episode 49, season 10
Sunday, October 17, 2021
Host: Abigail Bimman
Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety
Nathan Friedland, Emergency Room Nurse, Montreal
Lina Metalge Diab, Liberal MP-Elect, Halifax West
Melissa Lantsman, Conservative MP, Thornhill
Lisa Marie Barron, NDP MP-elect, Nanaimo-Ladysmith
Location: Ottawa, ON
Abigail Bimman: This week on The West Block: a green light for American road trips.
Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister: “We are working to clarify and finalize all the details.”
Abigail Bimman: What you need to know before crossing the border.
Two months between election day and the next parliament? We’ll take a fresh look at the new season with a panel of new lawmakers from some of Ottawa’s freshest faces.
And, what to do about non-vaccinated health care workers.
Christian Dubey: “If we continue like this, we will fall into a wall.”
Abigail Bimman: Quebec extends deadline, threatens to lose 25,000 employees.
October 17 is a Sunday. I’m Abigail Bimman, and this is West Block. Mercedes Stephenson is away today.
Well, some big news this week for Canadians heading south for road trips, family reunions, and vacations. By November, the United States will open its land borders to vaccinated foreigners, no COVID testing required.
Jim Diodati, Niagara Falls Mayor: “Family on both sides, friends on both sides, we go back and forth shopping. It’s a real symbiotic relationship.”
Abigail Bimman: For more than two months, Canada’s borders have been open to vaccinated Americans any way they wish to cross. But since the start of the pandemic, Canadians couldn’t drive to the US
Patti Hajdu, Minister of Health: “It’s been incredibly confusing for travelers.”
Abigail Bimman: This will change on November 8th. You will be asked about your vaccination status at the land border. You will not need to show evidence until you are further investigated. You won’t need a COVID test to enter that country by land, but Canada still requires a negative PCR test.
Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister: “Our measures have been flexible and have adapted to changing circumstances.”
Abigail Bimman: And on the Canadian side, we still have conflicting advice on whether traveling is a good idea.
Patti Hajdu, Minister of Health: “We still have travel advice in place, recommending that people not travel unless it is absolutely necessary.”
Abigail Bimman: And to break down all of that, we’re joined by Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety.
Minister, thank you for coming here. I want to start off with the words of Patty Hajdu, your colleague on our show last week, who is saying that now is not the time to travel. It’s a confusing message with the US and Canada making it easier to cross the border. What is your message to Canadians looking to travel?
Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety: Well, of course we understand that there is a very strong demand for people who want to travel. For example, many Canadian snowbirds are anxiously waiting to find out if they will be able to move south for the winter. But at the same time, we also recognize that in international travel, when people travel to countries where circumstances may change, and we’ve seen that happen during pandemics, Abigail, where, you know, the rules suddenly have changed and people are not able to leave the country, or they may face, you know, last-minute changes in various jurisdictions where a travel advisory remains in place. But we’re also taking action to make sure that those who choose to travel can do so safely, and especially with the development for fully vaccinated travelers, and that’s well underway. work on the International Proof of Vaccination Certificate System as well as new regulations now being announced mutually between us and the United States, allowing travelers from both Canada and the United States to be fully vaccinated have gone, they will be able to enter the country for non-essential purposes.
Abigail Bimman: Minister, you know, you talk about being aware or being careful in certain areas, do you think the broader travel advisory of the government should be more targeted?
Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety: Well, I think eventually it will develop that way and one of the things — and, you know, the Deputy Prime Minister referred to it, throughout the pandemic, the advice we’ve been getting from our health officials, and We very carefully monitor the data and evidence around the world and while this advice continues to evolve, we are now also seeing that with proof of vaccination, the validation that is being done, as well as the usefulness of negative PCR The tests we have also conducted have proven to be very effective in protecting our communities and Canadians from the introduction of COVID across our borders and so we will continue to learn from those lessons and modify our advice as appropriate. . But in every case we listen to science. We listen to the advice of our public health agencies and we work closely with our international partners.
Abigail Bimman: We certainly expect more Canadians to hit the road in the US next month, and to make things easier your government has been promising a vaccine certification or vaccine passport system for months. Can you give us any updates on when it’ll be ready, specifically?
Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety: In fact, a lot of work has been done on this and the Prime Minister has indicated that this is a very important priority for us. We know that an internationally recognized Proof of Vaccination Certificate is going to be essential and very helpful for Canadians who choose to travel abroad. And so I’m very confident that in the coming weeks we will introduce those certifications. There is still some work to be done with our provincial partners on where the data is actually resident and to make sure it is available to Canadians across the country. But some real progress has been made and I am confident that my colleague, the Minister of Immigration, will make these announcements in the coming weeks. But a lot of work has been done and we have promised that we are going to complete this work at the earliest and the Prime Minister has certainly indicated that this is the priority of our government.
Abigail Bimman: Can you make any promises that it will be before the date on November 8th when Canadians will be able to travel to the US by road, by land?
Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety: I always think it’s important to perform more and stay under promise, but at the same time I’m very confident that work is progressing very well and we’ll have certificates by that date for many Canadian travelers. . But there are still some other contingencies that need to be addressed. We’re working through them as quickly as possible and I think in our conversations with the provinces and territories, I think everybody recognizes the importance of an international — you know they’re about to have a vaccine passport. Let’s talk. It is a proof of vaccination certification that will be accepted internationally. We are working really hard on that. By the way, the work continued throughout the summer. We have been working on this for several months and the result of that hard work will be announced in the coming weeks.
Abigail Bimman: So many pieces to this puzzle and so many, you know so much changing information and details. I want to clarify with you my understanding of a test requirement for Canadians entering the United States by air versus land.
Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety: For several months now, Canadians have required travelers entering this country, both Canadians and Americans, and foreign nations to be fully vaccinated and to show evidence of a negative PCR test. We understand that with the new regulations being put in place by the United States, they won’t need that negative PCR test at land borders, but they’re going to keep the requirement for people coming…