Canada-US border to close to non-essential travel

The Ambassador Bridge . May 24, 2018. (Photo by Paul Pedro)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he and U.S. President Donald Trump have agreed to temporarily close the Canada-U.S. border to all non-essential travel.

In an announcement on Wednesday morning, Trudeau said cross-border tourism will have to be halted for the time being.

“Travellers will no longer be permitted to cross the border for recreation and tourism,” the prime minister said. “In both our countries, we’re encouraging people to stay home. We’re telling our citizens not to visit their neighbours if they don’t absolutely have to. This collaborative and reciprocal measure is an extension of that prudent approach.”

However, Trudeau was quick to reassure the public that goods will continue to flow from one country to the other. He said supply chains will remain open.

“I want to be clear though that essential travel will continue. Our governments recognize that it is critical that we preserve supply chains between both countries. These supply chains ensure that food, fuel, and live-saving medicines reach people on both sides of the border. Supply chains including trucking will not be affected by this new measure. Canadians and Americans cross the border every day to do essential work or for other urgent reasons, that will not be impacted.”

The prime minister also announced an economic relief package to help citizens and businesses weather the COVID-19 storm. In total, the package is worth $82 billion. Roughly $27 billion will be direct support, while $55 billion is in tax relief and/or deferrals.

Among the highlights of the package:

-People who don’t qualify for EI or paid sick leave will be able to access the Emergency Care Benefit, which will provide money every two weeks (for up to 14 weeks) to workers who have to stay home. The amount will be comparable to what they would get if they qualified for EI.

-Anyone who loses their job, but does not qualify for EI, will be able to tap into the Emergency Support Benefit. This will also apply to people who are self-employed and have to close their shop.

-Small business owners will be provided a temporary wage subsidy equal to 10 per cent of salaries for up to three months in order to help avoid layoffs.

-Anyone who has already filed their taxes and owes money will be given until August to pay.

-The Canada Child Benefit will be boosted in the coming months.

-GST credits will be boosted for lower-income Canadians.

-Canadians who are carrying student loans will get a six month, interest-free moratorium on payments.

The full announcement can be viewed below.