The Member of Parliament for Provencher says it is high time the United States allows unvaccinated Canadians to visit their country again. And Ted Falk says his American counterparts from North Dakota and Minnesota are saying the same thing.
The United States still requires visitors to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to enter their country. Falk says he recently met with Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach of Minnesota's 7th District and Congressman Pete Stauber of Minnesota's 8th District. He notes folks on both sides of the border are tired of the delays in Washington.
"With COVID-19 behind us and Canadian COVID restrictions a thing of the past, it is high time the Biden Administration stop dragging their feet and open the border to all Canadians," urges Falk.
He notes there is strong support from Senator Cramer, Congresswoman Fischbach and Congressman Stauber to drop all COVID-19 mandates and restrictions at the U.S. border.
"They did indicate that that was a Biden Administration decision and that they were the ones in charge," says Falk. "Although, the representatives that we spoke to were strongly in support of dropping all mandates and restrictions. So, we hope to see that happen."
Falk says the U.S. representatives from North Dakota and Minnesota expressed hope that when the public health emergency ends on April 11th, it would not be renewed. However, since that meeting, word has come out of Washington that both the COVID-19 national emergency and the public health emergency will be extended to May 11th and then expire.
"The Americans close to our border feel very much that we're so similar in many ways that the restrictions shouldn't apply to us, but they do," says Falk. "And they recognize fully that Canada has dropped all COVID-19 mandates and restrictions at our border and that their citizens are allowed to travel freely back and forth unencumbered. And so, they'd like to see the U.S. Administration reciprocate and allow Canadians to move back and forth freely as well."
During the meeting, which included other Manitoba Members of Parliament, Falk says the MPs stressed the need to fix issues with the Safe Third Country Agreement to deal with the ongoing issue of illegal migration between Canada and the United States.
"We need to know who is entering our country and where they are," notes Falk. "We need to deal compassionately with legitimate asylum claims and judiciously with criminals and those hedging their bets. In order to do this and keep Canadians, Americans, and migrants safe we must have a fair and orderly system."
In 2022, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration reported the RCMP intercepted 39,540 people walking across the border to file an asylum claim in Canada.
Meanwhile, Falk says he was very pleased with the meetings and the overall level of cooperation and agreement amongst the parties.
"It's good when we can work together like this," says Falk. "Our constituents on both sides of the border expect results and that's what we're working to achieve, despite foot-dragging in Ottawa and Washington."
MPs agreed to continue to push Prime Minister Trudeau to make border issues a priority when President Biden makes his first official visit to Canada in March.