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CIU urges federal government to review travel exceptions

Airplane seen from above.

With the COVID-19 pandemic not showing signs of slowing down, CIU is calling upon the federal government to review current travel exceptions to better control the spread of new and existing coronavirus variants and protect Canadians everywhere.

While the Canadian government has put some measures in place to reduce the risks of COVID transmission, these have not prevented variants from spreading across the country. Several provinces are facing new challenges daily in coping with the pandemic, and more needs to be done to curb possible outbreaks and allow our overburdened healthcare system to catch up.

Frontline workers across the country, especially in the healthcare sector, are exhausted. Provincial governments are putting in place increasingly severe measures. Many Canadian workers are confronted with mounting uncertainty, and marginalized communities are being impacted disproportionately.

Yet, Border Services Officers throughout Canada continue to have to contend with frustrating situations, notably when it comes to large numbers of non-essential international flights still arriving every day at major airports, adding to the list of potential vectors of transmission. The reality is that, while we continue to grapple with the pandemic, any non-essential flight puts both our members and the Canadian public at an increased risk.

The ongoing pandemic is undoubtedly complex to manage for any country, especially one the size of Canada. However, this is all the more reason for the federal government to act decisively where it can and re-evaluate its policies regarding exceptions for entering the country during the pandemic. There may be situations where entry needs to be granted, but the government must carefully establish what these are in order to more effectively manage the current crisis — and not needlessly expose Border Services personnel and other frontline workers.