The Canadian border is closed to non-essential travel until 21 June during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CBC News reports it is up to border officers to decide who to allow to enter the country and who to turn away, depending on whether an individual’s reason for entering is truly essential.

This decision is not always clear-cut. In fact, an internal Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) document shows there is leeway for border agents to decide what is essential and what is “discretionary/optional.”

One CBSA document lists 62 possible scenarios border agents may encounter, some of which involve family reunification that have conditions and exceptions “depending on the circumstances.”

Here are a few of the 62 scenarios CSBA presents in the document agents refer to:

  • Foreign national coming to Canada to temporarily live with spouse or immediate family during the pandemic. The CBSA considers whether the individual is trying to escape the pandemic in the US or trying to ensure their partner’s health and well-being.
  • Coming to act as a caregiver for a Canadian family member (pregnant, disabled or elderly). The CBSA would ask if there are other caregiving options for the family member.
  • Coming to Canada for the birth of a child. CBSA considers factors such as Canadian hospital restrictions that may prohibit any visitor who has travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days.
  • A spouse or child crossing the border with a commercial truck driver transporting essential goods. CSBA may let them through if they are a co-driver or have no other way to get home.

Families first: Possible changes coming
Some experts argue that the reunification of families should always be considered essential.

In that same spirit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently said he and the federal government are considering easing the rules at the US-Canada border to allow immediate family members separated by the temporary COVID-19 measures, to reunite.

Compiled by Kristin Stanberry

Source: Internal documents show CBSA scenarios to decide who gets across the border — and who doesn’t (2 June 2020)

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