The past week has seen unprecedented events take place, with new measures to address the ongoing COVID-19 crisis being announced on a daily basis. To say that the impact on border services and our membership has been significant would be an understatement. The current situation has been taxing on all of us. As you continue to work hard to ensure the security of your fellow Canadians, it is important to remember that your union is there to support you, both locally and nationally.
At the national level, our representatives have been in daily contact with CBSA upper management. The positive, constructive relationship that the CIU National President has established with the Minister in the last week has had tangible impacts on the measures announced since by the Canadian Government:
- We brought up the issue of flagpoling as an example of a practice that unnecessarily monopolized important resources. Yesterday, CBSA made it clear that the practice would be stopped for the duration of the crisis.
- We flagged the lack of quarantine for people crossing outside of official border crossings, such as Roxham Road. In response, mid-week, Minister Blair announced a quarantine plan (the government has since also announced that irregular migrants would be sent back to the U.S. for the time being).
- Earlier this week, we raised our members’ concerns with non-essential travellers being allowed into Canada from the U.S. at land borders. We were glad to see the Canadian and American governments working together to put in place a solution, which is scheduled to come into effect tonight.
Union representatives have been working diligently to make sure the employer provides an adequate amount of personal protection equipment (PPE) across the country. Thanks to union pressure, CBSA confirmed that PPE should be used in all modes, by all front-line personnel, and they are looking at creating a guide to ensure PPE is used properly.
For those required to self-isolate, your union has been in contact with management at all levels to clarify the use of 6990 leave when required. As well, local Branch representatives across Canada have been participating in OHS meetings to keep informed of latest COVID-19 developments.
Throughout the week, PSAC has been providing guidance and support on different matters, including health and safety. In addition, the Alliance was instrumental in pushing Treasury Board to clarify the meaning of the term ‘critical services’.
As this week draws to a close, we are witnessing never before seen changes to how our border operates. These are challenging times, and the role played by our members is critical. Take care of yourselves and of one another, and reach out to your union for support whenever necessary. We will keep you updated as things progress.