Canada-U.S. Border companies say COVID test not necessary for vaccinated travelers
Monday’s reopening of the Canada-U.S. Land border elicits a mixed reaction among Canadian business leaders: they are delighted that people and not just goods are crossing the border again, but are wary of remaining red tape.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Business Council of Canada say Canada’s requirement for returning travelers to provide a recent negative molecular test is an unnecessary barrier to starting business travel and tourism.
They say proof of vaccination is all that should be needed and the testing requirement should be removed.
They argue that the continuous testing requirement is too onerous for Canadian business travelers who want a quick visit to a U.S. destination, and too expensive for families who want a vacation or reunion with loved ones.
“If we believe, as we should, that being fully immunized is the best way to minimize risk, we should trust the immunization systems. We should monitor what is happening in terms of epidemics in both countries.” , said Chamber President Perrin Beatty. said in an interview.
“It’s a competitive disadvantage for Canada and North America to have rules that don’t match where most of the world is heading,” said Goldy Hyder, Chairman of the Canadian Council of Canada. business.
While the United States will not require travelers to test negative for COVID-19, the Canadian government is not waiving this requirement for citizens and permanent residents when entering Canada.
This means that when the land border opens for the first time to non-essential travelers since March 2020, it will not be accompanied by the end of a negative COVID-19 test requirement for Canadian travelers.
Beatty said the response to the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States 20 years ago offers the government a good lesson in risk management.
After the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon, the Canada-US border was closed. It quickly reopened because both governments realized that trade and the flow of goods and people across the border all had to resume, but with tighter security measures in place.
Businesses welcome the opening of the Canada-U.S. Border when the glass is half full due to a test rule. #USPoli # Border # COVID19
Canada and the United States realized they couldn’t eradicate terrorism, so they “took a risk management approach that said,” What we’re going to do is focus on the areas most at risk. We will use intelligence, “” said Beatty.
“But the government dealt with COVID in a very different way, which was not coordinated and which was not based on risk management.”
Meredith Lilly, Simon Reisman Chair in Trade Policy at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, said it could be some time before the impact of border closures and various bottlenecks are known on a key aspect of international trade – labor mobility.
âWe have all just been through the world’s greatest digitization experience. Many of us have been forced to learn to function in the digital environment and not travel to do work that once required us to. be in person, âLilly said.
“I don’t know if we still fully understand the consequences of … if this is going to have an impact on the liberalization of labor mobility, where people were doing mega-shuttles and where we were looking at labor mobility. workforce as an important and important part of the 21st – century globalized trade.
Lilly said the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and the new border security and counterterrorism measures that followed could prove instructive in the years to come.
For example, she said day trips between the two countries have declined dramatically, a result of what has come to be known as “the hostile border phenomenon in which travelers choose to forgo travel out of reluctance to face a closer examination.
The expense and inconvenience of obtaining a PCR test could be overwhelming. This could have a detrimental effect on tourism, leading to a decline in shorter, more spontaneous trips, Lilly said.
Large companies might be able to absorb the cost of the tests, but small companies might not be able to afford them, she added.
Hyder said the government needs to be more confident in the ability of vaccines to stop the spread of COVID-19 or at least weaken its impact on people who might contract it.
âWe need to have a new approach to how we manage risk and we see risk. And I think Canadians should be rewarded for their vaccine compliance,â Hyder said.
“If the only people on the move are fully vaccinated people, it’s about time we trusted the vaccine, and we recognize that the endemic nature of it means we have to coexist with it.”
Brian Kingston, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, said the auto industry is ready to take advantage of any new flexibility that unrestricted ground travel will allow, as the integrated industry and its supply chain straddles the Canada-US border.
“We have seen a continuous movement of parts and finished vehicles throughout the pandemic, which is very positive. However, we have had issues with the movement of personnel,” Kingston said, citing engineers and researchers.
“There have been challenges with the rules around the border, in particular the definition of what an essential worker is and the exemptions that have been provided.”
While air travel has always been an option, the fact that much of the industry is clustered around the Windsor-Detroit border simply created planning issues while generating additional expense, he said. declared.
âSomething comes up. You have to visit a facility or fix a machine. It was just an added burden to go to an airport and fly to the United States,â Kingston said.
“Having that in the rearview mirror is great.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 6, 2021.