While he acknowledged the difficulty of an extended period of separation for many Canadians with family in the U.S., Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed that travel restrictions at the border must be respected in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In response to a question by CTV News as to whether family reunification is considered an essential reason to cross the Canadian-U.S. border, Trudeau said he knows that people are facing “extremely difficult” situations as a result of the government’s restrictions on travel.
“This is a difficult situation, but every step of the way, we need to do what is necessary right now to keep Canadians safe,” he told reporters in Ottawa on Friday. “That is our priority, to control the spread of COVID-19, to make sure that we get it under control in Canada, and that we prevent importation from other countries.”
The border between Canada and the U.S. has been closed to all non-essential or “discretionary” travel since mid-March in response to the pandemic. Last month, the federal government announced those restrictions would be extended until May 21.
On Wednesday, the prime minister said officials were in talks with U.S. Homeland Security to extend the closure for another month until June 21.
The prolonged border closure has taken a toll on couples and families with members on either side who have been unable to see each other in person for weeks.
Now that it appears likely the restrictions will be extended again, dozens of Canadians have reached out to CTV News to share their stories of separation and how it’s affecting them during these trying times.
Jackie Dunham – CTVNews – May 15, 2020.