Trudeau says Canada 'still in a pandemic', defends vaccine border measures

Trudeau said that it was still too early to lift restrictions, such as those that demand tourists show COVID-19 vaccine proof.

Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal QC

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended his government's recent extension of Canada's border restrictions, saying that all decisions made are "anchored in science."

Trudeau extended border measures despite travel and tourism representatives, as well as a growing number of medical experts, call for a relaxing of mandates both at the border and for domestic travel.

Trudeau said that it was still too early to lift restrictions, such as those that demand tourists show COVID-19 vaccine proof.

"The reality is, as much as people would like to pretend we’re not, we’re still in a pandemic. There are Canadians who die every single day because of COVID-19," he said.

"I know people are eager to get back to things we love but what will also further damage our tourism industry is if we get another wave."

A press conference by industry groups was held later on Wednesday that called on the Trudeau Liberals to lift some travel restrictions that have caused long delays at airports.

"We did our part to keep Canadians safe and now it is finally our turn to recover. Travel is back with a vengeance and we could not be happier but the passenger experience at our Canadian airports is a challenge," said Susie Grynol, President and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada, according to CTV News.

Monette Pasher of the Canadian Airports Council also said that the government should move to increase Canadian Air Transport Security Authority and Canada Border Service Agency staff.

"We’re urging the federal government to take three concrete actions in the short term to immediately alleviate pressure on the system. They include: removing onsite mandatory testing from Canada’s airports, removing the Public Health Agency of Canada’s duplicate health check questions at government custom checkpoints and at the international border and removing vaccination mandates for CATSA and CBSA workers," she said.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said on Tuesday that border measures would be in place until at least June 30.

Liberal MP Nate Erskine-Smith recently voiced his concerns over the two-dose vaccine mandates after he abstained from the Conservative motion to revert to pre-pandemic travel measures.

"I didn’t support the idea of dropping masks right away, but I’ve also made it clear to the government that a two-dose vaccine mandate without accommodation is no longer justified," he wrote on Twitter.

"We first debated these questions at the end of February. At that time, Dr. Tam had indicated that a review of mandates was warranted.

"As I noted in my reasons then, an immediate and transparent re-evaluation should have taken place at that time.

"Nothing about the re-evaluation of travel-related measures has been transparent.

"It is not clear what Dr. Tam’s recommendations are, and there’s been no adequate justification provided for continuing the exclusive two-dose mandate.

"The justifications for any mandate are to increase rates and reduce transmission risk.

"But the current mandate has exhausted its usefulness in reaching new people, and the impact of two doses on transmission risk is too low," he continued.


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