Ottawa now ‘Working With’ Provinces; Still ‘Not Ready’ to Reopen Border

Pressure is mounting for the Canadian government to reopen our southern border, but according to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, the federal government is still not ready.

Garneau reportedly told the CEO of Montreal’s chamber of commerce that he’s “very aware Canadians are growing impatient about the ongoing shutdown of the Canada-U.S. border, but declined to offer a set of criteria to determine a reopening plan.”

As Open Jaw reported last week, the Minister of Health’s own advisory panel recommended scrapping hotel quarantines for air pax and developing a new system where land and air arrivals are treated the same, with differences for vaccinated or immune arrivals. 

Immediately following release of the report, the government said it would, “consider the Panel’s recommendations,” but Minister of Health Patty Hajdu later also said she’d consult with the provinces this week – before making any decisions about changing border policies.

“As you know, border management has been a hotly contested issue among provinces and territories. And I want to make sure that I understand the perspective of my colleagues before we take the next steps,” she told CBC. 

Garneau says that the government is discussing the matter with the provinces – but says it is wary of opening the floodgates to a potential fourth wave of COVID-19. 

US Canada Vehicle Border Crossing
U.S. and Canada land border crossing

Those talks appear to be taking place – but with no foreseeable consensus or changes to border policies or travel restrictions. 

Global News reports B.C. Premier John Horgan confirmed that Canada’s premiers have been working on a plan to restart travel between the United States and Canada, but that only “casual” conversations about border-reopenings are taking place.

He said the federal government has “been seeking advice and input from all of us (premiers), from coast to coast to coast, about how best for all of us to come back and welcome the world to Canada and I think that’s the appropriate way forward.”

Immunization rates are a big factor in the discussions. Currently, 41.4 per cent of the American population is fully vaccinated and 51.3 per cent have received at least one dose of the vaccine. In comparison only 5.8 per cent of Canadians are fully vaccinated, but 58.5 per cent have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

Provincial and local – particularly bordertown – governments remain divided on the hot-button issue, with business leaders also urging the government to chart a path towards the reopening of borders. 

Current travel restrictions between Canada and the U.S. are set to expire 21JUN, but have so far been extended on a monthly basis.

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