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LETTER: Ford among premiers asking Trudeau for stronger border restrictions

Quebec, Ontario premiers urge the federal government to beef up COVID restrictions for air travel, land borders
20160921 CBSA International Brisge KA 02
Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Traffic Building at the Canadian border crossing of the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge. Kenneth Armstrong/SooToday

Premier Doug Ford is urging the federal government to roll out further restrictions at Canada's borders.

In a joint letter with Quebec premier Francois Legault addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ford cites concern for the growing number of cases attributed to variants coming into the country through international travel.

Currently, the border between Canada and the U.S. is closed until at least May 21. It has been shut down since March 2020.

The premiers are asking Trudeau to consider reducing incoming international flights and taking further protective action at land borders. 

This comes as a variant that appears to be wreaking havoc in India was detected in Quebec earlier this week. B.1.617 is considered a variant of interest.

The letter reads as follows:

The rising number and percentage of COVID-19 cases that are identified as variants is a concern for us all.

Collectively we have continued to take action to limit community spread and protect our citizens. This includes measures related to travel and to address people who arrive at land and air borders. We have been encouraging all residents of every province and territory to stay at home and not travel. We have appreciated this message being sent to Canadians across the country. In light of growing case numbers and variants of concern, a number of our jurisdictions have announced new restrictions on the land provincial land borders, with limited exceptions for essential purposes.

However, in the third wave the spread of infection as a consequence of new variants of concern is increasing at an alarming rate. We are seeing a steady increase in positive cases despite the measures currently in place.

The actions your government has taken to date are essential in continuing to limit the importation and spread of new variants of the virus. We fully support current measures taken, such as requiring a negative test from all passengers prior to boarding a flight or arriving at a land border, limiting the number of international entry points, and instituting new testing and quarantine measures upon arrival, but more must be done.

To protect the lives and well-being of our citizens, to ensure the health system is not further stretched, and to give time for the vaccine roll-out to protect the people Canadians, we need to the federal government to further strengthen measures at air and land borders.

We are concerned about the growing number of cases attributed to variants, which arrived in Canada through international travel. We are writing to you to request that the federal government take further measures to limit the spread of the virus. There is an urgent need to address issues with testing and quarantining at the borders, including falsified COVID-19 testing documentation, travelers opting fines over complying quarantine requirements, or travelling via private vehicle/plane to avoid quarantine, among several other areas of concern.

While it is crucial that the transport of essential goods is not hindered by border measures, it is likewise crucial that all non-essential travel be curtailed. The introduction of stricter measures for travellers crossing at land borders is a significant step to achieve that goal and ensure that collectively we are doing all we can to protect our citizens.

We ask you to strongly consider the following:

  1. Reduce mobility of COVID-19 variants by further reducing incoming international flights
  2. Roll out further protective actions at the Canada-U.S. land border

These new measures should be in place for as long as necessary, or until the risks of new variants presenting in Canada as a consequence of non-essential air and land travel has been effectively minimized.

Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter. I trust that the federal government will continue to make these difficult, but necessary decisions without delay to safeguard the health and safety of all Canadians.


Doug Ford Premier of Ontario

Francois Legault Premier of Quebec