Ebola questions now greet visitors to Canada at border crossings

The Canada Border Service Agency has started asking travellers more pointed and specific questions about Ebola.
The Canada Border Service Agency started asking more questions related to Ebola a few weeks ago. (Canadian Press)

Cross-border bargain hunters will be met with a new slate of questions from Canadian border guards when they return home this week.

Thousands of Canadians are expected to shop for deals on Black Friday in the U.S.

The Canada Border Service Agency has started asking travellers more pointed and specific questions about Ebola.

Border agents at land border crossings have recently started asking those entering Canada if they have been in contact with someone suspected of having Ebola, have travelled to a location known to be dealing with the disease and whether they feel sick.

Jean Pierre Fortin, the national president of the Customs and Immigration Union, says the new questions aren't expected to create a backlog at border crossings.

"On Black Friday, I don't think the questionnaire would have a huge impact, but it's the volume that will have an impact on the time waiting," he said.

If travellers have been to an Ebola stricken country, they will be asked more in-depth questions.

"If somebody would say or we would feel the person is sick or the person actually looks like he is having fever or any kind of symptoms immediately the person would be isolated," Fortin said.

Fortin says the border agents are comfortable asking these questions.

He doesn't know of any incidents at the border that prompted the new inquires.

The local health unit  in Windsor, Ont., directly across from Detroit, Mich., raised concerns during the summer.

There is no strict screening process at North America's busiest land border crossing, the Ambassador Bridge, and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, the unit's public health adviser, says the fact border-crossers are in vehicles makes it even more difficult to identify sick people.

"I don't think that there is anything that we can do to protect ourselves, unless the person is really symptomatic and the border security forces identify them as an ill person and may contact us," Ahmed said.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.