PEI·Video

MP Wayne Easter presses for plan for Canada-U.S. border reopening

P.E.I. MP Wayne Easter says it's time to figure out how the Canada-U.S. border can be reopened.

'We need a step-by-step process of the A, Bs and Cs'

Canada should begin process to reopen border with U.S., MP says

9 months ago
Duration 6:08
'Safety, yes, has to be the number one priority concern, but we have to start looking ahead at how we're going to revitalize both our economies in North America,' Liberal MP Wayne Easter said. 6:08

P.E.I. MP Wayne Easter says it's time to figure out how the Canada-U.S. border can be reopened. 

The border has been closed to all but essential travellers for a year and even as vaccination programs ramp up in both countries, neither has laid out the conditions for a possible reopening or any timeline.

Easter co-chairs a Canada-U.S. inter-parliamentary group and issued a joint statement Wednesday with his American counterpart, Congressman Brian Higgins, saying both the Canadian and U.S. governments need to make a plan for the border a priority.  

"So much matters on that border," Easter said during an interview with CBC News: Compass Thursday.

"There's Americans have land in Canada, even in P.E.I. here. There's family connections across the border. And we have a trade agreement where we are trying to create an economy in North America that competes with the rest of the world, so that border has to function well." 

Easter said safety does have to be the number one priority, but planning must begin immediately to revitalize both countries' economies. 

"We need a step-by-step process of the A, Bs and Cs, what has to be in place to allow that border to open, what dates we are trying to target to get it done," he said.

"So we can give our businesses and others assurances that there is a normalization down the road but with all the safety factors included."  

'Adapt as you go along'

Easter said his American counterparts say they are going full speed ahead on vaccinations and getting back to normal, but it's his impression Canadians may have some reluctance about opening the border, calling it a "fear factor." 

"There's almost a fear of if we open a border, even within Canada, then it's going to have grave health consequences," he said. "We have to lay out the facts, we have to ensure that's not the problem." 

A plan would visibly and publicly indicate what the government's objectives are to both businesses and families, he said. 

"If variants take off worse than they are at the moment, then you have to adapt as you go along," Easter said. 

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Steve Bruce

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