City of Windsor to ask Ottawa to drop COVID-19 testing requirement at land border

A motion to have a letter sent from the City of Windsor to Ottawa, asking the federal government to do away with COVID-19 testing requirements at land borders, carried at a council meeting Monday.

Coun. Gary Kaschak proposed a motion to council Monday

With the border reopening to non-essential traffic Nov. 8, Windsor council will draft a letter asking the federal government to remove the testing requirement for re-entry to Canada. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

A motion to have a letter sent from the City of Windsor to Ottawa, asking the federal government to do away with COVID-19 testing requirements at land borders, carried at a council meeting Monday.

The motion was brought forward by Gary Kaschak, Ward 8 councillor for the southwestern Ontario city, ahead of the U.S. border opening to fully vaccinated Canadian travellers on Nov. 8. 

Travellers entering Canada need to provide proof of a negative molecular COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their planned arrival at a land border. Molecular tests include PCR tests, as well as others such as a NAAT test.

Kaschak said this requirement is costly, especially to those in border towns who have family on either side. 

"I'd like to see city council send a letter to the federal government lobbying that we could have this requirement removed," Kaschak said, adding that other border communities have done so.

"Windsor and Essex County residents, and border residents have done the right thing already in being double vaccinated, and they're the only ones that are going to be able to cross the border."

Several councillors questioned the value of the testing system, given someone could get a negative test in Windsor before going across the border and using that test to gain re-entry.

"You could be with 500 people or 50,000 people, you know, over those days," Kaschak said.

Ward 9 Coun. Kieran McKenzie did not support the motion, citing safety issues and wanting to get health officials' perspectives on the idea of dropping the testing requirement.

No test needed to cross U.S. land border: congressman

Fully vaccinated travellers entering the U.S. by land from Canada will not need to present a negative COVID-19 test when the border reopens Nov. 8, according to a U.S. congressman.

Rep. Brian Higgins, a Democrat from New York state who co-chairs the U.S. Northern Border Caucus, said in a news release on Saturday that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had confirmed with his office that a negative test would not be required.

Higgins's office told CBC News that it had received a direct communication from the CBP confirming there will be no testing requirement for vaccinated travellers at the land border, unlike the policy for air travel. Those travelling to the U.S. by air will still be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test, though the U.S. accepts the cheaper and quicker antigen tests.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a news release on Friday saying travellers entering the country by land over the northern border should be prepared to provide proof of vaccination and "verbally attest to their reason for travel and COVID-19 vaccination status during a border inspection." The release does not mention the requirement for a negative test.

More from CBC Windsor:

With files from Christian Paas-Lang


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