In this photo taken May 17, 2020, people walk back and forth across the border between the U.S. and Canada in Peace Arch Park in Blaine, Wash. With the border closed to nonessential travel amid the global pandemic, families and couples across the continent have found themselves cut off from loved ones on the other side. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that the federal government is mulling over the idea of allowing U.S. border-closure exceptions for families split between the neighbouring countries.

Due to COVID-19, border restrictions on travel between the U.S. and Canada have been in effect since mid-March.

During his news conference outside Rideau Cottage on Friday (May 29), Trudeau told reporters that his government has received reports about families separated by the ongoing border closing to all but essential travel, specifically those with partners or children stuck in the U.S. because of work.

“We have taken unprecedented measures at U.S. border to prevent non-essential travel.. but there has been a numbers of stories in the media of families who have been separated because of dual citizenship,” Trudeau said.

In recent weeks, the prime minister has said the current prohibitions at the border must be in place to keep Canadians safe.

The issue of separated families, however, was brought up on his call with premiers during their weekly Thursday meeting.

“We have been looking at ways of perhaps allowing close family members, children, spouses, or parents of Canadian citizens or permanent residents to be able to reunite under strict conditions through a slight modification of the directives for the Canadian Border Services Agency,” Trudeau said.

B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said she’d consider allowing such a reunification to be allowed between immediate family members.

“There are a number of premiers who feel that for reasons of compassion, we should and could move forward with this measure. There are others who expressed a certain amount of concern about it,” he said.

“We will continue to engage with them, we will continue to look into this matter, and ensure that no matter what we do, we are keeping the well-being of Canadians at the forefront of any decision,” Trudeau said.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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