COVID-19: Statement by the National President on further measures announced

March 17, 2020
Image of border crossing with the words "COVID-19"

Sisters and Brothers,

While yesterday afternoon’s announcement by the Prime Minister regarding increased measures at the border is a step in the right direction to ensure the safety of Canadians, it is still not entirely clear what the operational ramifications will be for our officers. Our national representatives met with CBSA upper management yesterday in order to better understand the situation as it stands. Following our meeting with CBSA, here is what we know, beyond what has been announced in the media:

  • The ban announced by the Prime Minister took effect at 00:01;
  • Personal protection equipment (PPE) should be allowed in all modes, for all front-line personnel. CBSA will look into creating a guide to ensure PPE is used properly;
  • Medical notes will not be required;
  • Anyone not ill that has to quarantine themselves because of vacation or work travel will be granted 6990 leave for 14 days, backdated to the date of arrival in Canada, even if they have worked since their return;
  • Officers and employees who live in the United Stated and who are not ill will be exempted from the 14-day requirement;
  • Employees who cannot work out arrangements (such as shift change or getting assistance from a spouse or an immediate family member) and need to take care of their children will be granted 6990 leave;
  • Any operation – non-critical as well as critical – that can be done remotely will be done remotely;
  • Courses at Rigaud will be delayed after the current cohort has completed its training;
  • Flagpoling, training, telephone reporting, escorting, operations at land borders, marine operations – all of these have not been addressed by CBSA at this point. We stressed the importance of CBSA providing clear guidelines for all employees, and we’re hopeful that the employer will address this in a timely manner.

We realize that the situation remains uncertain for many of our members across the country. It is not an easy situation to navigate, and we are proud to see our members across the country continue to handle this emergency with aplomb. We will continue to put pressure on the employer to ensure that all our members have the support and the guidance they need.

We cannot emphasize enough the need to use the recommended protective equipment – goggles, N95 masks, gloves – for all front-line personnel, and we are glad to see that the employer agrees with us about the necessity of personal protective equipment in all modes. Our members are the first to interact with travellers on Canadian soil, and play a first-line role in the defence against this virus. In looking out for the safety of their fellow Canadians, it is also important for all involved in the response to this challenge to take the necessary measures to ensure their own.

Moving away from the border, we are also glad to see that Treasury Board is encouraging Federal employees to work from home if they can. We realize this may have little impact on those of our members who are on the front-line, but it is a positive development for our Brothers and Sisters elsewhere in the federal workforce.

As always, we will keep you updated as things progress. The situation is quite fluid at the moment, and remains subject to change.

In solidarity,

Jean-Pierre Fortin
National President
Customs and Immigration Union

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