Details of Canada-U.S. border reopening expected soon

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — The Canada-U.S. border has been closed to non-essential travel for more than a year, but the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs says details on the reopening are on their way.

“These measures can evolve in a phased appropriate way over the next number of weeks, and we’ll have more to say about those specific measures and … the implementation details in the coming days,” Dominic LeBlanc says.

The minister adds the feds are also in talks with provinces and territories about creating some type of “passport” containing proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

“The urgency of coming up with a secure, reliable, probably digital proof of vaccination is something that we’re working on collaboratively with provinces and there may have to be a transitional measure — for example — if there’s a phased adjustment of border measures in July or later in August.”

LeBlanc says while health information falls under provincial jurisdiction, Ottawa aims to provide Canadians with a document to verify vaccinations against the virus if they want to travel outside Canada.

“The idea would be defined the best common secure platform for Canadians who want to have proof of vaccination in the context of international travel,” he says.

The Prime Minister has said the Canada-U.S. border would be a gradual reopening, with first access to those fully vaccinated.

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LeBlanc was not able to give further details, but he did suggest information may be released before Monday, which is when the current agreement is set to expire.

Meantime, there are calls for health officials to tell people what they can and can’t do once they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

In Canada, there is no clear direction on that, even though in countries like the U.S. there has been more detailed guidance for weeks on how fully vaccinated citizens can act, what they are safe to do again, and what measures they can continue to follow.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says it’s time the feds release a plan.

“We need to be very clear so that people have good advice to make decisions around,” he says.

Canada’s top doctor, Dr. Theresa Tam says conversations are happening between federal and provincial officials.

The public health agency had released vague guidance about what could reopen and what rules may be dropped when we hit specific targets as a society, but no specific guidance for people.

So far, 13 per cent of Canadians are fully vaccinated, but that number is set to rise significantly in the weeks ahead with millions of shots arriving each week.

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