The Member of Parliament for Provencher says he expects a few more Manitoba license plates will be crossing the border this weekend, thanks to the United States lifting its vaccine requirements.

Ted Falk says it is his understanding that Canadians wishing to enter the United States by land, water or air, will no longer be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and will no longer be asked their vaccine status. Falk says that is according to the website for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I'm just happy that the United States has lifted those," says Falk. "I think it's long overdue personally. Canada lifted those requirements last year."

Falk notes the inability to travel south of the border while unvaccinated has been a big issue for many of his constituents. For example, he says many snowbirds have been unable to travel to their favourite hotspots in California, Arizona or Florida. For some living along the border, it meant not being able to access healthcare services in North Dakota and Minnesota. And for others, it meant putting a halt to their weekend travel plans to places like Grand Forks and Fargo. 

"It's something that I heard quite a bit of and we're just happy that the Americans have lifted those restrictions," he adds. 

Falk says he lobbied hard on behalf of his constituents for the easing of travel restrictions. He suggests that might have made a difference in lifting Canada's requirements much sooner. Falk says he also worked with American counterparts Senator Kevin Cramer from North Dakota and Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota, who were both very supportive of opening the American border.

"I think that all made a difference," adds Falk. "We were all pushing for the same thing and I think when people work together collaboratively, they can get things done."

As a side note, Falk says he will be heading to Washington next week on an Interparliamentary Association trip where he will meet up with many of his counterparts whom he fought with for border changes. 

Falk says when Canada lifted its restrictions for visitors entering Canada, it quickly impacted our tourism industry, particularly for fishing and hunting lodges in the north. 

"My understanding is those operators are doing quite well and this has been a very welcome change for them," he adds. 

Again, Falk says the restrictions on the American side should have been lifted long ago. He notes Canada and the United States had been working in tandem on a lot of initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"I would have thought that when we lifted our restrictions that the Americans would have followed suit immediately and they chose not to," he says. "And they have the full right to do that, they are sovereign just like we are."

Falk says one thing he thinks might happen as a result of the restrictions we faced, is that Canadians will now appreciate the ability to travel freely, even more now than prior to the pandemic. He says Canadians probably took for granted the free and almost unrestricted access to the United States.