“I don’t know if my crystal ball is any better than yours,” Garneau told Liberal MP Sherry Romanado, who asked the minister if the border would open before the end of summer during his testimony before the Commons Committee for Canada-U.S. Relations Thursday.
“We’re hearing from our stakeholders, and of course, from industry as well. We have to look at all of the information that we have and make the right decision for Canadians.”
Garneau cited the example of U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) who has been advocating for the border to re-open.
Higgins is the co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus, which the group of lawmakers have said their northern states’ economies hit hard by the border closure.
On March 21, Higgins issued a statement urging the Biden administration for a “full reopening” by July and “encouraging a partial reopening, including additional exemptions to allow families to reunite, much sooner.”
The Canada-U.S. land border has been closed for vacations and other travel deemed non-essential since March 2020 by the federal government in its effort to curtail the spread of COVID-19, the disease the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus causes.
But “we’re not out of the woods,” Garneau said. “There’s concern about the third wave and there has even been some discussion in some quarters about a potential fourth wave.”
The minister added that with more people getting vaccinated in both countries, “it certainly moves us in the right direction.”
NDP MP Brian Masse asked if Garneau will put in place a formal task force to resolve border crossing problems.
“We have the Canadian Association of Mold Makers (CAMM) who cannot get workers across the border properly. Your ordering council that you were part of didn’t accommodate for those types of employees,” Masse said.
According to the CAMM, the Ontario government has, in their legislation, categorized mold makers as “essential workers,” but they are not recognized at the federal level, causing challenges when they seek to cross the Canada-U.S. border for work.
“We were deemed essential for a reason. So, to be blocked at the border and asked to quarantine for 14 days makes no sense. It isn’t reasonable or fair,” said Jonathan Azzopardi, chair of CAMM in a statement on March 19, petitioning for fair treatment.
“We are not asking for wide open borders; we are merely wanting our essential work to be recognized and for border crossings to be allowed so we can fulfill our contractual obligations as part of manufacturing in Canada.”
Garneau said that the federal government is looking into it.
“We’ll examine whether certain classes of workers need to have access across the border that aren’t on the original list of essential workers.”