Majority of Canadians believe Canada-US border should stay closed in August
WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Canada Border Services Agency recently announced the land border between Canada and the United States will be closed to non-essential foreign travel until the end of July amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
With peak summer travel season underway, many believe the border should stay that way — at least through August.
A new poll from Leger suggests a vast majority of Canadians — 86 per cent — do not want the border to reopen in August, while only 36 per cent of Americans believe the border should stay closed.
“If it opened between Windsor and Detroit a lot of people would go to Detroit and bring it back to Canada again,” believes Nicole Taylor. “I know that people want to get back to their lives, but in a sense, this is the new normal.”
But some Windsor residents disagree.
“For economic it’s good, for social life, it’s good to open it, but with instruction, I think it would be safe,” Raijn says.
“It’s better to open, it’s better to go step by step,” says Windsor resident Alban Agalliu.
An infographic map released by Johns Hoskins University shows the stark contrast between Canada and the United States in the fight against COVID. To date, there have been 2,796 COVID-19 cases per million people in Canada, while in the United States that number is much higher at 9,051 per million.
“They have 10 times the population their new COVID case rate is 100 times higher,” notes Windsor Mayor, Drew Dilkens.
The rapid increase of cases stateside and the steady decline in Canada — has infectious disease experts “terrified” about the prospect of opening the border any time soon.
"Border control and travel restrictions are a very key element in keeping your particular geographical area safe,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy told CTV this week.
Mayor Dilkens is also hoping the federal government takes a cautious approach.
”No one wants to see us go backwards here,” says Dilkens. “As long as the virus seems somewhat out of control in a lot of states in the United States, I think having the border closed is a good preventative measure for Canadians.”
Dilkens says he’s recently chatted with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, who was curious if there’s anything the government should consider when border conversations heat up in the coming weeks.
The mayor suggested more leniency for compassionate family reasons as well as those who own property on both sides of the border.
“I’m hopeful that the government will consider some common-sense exemptions as we move forward that might provide some relief to people who live in border cities like ours,” says Dilkens.
Bill Anderson from the University of Windsor’s Cross Border Institute says the impact on non-essential travel is great, but it’s also affecting “non-essential” commerce.
“There is a section in NAFTA and now in USMCA that applies to temporary business entries and those are the people that aren’t getting across now and it really is sort of an important part of that economic connection,” says Anderson.
Anderson tells CTV News the question should shift from ‘when’ to ‘how,’ in a way that doesn’t increase or accelerate the spread of COVID-19.
“We need to be thinking of that now, we can’t just keep pushing it down the road, because this thing could go on for a long time,” says Anderson. “We’ve got to think about the future as not being just as what’s going to happen in the next month, we need to think about what’s going to happen in the next couple of years, at least.”