Last week, Canada announced that fully vaccinated American citizens and permanent residents would be able to travel to Canada for non-essential reasons beginning on August 9. The two-week quarantine requirement will not apply to these travellers, which means that Canada should be open for tourism again with the lifting of the travel restrictions that have been in place since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2021.
However, another potential issue that could threaten border crossings is looming. On July 27, two unions representing the Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) announced that the majority of their members voted to give them a strike mandate. This means that the CBSA could strike as soon as August 6, a few days before the border is set to reopen to American tourist travel.
If the CBSA workers do indeed strike, the border will remain open for travel, as many of the workers are deemed essential. However, potential consequences could include a slowdown of commercial traffic at the border and ports of entry, mail delays and problems collecting duties and taxes on goods entering Canada. The strike would not only include CBSA officers at the land border but also those at airports as well, so if the strike happens, all travel into Canada will likely take considerably more time.
The unions are fighting for salary parity with other law enforcement officers, better protections against harassment and discrimination, and a remote work policy for non-uniformed members. While the news of a potential CBSA strike was just announced, apparently there have been tensions for some months between the agency and the federal government. The union president has indicated that there were discussions with the federal government about some of the Agency’s demands at least two months ago, but no agreement has been made to date. CBSA officers have been working without contracts since 2018.
As of now, the government and the CBSA have a week to come to an agreement in order to prevent a strike. If a strike happens, expect longer than usual waits at the border as well as possible delays in the shipping of international goods. As always make sure to stay up to date with the most recent news if you are planning to travel, as the situation is evolving from week to week.
As we wrote last week, the United States had not yet announced a plan for opening its land border with Canada, despite Canada unveiling its plan to open its land border with the United States next week. Currently, Canadians can fly into the United States, but crossing at the land border remains restricted to essential travel only.
There is currently no plan for opening the border and the American government has not given any indication as to if the border restrictions that are set to expire August 21, 2021 will be extended into September. There are signs that the border situation is being discussed within the government, no official announcements have been made. Given Canada’s vaccination rate, the Canadian border opening to Americans, and internal pressure from Americans to reopen the border it seems likely the land border will open in late August. One consideration that may prevent reopening is an American wish to coordinate the border policy at both their north and south borders, and there is some reluctance to open the border with Mexico, which may, in turn, end up delaying the opening of the Canadian border.
Garson Immigration Law is a firm exclusively dedicated to the practice of immigration law. We successfully guide clients through the immigration process, with an eye toward the ever-changing regulations in light of COVID-19. We will work to find an effective solution for your individual immigration needs and ensure you are positioned for success with respect to your application.
The immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law are continuing to monitor the immigration fallout in relation to COVID-19 on both sides of the border and will provide updates as the situation develops. If you have any questions about your potential classification as essential or about how you should comply with the changing regulations, do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.
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