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U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer pushing for reopening the Canada-US border

Thousand Islands

May 11, 2021

Photo copyright shutterstock

The CBC reported on May 6th that the top member of the U.S. Senate, Chuck Schumer from New York, has written a letter to members of the Biden administration making several demands regarding the border. According to the CBC story, Schumer has asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for four things.

The first is a detailed Canada-U.S. plan — to be released as soon as possible — explaining what rules and health-related benchmarks will guide the return to non-essential travel. He said this should add clarity and transparency to a process that’s confused and frustrated people.

And in the interim period, he immediately wants to see Canada and the U.S. allow more people to travel. Schumer wants the definition of essential travellers expanded to include vaccinated people who have property, educational, medical or business reasons for crossing the border.

He also wants clarity for boaters who, in areas like the Thousand Islands, would normally cross the border frequently and, finally, he wants a safety plan for border agents including access to testing, vaccines and protective equipment.

The CBC story noted that so far, neither national government has made it a priority to articulate a reopening plan for the border. Schumer’s entry into the debate is a sign of increased pressure on the national governments. In his letter, Schumer said, “Having endured one of the deadliest chapters in New York’s history, the residents along the border are ready to turn the page and re-establish the familiar links to their loved ones, their property and their prosperity.”

“It is now incumbent on the federal government to do their part and aid their desperate desire to fully rebuild and recover. This recovery cannot be done, and I will not rest, until bilateral collaboration to safely reopen the United States and Canadian land border is an utmost priority and a plan for a full reopening is publicly released.”

Nearly 50 per cent of adults in New York state are fully vaccinated, and indoor dining is expanding this week to near-full capacity in New York City.

While the United States remains far ahead of Canada in its share of fully vaccinated residents, vaccine hesitancy is becoming an issue in many states, the pace of vaccinations is slowing down, and Canada is steadily catching up in the rate of residents having received a first dose.

The boating industry hopes this attention to the border and related issues stimulates more progress on both sides of the border.

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