Both Bloomberg and CBC report that senior Canadian and American officials are in “preliminary” talks about lifting border restrictions between the two countries.
Neither publication is revealing its sources as they were not authorized to speak publicly.
Bloomberg broke the news just before the weekend, and according to its source, “A reopening of the border probably isn’t imminent, and the discussions in the government are just getting started.”
But the CBC’s reporting strikes a more positive note. Following Bloomberg’s revelations, CBC looked into the border talks itself. Its source told CBC, “No decisions are expected in the short term but that there is hope for “positive news as summer progresses,” especially in light of the increase in vaccination rates in Canada.”
Both reports point out that any reopening is contingent upon COVID-19 cases on both sides of the border continuing to fall and vaccination levels continuing to rise.
According to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker, “34.1% of Canadians residents have received one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and only 2.7% are fully inoculated, compared with 46.6% and 35.8%, respectively, in the U.S.”
In addition, there would have to be agreement about what conditions apply to vaccinated vs non-vaccinated travellers at the border.
Bloomberg’s report says another, “challenge is coming up with an approach, in coordination with the U.S., to verify vaccination documentation. Trudeau has said Canada is open to vaccine passports, which are electronic documents that would allow countries to verify whether travelers have been inoculated. U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, by contrast, has ruled them out.”
“The problem is we have an asymmetrical situation here,” Bloomberg quotes former ambassador to the U.S, Michael Kergin, referring to the different vaccination situations in Canada and the U.S.
“In the end, it’s a political decision, and at what point does the Canadian side — and it’s the Canadian side at this point that’s the slowpoke — decide that they’re ready to receive and what categories of people that they’ll open up to… A staged reopening would be the logical approach.”
This news comes as Ontario’s premier continues to demand Ottawa tighten border restrictions as that provinces continues to battle the third wave of the pandemic.
The closure of the border between Canada and the U.S. is expected to be renewed on May 21.