The Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce issued the following statement today about the importance of exploring every avenue to accelerate the vaccination of Canadians.
“With so many Canadian lives at stake and the economic well-being of millions of Canadian families hanging in the balance, getting our citizens fully vaccinated needs to be the top priority for governments at all levels.
Canada has made important progress in accelerating the vaccination of Canadians, but the job is incomplete until everyone who wants a second dose has received it. There are few medical procedures more important today than receiving a COVID-19 vaccine to stop the spread of the disease and protect individuals.
Given the close integration of the Canadian and American economies – particularly in the Windsor-Detroit area – we have a shared interest in protecting our populations and safely reopening the border. Speeding up vaccinations will support travel for business and leisure purposes that is critical to economic growth, but also for compassionate reasons to reunite families separated since the start of the pandemic.
There is a growing vaccine surplus in the United States at the same time as the supply of vaccines in Canada cannot keep up with the demand. That is the reason why second shots, which are critical to achieving maximum immunity, are being delayed in Canada.
Our Chambers, which represent businesses at all three levels of government, urge the Canadian and American governments to urgently deliver two measures to accelerate vaccinating Canadians.
The Canadian Border Services Agency and the Public Health Agency of Canada should amend the border measures to deem COVID-19 vaccination an essential medical purpose to ensure that Canadians who travel to the US solely for the purposes of vaccination are not subject to quarantine upon return to Canada. U.S. Customs and Border Protection should undertake mirror action to deem vaccination an eligible cause for admission into the United States by Canadians. This would rightly recognize the urgency of vaccination and enable more Canadians to get their second dose more quickly, while preventing the waste of excess vaccines in the United States.
Where possible, governments in the two countries should make it possible for Canadians to get vaccinated on the U.S. side of the border without leaving their vehicles before returning to Canada. Such an arrangement has already been proposed for the Ambassador Bridge crossing.
Additionally, Canada should redouble its efforts to secure more vaccines from the United States through government-to-government transactions or other means to bring forward the timing for Canadians to receive their second dose. Accelerating second shots will move us to herd immunity more quickly and free up shipments coming to Canada later in the year to be shared globally.
These measures would build on the goodwill initiatives being pursued in the Detroit-Windsor area but that have run into unnecessary roadblocks. We have already seen what is possible when organizations take their own initiative, such as the work of the Blackfeet Tribe on the Alberta-Montana border to provide vaccinations and the vaccination of truck drivers on the Manitoba-North Dakota border.
We are in a race against time to combat COVID-19 and prevent new variants from taking hold. Our Chambers call for enhanced collaboration with government to achieve these goals and to allow our citizens to resume more normal lives as quickly as possible.”