By ALAN SHACKLETON
Beaches-East York MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith says it’s time to start taking steps towards easing restrictions and reopening the border between Canada and the United States for fully vaccinated travellers.
Erskine-Smith issued a joint statement earlier this week on cross-border travel along with United States Congressman Brian Higgins and Malpeque (Prince Edward Island) MP Wayne Easter.
The statement said:
“Reopening our countries’ shared border must be a top priority for our respective governments at this point in the pandemic. For more than a year, Americans and Canadians have endured separation from their families, friends, and property in response to the public health crisis.
“Guidance from both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Canada’s COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel is clear: individuals with proof of immunity can travel safely and should not be subject to quarantine requirements.
“It is time for our governments to listen to the experts and together release an evidence-based plan to reunite families, safely resume normal border operations, and quickly restore our two countries’ deeply interconnected economies.”
Higgins is a Congressman from Western New York who represents the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls in the U.S. House of Representatives as a member of the Democratic Party. He and Easter are co-chairs of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group which works on cross-border issues.
The statement came after a virtual meeting between Erskine-Smith and Higgins.
In an email interview with Beach Metro News, Erskine-Smith said he felt it was important to make the statement and highlight the evidence that travellers with immunity can travel safely.
“Our policies should follow the evidence,” he said.
The first step needed to be taken is opening the border to safe travel and ending quarantine for travellers with proof of immunity, Erskine-Smith said.
“This should be announced immediately, and we should work quickly in partnership with provinces and U.S. states to establish what constitutes valid proof,” he said.
“Second, just as provinces have begun to announce lifting domestic restrictions based on vaccination and contact tracing benchmarks, our federal government should work with our American partners to establish a longer-term and broader reopening plan.”
Public health guidance must be followed throughout the process, said Erskine-Smith.
“No one is suggesting throwing the borders open tomorrow without any continued restrictions, but there is no longer any evidence-based reason to restrict the movement of fully vaccinated travellers,” he said.
“With a focus on travellers with immunity, we can reunited families, support Canadian businesses, provide Canadians with greater freedom, and keep our citizens safe.”
Erskine-Smith said there are reasons ranging from compassion for family reunification to the economy on why reopening the border to safe travel needs to happen.
“These include the Canadian tourism and hospitality industry, the film industry here in Toronto, and businesses that operate across the border serving both American and Canadian clients.”
He said pitting public health against the economy has “always been a mistake.” Erskine-Smith said public health guidelines were followed in setting up the border restrictions and they now need to be followed in reopening it.
“We should now follow that same public health guidance to lift restrictions and support our economy here in Beaches-East York and across the country,” he said.