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Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the reopening of borders to international travel as the coronavirus crisis abates will happen carefully and cautiously.
In his daily briefing on Monday June 22, the Liberal leader said he was keen not to make the mistake of reopening too quickly, with the potential of sparking a second wave of the deadly pandemic in Canada.
Restrictions on international travel and the closure of the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March, designed to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The closure of the Canada-U.S. border was recently extended until July 21.
“Health and safety is our top priority,” Trudeau said.
“Now obviously there are places where the crisis is not as serious, but places where it’s still raging, so we’ll have to look carefully at what we can do and when we can open our borders.”
He added that the federal government plans to ‘move forwards gradually’ with the easing of border restrictions.
The Prime Minister said he was aware that many Canadian industries are desperate for international travel to resume, also pointing out that some countries have seen spikes in coronavirus cases.
In the same briefing, Trudeau also addressed the issue of migrant farmworkers who died from COVID-19.
After three death and several hundred cases among foreign workers, he warned companies found not to have followed quarantine and social distancing rules would ‘face consequences’.
The Mexican government, which initially stopped workers coming here, says Canada has committed to increasing the number of inspections and to working together to find solutions to the problem.
Despite travel restrictions, Canada has provided exemptions for temporary foreign workers who are vital links in the country’s food chain.
The following occupations related to Canada’s food chain currently qualify for priority work permit processing:
- NOC 6331 – Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers – retail and wholesale.
- NOC 7511 – Transport truck drivers.
- NOC 8252 – Agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers.
- NOC 8431 – General farmworkers.
- NOC 8432 – Nursery and greenhouse workers.
- NOC 8611 – Harvesting labourers.
- NOC 9463 – Fish and seafood plant workers.
- NOC 9617 – Labourers in food, beverage and associated products processing.
- NOC 9618 – Labourers in fish and seafood processing.
- NOC 9462 – Industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers and related worker.