April 22nd, 2021 - 6:19pm
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 22, 2021
Masse requests Feds replicate an Ontario cross border worker vaccination program similar to Manitoba’s with North Dakota
(WINDSOR) – Today, Brian Masse NDP M.P. (Windsor West) in letter to the Prime Minister and Public Safety Minister requested the federal government establish a cross border worker vaccination program equivalent to the initiative announced by Province of Manitoba and the State of North Dakota. Additionally, Masse reiterated from previous letters the need for US assistance with regards to vaccine supply and administration along with the urgency of a binational task force on the border for developing the future eventual reopening plan.
The requests included the following:
- The federal government initiate the process to replicate the Manitoba-North Dakota Essential Workers Cross-Border Vaccination Initiative with both the State of Michigan and the State of New York with regards to Ontario-based truck drivers and cross border workers. This would help prevent infections amongst these essential workers and their families while accelerating vaccination in Ontario without impacting present vaccine supply.
- A task force be set up constituting business, labour, local elected officials as well as administrators from relevant public agencies on both sides of the border to consult and develop a land crossing reopening plan well in advance of the scheduled reopening of the border, whenever it is deemed safe to so by public health officials. A focal point in this coordination of this task force could be Canada’s Office of the Consul-General in Detroit, Michigan
- The federal government request and obtain additional US assistance to accelerate our vaccine procurement, delivery, and administration. This should be detailed as an agreement between the federal government and the Biden administration.
Link to the Manitoba- North Dakota Essential Workers Cross-Border Vaccination Initiative
Masse’s letter to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety:
“Dear Prime Minister and Minister Blair,
Today, I am writing you regarding the dire situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine administration in Ontario.
As you are aware Ontario is in the dark days of third wave of this public health emergency with the highest case counts, test positivity rates, hospitalizations, and ICUs at overcapacity. The province is in the worst situation it has been in at any time during this pandemic with health care workers from other provinces now coming to Ontario to staff facilities. This has impacted people with other diseases and conditions putting their lives at risk as well. With many of the infected being essential workers or their family members the circumstances continue to deteriorate. The need for extraordinary measures is readily apparent.
We have passed a year with the land border between the United States and Canada having been closed to all but essential travel. In communities such as Windsor-Detroit, the integration of the region is not only of the economy but of families. These restrictions have had significant strains and difficulties on individuals and families in addition to the challenges for businesses on both sides of the border.
My riding of Windsor West hosts four border crossings including the Ambassador Bridge, the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, the freight railway tunnel, and the Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry. These facilities provide access to the United States market on a 24/7 basis reaching over $1 billion a day approximating 40 percent of the trade between our two countries. Additionally, thousands of people cross the border daily during the pandemic who work Michigan as healthcare workers and in essential services such as power systems, railways, truck transport, ferries, air crews and our manufacturing supply chains.
As the vaccine rollout has accelerated in the US, with the Biden administration stating that all their citizens will be vaccinated by the end of May, the Canadian public has raised the valid issue of when they can be vaccinated and if border communities can be assisted by the US administration. Additionally, a further inquiry will be whether the US administration will help Canadians get vaccinated after their population has been, accelerating our own timeline. Both concerns need to be addressed in a comprehensive way with clearer and more precise communications and new initiatives than has been deployed previously during this pandemic when it involved border communities. As I have written to you both previously many times during pandemic, most recently on February 11 and March 3, where I raised this issue specifically.
Yesterday the Province of Manitoba and the State of North Dakota announced they have established a joint project, the Essential Workers Cross-Border Vaccination Initiative, where The State of North Dakota will provide COVID-19 vaccine to fully immunize Manitoba-based truck drivers during their routine trips to the U.S. over the next 6-8 weeks. The priority, according Manitoba, “is to vaccinate as many people as possible, as quickly as possible,”
Accordingly, I am requesting that federal government initiate the process to replicate a similar program with both the State of Michigan and the State of New York with regards to Ontario-based truck drivers and cross border workers. This would help prevent infections amongst these essential workers and their families while accelerating those vaccinated in Ontario without impacting present vaccine supply.
Additionally, I am reiterating my request that a task force be set up constituting business, labour, local elected officials as well as administrators from relevant public agencies on both sides of the border to consult and develop a land crossing reopening plan well in advance of the scheduled reopening of the border, whenever it is deemed safe to so by public health officials. This would help build public confidence and as well as discover intricate and nuanced challenges and issues that have arisen throughout this pandemic regarding the border. A focal point in this coordination of this task force could be Canada’s Office of the Consul-General in Detroit, Michigan.
Furthermore, discussions of additional US assistance to accelerate our vaccine procurement, delivery and administration should be outlined and then detailed as an agreement that has been reached between yours and the Biden administration. Since my last letter on March 3, I appreciate the loan of 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines, more must be requested. Public communication on this subject will allay concerns and reduce the questioning and consternation that has been apparent, and well reported on in the media, while demonstrating our two countries long tradition of cooperation.
I understand that this is a challenging and complex situation but anticipating and engaging in all possibilities will strengthen public trust and confidence. This public health emergency has required all Canadians, people, businesses, civil society, and all levels of government to work together and engaging in endeavours to make the situation less burdensome on all of us.
I appreciate your time and attention to this request. I look forward to your response.
Brian Masse M. P.
NDP Innovation, Science and Economic Development Critic”
For additional information please contact Mohummed Peer (519) 982-8816