Union says N.S. hasn't tightened tracking of visitors at N.B. border
NSGEU president Jason MacLean says conservation officers haven't been asked to change what they're doing
The head of the Nova Scotia union that represents conservation officers now staffing the New Brunswick border crossing at the Trans-Canada Highway says the province hasn't tightened up measures to ensure visitors from outside Atlantic Canada follow public health orders while in the province.
On Friday, Premier Stephen McNeil told reporters authorities would be "ramping up" procedures to ensure those not part of the Atlantic bubble could be tracked and monitored to make sure they were abiding by the order to self-isolate for 14 days before venturing out into public.
"When you get to the Nova Scotia border, you will be asked to provide ID, an address of where you are staying and a phone number," he said during a COVID-19 briefing. "This applies to anyone coming from anywhere outside of the Atlantic bubble."
McNeil made the commitment in light of the growing number of social media posts and comments by Nova Scotians worried about the number of vehicles bearing licence plates from the United States or provinces west of New Brunswick.
"We will be ramping up our calls and check-ins to make sure you are where you said that you would be and that you are indeed self-isolating," said McNeil.
But the president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, Jason MacLean, checked with conservation officers Monday morning about the change in procedures.
He said his members told him there was no change to their orders.
MacLean said they were instructed to continue handing out leaflets outlining the rules, but they were not to prevent anyone from entering the province, and are not requiring motorists to provide documents or any additional information.
"Flies in the face of what the premier has assured everybody that he was tightening up the border," said MacLean. "That he was making everything safer for Nova Scotians, but in fact we've been wide open ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started in Nova Scotia and it hasn't changed."
MacLean said the conservation officers have been frustrated by the job they have been assigned to do.
"They feel like they're doing a job that a billboard can do," he said.
"They're meeting people, greeting people, showing them the Nova Scotia way, but other than that, [they're] smiling and telling people have a great day," said MacLean. "That's all they're doing.
"They feel like their resources could be used better in the field and not at the border."
What the province says it's doing
At a COVID-19 briefing Monday, McNeil said beginning Tuesday, people entering the province from outside Atlantic Canada will be required to submit a form containing their personal information to conservation officers. He said if people who are supposed to be self-isolating can't be reached after three tries, police will be called.
McNeil said the form will be available on the province's coronavirus website Tuesday, but conservation officers are collecting the information from travellers today.
MacLean said conservation officers were told around 4 p.m. AT Monday that they will have a checklist to follow at the border. He said they were also told they won't have the list for several days.