Detroit-Windsor border officers handing out kits and support as health-care workers travel back and forth

Canadian Border Officers are handing out packages to healthcare workers who are working in the US during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CBSA officers lined up at the border Sunday morning to thank workers returning to Canada

Zain Ismail is an administrative health-care worker who crosses the border between Windsor and Detroit daily. He appreciates the steps the federal agency has taken at the border. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Health-care workers travelling between Windsor and Michigan during the COVID-19 pandemic are receiving a kit from Canadian border officers as they make their way back into Canada. 

"Thank you for the essential work you are doing in these unprecedented times," a letter from the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) reads. 

"From all of us to all of you ... Be safe!"

Ismail said he appreciated the tone of this encouraging letter from the Canadian Border Services Agency. (Submitted by Zain Ismail)

As of Sunday, over 14 thousand positive cases of COVID-19 had been detected in Michigan and the state had suffered 540 deaths. Detroit, which is just across the border from Windsor, is considered a hot spot for the virus. 

The letter is part of a kit the federal agency is handing out to between 1,500 to 2,000 health-care workers who are able to cross the border daily to work in Michigan and assist in that state's battle against the novel coronavirus.

"What was most surprising to me was sort of the tone of that letter," Zain Ismail, who works in an administrative role in health care in Detroit, said.

"It was very positive and encouraging which isn't something you usually see in a document from the federal government."

The CBSA said the kits are being given out "in an effort to make the border crossing experience of healthcare workers as smooth and safe as possible."

Along with the letter, workers are also given a mask, a form to fill out if they do begin to show symptoms and a bright orange sign that will identify them as a healthcare worker. They are also being encouraged to use the NEXUS lanes if they are authorized to do so and wear masks and gloves as they make their way across the border.

"I think it's great that the federal government is taking steps to make sure that its citizens are protected, that their own employees, CBSA officers are protected," Ismail said.

Reinforcing behaviour 

The workers, who are exempted from the mandatory isolation order so that they are able to cross the border to work, are also being reminded to monitor for any symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days starting each time they re-enter the country, to be aware of and respect the public heath guidance for their area and respect the intent of the mandatory isolation order when they aren't working.

"I think it also responds to some of the concerns that the community has expressed around workers still crossing the border," Ismail said.

In a statement Sunday, the CBSA confirmed it is handing out the kits and thanked health-care workers for the work they are doing.

Online posts also show border agents lining up at the Detroit-Windsor border crossing at a safe distance from one another Sunday morning to show their appreciation to workers on their way home. 

"The CBSA appreciates the dedication of the health care community and the essential service being provided to maintain the health and wellness of the people in the community," the statement read.

"Health care workers and CBSA officers are members of the communities they serve and know that Canadians are counting on them to limit the spread of COVID-19."


Jacob Barker


Jacob Barker is a videojournalist for CBC Windsor.


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