Canadian Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino is in talks with his American counterpart, United States Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, to re-open the Canada-U.S. border as the COVID-19 pandemic gradually phases out.
Also, a meeting with Ontario mayors from border cities and the public safety minister shows travel restrictions may begin to ease on the southern border by the end of June.
Mayor Drew Dilkens from Windsor said that while the federal government did not provide an official date, they are expecting enough Canadians to be vaccinated by June 21 to consider easing Canada-U.S. border restrictions on travel between Canada and the United States.
Earlier in May, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested that Seventy-five per cent of Canadians would have to be vaccinated and coronavirus cases would have to remain low in order to ease travel restrictions.
The COVID-19 pandemic cases are down in both countries, with the United States seeing the lowest numbers since March 2020, while Canada is down to October levels.
About forty-one per cent of the U.S. is fully vaccinated, and about fifty-eight per cent of Canadians have received one dose with only 5 per cent being fully vaccinated.
The mayor of Niagara Falls, Jim Diodati, also reiterates Public Safety Minister Bill Blair is expecting Seventy-five per cent of Canadians to have their first dose and twenty per cent to be fully vaccinated by June 21, then for Seventy-five per cent of the population to be fully vaccinated by July 21.
In an interview with CHCH TV, Diodati said the feds are looking at gradually reopening up the border, and is optimistic that a plan will be out soon.
The minister of public safety’s spokesperson, James Cudmore, said in a news briefing the improved public health conditions following increased vaccination rates have “opened the door to the possibility of refinement or an easing of border measures, aligned with the best advice of public health experts.”
Cudmore also said that current measures “could be extended again” depending on the situation in the coming weeks.
“Until we can be assured, based on the advice coming from our public health officials and our assessments of those conditions is such that we believe that those restrictions can be lifted safely, we will keep them in place,” Cudmore said, quoting Minister Blair.
The Prime Minister himself has said that Canada is in no rush to reopen the border, and neither are Canadians, according to a recent Angus Reid poll.
Nearly half of Canadian citizens in that survey say the border should remain closed until September.
“We are on the right path, but we will make our decisions based on the interests of Canadians and not based on what other countries want,” Trudeau noted in a news briefing at a press conference in Ottawa, the nation’s capital.
Only the feds that can make the rules on border restrictions. Canadian provinces have the power to enact certain public health measures, or ask for other regional measures like the Ontario international student ban, which never came into manifestation.
At the end of the day, decisions on travel restrictions are a feds collaboration with Health Canada.