Ottawa — Foreign Minister Marc Garneau says Ottawa is considering expanding the category of essential workers allowed to travel across the Canadian-US border.
He told Parliamentary Commission Thursday that it could mean allowing engineers in the integrated automotive industry to be considered essential workers for cross-border purposes.
“We are specifically discussing various groups that may be considered essential workers who need to cross borders for specific reasons,” Garnot said.
The Canadian-US border has been closed since March 2020 to those traveling for vacations and other non-essential visits to limit the spread of the new coronavirus.
Garnot told a member of the Special Committee on Economic Relations between Canada and the United States that the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions slowed the flow of goods across shared borders.
“The situation is changing over time and we are very sensitive to the need to recover the economy,” he said.
Millions of dollars in goods and services still cross borders every day, with about three-quarters of Canada’s exports destined for the United States.
Garnot said that the health and security of Canadians is the most important factor in assessing border policy, but the government must be sensitive to the need to revive the economy.
“We always have to keep in mind that Canadian health and safety are paramount considerations.”