Public health officials have not been present to screen travellers at Canada-U.S. border crossings.

According to Global News, requests by the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) to have health officials placed at land border crossings to conduct screenings have fallen on deaf ears.  

CIU National President Jean-Pierre Fortin has said that there is “zero presence” of public health officials. 

“We’re still prepared to do the work and keep Canadians safe, but a little help from Health Canada would be really appreciated,” Fortin told Global News. 

When asked why there are no Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) officials present at the land crossings, Health Canada failed to address the question but said that they are available to contact if need be.

Meanwhile, PHAC employees have been stationed at airports to inform travellers on social distancing and quarantine measures and assist with CBSA screenings. 

According to Fortin, the lack of action by PHAC at land border crossings is putting the health and safety of border officers at risk. 

“If one of our officers gets contaminated and can spread the disease, we’re not going to be ahead here,” Fortin told Global News. 

CBSA statistics show that land crossings into Canada are nearly four times more frequent than air travel between March 30 and April 5. 

“We are continually assessing our operational posture with our colleagues at the Public Health Agency of Canada, including where their screening officers and quarantine officers are needed and best utilized. Should circumstances change, we will revisit,” CBSA spokesperson Rebecca Purdy told Global News. 

The federal government has implemented several travel restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

Among the measures is an emergency order under the Quarantine Act, which requires mandatory isolation for travellers both with and without COVID-19 symptoms. 

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