a wind farm. He typically works 21 days at a time and is off for seven but had been working rotations as long as two months to be able to spend time with his family after isolating.
"It's been a lot of loneliness," Boudreau said.
"We know that we're really lucky that we haven't been affected as much as some other families, but it's been really difficult on especially my kids, not seeing their father for months and months and months at a time."
Until January, rotational workers returning to the province could leave isolation once they tested negative for COVID-19 upon their return. That changed when the government introduced a requirement that they self-isolate for 14 days upon returning home.
If their relatives were to physically spend time with them for that period, they'd also be required to self-isolate for the same period.
On Wednesday, as part of the province's "path to green" plan, Premier Blaine Higgs announced all self-isolation requirements for rotational workers would be dropped as of Thursday.
'Happy to be leaving'
For Boudreau and her husband, however, the move had already been finalized.
Boudreau said the decision was made weeks ago, when the province loosened restrictions for rotational workers who'd been vaccinated, then reversed that change within just days.
"We're a little sad. Our our whole family is here," Boudreau said.
"We grew up here, but I think for everyone's mental health at this point, we have to get out."
Aside from the isolation rules, Boudreau said, the move was prompted by hateful online messages she received, particularly after going public about the strain the new rules would have on her and her family when they were first announced.
"The stigma has been really, really difficult, too. There's been a lot of misinformation and a lot of hate towards rotational workers and that has been really taxing mentally on us and my children.
"So we're happy with the decision for now. In a few years we might reevaluate, but but for now, we're we're happy to be leaving."
Fellow rotational worker would have done the same
Victor Melanson understands the decision by Boudreau and her family and said he would have done the same had he been a bit younger.
Just shy of 52, Melanson, who works on rotation in Alberta, is part of a group of other rotational workers who demanded the New Brunswick government test the constitutional validity of those requirements in court.
"The thought [of moving away from New Brunswick] was not far from my mind at one point, but when you're in your 50s and you're a little older in life, it's not as easy as it looks," he said.
Melanson added that although isolation requirements have been dropped for rotational workers, there's no guarantee they won't be reinstated if COVID case numbers spike again.
"Rolling into the fall, if there happens to be a little outbreak somewhere in the country here, I mean, who's to say that they're not going to just, you know, flip the switch back to what they were doing for the past six months or so?"