Windsor mayor says he'd travel to U.S. again for son's medical appointment

The Canada-U.S. border has been closed since March of 2020 except to essential travellers, which include thousands of cross-border workers from Windsor and Essex County.

'I would do it again in a heartbeat as a dad,' Drew Dilkens says

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens says he would make a trip to the U.S. again for his son's medical appointment, following a visit in April. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens says he intends to enter the U.S. once again within a few months, whether the border shutdown is in place or not.

Last month, the mayor brought his son, who is a minor and a Canadian-U.S. dual citizen, to Michigan to attend a medical appointment. 

On Monday's Windsor Morning on CBC Radio, Dilkens was asked about his trip to the U.S., which took place amid Ontario's shut-down order. Dilkens did tell other media he quarantined and followed all guidelines after that trip, but did respond to CBC's inquiries about the matter at the time.

"We have to go back in a few more months to finish up that appointment, and I make no apologies for it. I would do it again in a heartbeat as a dad," he said. 

"When facilities are closed here, and your kid is struggling, most parents would make the effort to do what I did."

He said that the trip was made to access a service that is not currently available "because everything is closed," and indicated he would be returning to the U.S. in about 2.5 months.

Border access for immunized people

Dilkens was also asked about whether he wants to see looser restrictions at the border, as some politicians have advocated for.

"We're at the point now, that if you are fully vaccinated and you can prove that, that there should be some lessening of restrictions at the border to allow fully vaccinated people to cross," Dilkens said.

When Dilkens crossed with his son in April, the mayor had not yet received his first dose of vaccine. Dilekens got that shot on May 8 in Windsor. 

The Canada-U.S. border has been closed since March of 2020 except to essential travellers, which includes thousands of cross-border workers from Windsor and Essex County.

There's no word on when the border could reopen, though CBC News reported Saturday that preliminary talks were underway between Canadian and U.S. officials.

A spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said such conversations happen regularly and cautioned that the current measures could stay in place for some time.

LISTEN | Hear more from Mayor Dilkens on Windsor Morning:

Another week to stay at home, and stay locked down. A conversation with Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens about whether he agrees with the lockdown extension. We also talk about when the border should reopen. 7:19

"Minister Blair is in regular contact with his American counterparts about issues relating to our shared border. Until the conditions on both sides of the border change very substantively, the measures at our borders will remain intact. The decision on when and how to reopen the border will be made in Canada, with the best interest of Canadians as our top priority," said James Cudmore, communications director for the minister.

At this stage in the vaccine rollout, 203,246 Windsor-Essex residents have been vaccinated but just a fraction, 15,345 people, have received both required doses.

In Michigan, 42.1 per cent of residents are fully vaccinated, though Detroit's coverage rate is significantly lower, at 24.1 per cent.

Dilkens said that if the border was open to those vaccinated, the number of Michiganders entering Ontario would be limited, given that attractions remain closed locally, and restrictions south of the border would likely discourage Ontarians from entering the U.S. as well.

"But I think the benefit here is allowing families to reunify in some way, which is very, very important. It's been difficult on a lot of people when they have loved ones pass away and they can't go two miles away to Detroit to attend the funeral. And also people who own property," he said.

With files from Windsor Morning, Katie Simpson and Peter Zimonjic


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