Canadian border officials prepare to strike as the country reopens for travel

Aug 5, 2021

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Canada will reopen to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens starting Aug. 9, and vaccinated travelers from other foreign countries can start visiting Canada once again beginning Sept. 7.

But travelers might be faced with delays, as Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) employees plan to strike at border crossings and airports. The unions representing Canada’s border agents say they intend to strike starting Aug. 6, as a result of pay issues and what they called a “toxic workplace culture.”

“Travelers and commercial traffic entering Canada should expect long lineups and lengthy delays at border crossings and airports starting Friday, Aug. 6 as nearly 9,000 Canada Border Services Agency employees begin job action across the country,” the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) said in a statement.

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“We truly hoped we wouldn’t be forced to take strike action, but we’ve exhausted every other avenue to reach a fair contract with the government,” said Chris Aylward, Public Service Alliance of Canada’s national president, in the statement.

According to the statement, the unions and CBSA will meet again on Aug. 6 but said the strike would begin at 6 a.m. EDT nationwide “if a new contract isn’t negotiated.” During the strike, the unions said employees would perform their jobs to “the letter of the law.”

If the strike goes forward, it will put a damper on Canada’s reopening plans. The country is opening for foreign travelers for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Reopening Canada for travel will be a two-step process.

U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been fully vaccinated (14 days past the final dose) will be allowed to enter the country for nonessential travel purposes beginning Aug. 9. These travelers, whether driving across the border or flying, will still have to take a test within 72 hours of departure and test on arrival. Canada also said that it intends to open its borders to citizens of other countries as of Sept. 7, if things don’t deteriorate.

Canada says it will be open to any fully vaccinated traveler with an approved vaccine that meets specific entry requirements if the “domestic epidemiologic situation remains favorable.” That means if cases remain stable, vaccinated travelers from other countries should be welcome beginning in September.

Unvaccinated children under 12 will be allowed to enter Canada but must submit their information electronically through ArriveCAN and meet all testing requirements.

Featured photo by Cole Burston/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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