Feds reviewing cross-border separations but changes depend on safety of Canadians, says MP
'We've advocated on individual cases," says Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk
Windsor-Tecumseh Liberal MP Irek Kusmierczyk says his office has sent almost a dozen cross-border separation cases to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, but noted that any changes to the current travel restrictions between Canada and the U.S. will be decided based on the health and safety of all Canadians.
"We've advocated on individual cases and we've also made sure that we are voicing these concerns up in Ottawa, so that cabinet is made aware that there are these situations that are really also unique to our community," he said.
Canada and the U.S. agreed to restrict cross-border travel to essential workers only — including health-care professionals and truck drivers — in late March. That agreement has since been extended for 30 days twice, most recently on Tuesday, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used his daily COVID-19 briefing to announce that restrictions would continue another month.
Since officials on both sides of the border agreed on the restrictions, families across Canada — including in Windsor-Essex, as well as New Brunswick and British Columbia — have spoken out about the difficulties they've faced due to extended separations.
WATCH | Windsor-Tecumseh Liberal MP Irek Kusmierczyk says some cases have been successful:
Kusmierczyk said that his team is "alive to this issue," saying that government is reviewing existing border policies regularly.
"We know it's a very difficult situation," he said. "We're working as best as we possibly can, but we have to balance those individual cases out with the need to protect Canadians and protect our community as well in terms of keeping the border closed to non-essential travel."
Kusmierczyk added that Trudeau has expressed interest in "understanding what the local conditions are, what are our local concerns."
"So we talked about obviously making sure that the border is closed to non-essential travel, so that we're preventing the transmission of cross-border COVID-19," Kusmierczyk said.
WATCH | Prime Minister Trudeau questioned about cross-border separations:
Trudeau struck a compassionate tone Friday, adding that Canadians must be vigilant and take steps to avoid "another massive surge of COVID-19."
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland also addressed the subject last week during a briefing on Parliament Hill, saying that border agents have been placed in a "unique situation."
"Where families are having specific difficulties, I encourage them to get in touch with us, to get in touch with their local MPs, and on a case-by-case basis, we can definitely look at what's happening."
With files from Chris Ensing