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Updated: Jun 19, 2021

The border itself might not open this Monday, 21JUN, when travel restrictions are set to expire.

But one federal minister has hinted that’s the day when we may know some of the next steps in Ottawa’s border reopening plan.

On 09JUN, federal ministers announced the first step of a phased border reopening for Canada. As Open Jaw reported, it would permit fully-vaccinated Canadians – but not tourists – to enter Canada without having to go into hotel quarantine.

The catch? Although “early July” was mentioned, the ministers specifically refused to give a date for the start of Phase I, and the terms of future phases were not released.

Now, National Post reported that Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic Leblanc told members of the press what might happen this coming Monday instead of the border opening. He apparently suggested that, when the current order restricting travel to the U.S. is renewed that day, the next order may provide specific dates for the start of that phased reopening. So it might not be renewed for another full month under the same restrictions currently in place.

“This shouldn’t be a surprise, because we’ve talked about potential measures that could be phased in at some point in July,” Leblanc is reported saying. “We may signal in the renewal of these (orders) some modest, phased-in adjustments at the border, but with a date fixed (by cabinet) to take effect. It doesn’t have to take effect on the 21st of June…We’ll have more to say in the coming days around a phased-in approach at the border.”

The other issue that remains to be resolved is verification of vaccination status for arrivals when they reach the border. Any Canadian ‘vaccine passport’ would have to be acceptable to other countries, and in addition, the National Post’s report says, would require agreements with provincial governments here at home.

“The provinces, by virtue of their jurisdiction, have ownership of the health information, the vaccination information, regarding their citizens,” Leblanc said. “The idea would be to find the best common, secure platform for Canadians who want to have proof of vaccination in the context of international travel…If there’s a phased adjustment of border measures in July or later in August or so on, there may be a transitional measure. But we’ll have more to say about that in the coming weeks.”

Meanwhile, Across Canada…

The report says “B.C. Premier John Horgan told reporters on Monday that Trudeau is seeking to convene the premiers for a meeting on Thursday to discuss border issues.”

This comes as the provinces themselves are relaxing inter-provincial travel.

As of 12:01 Wednesday 16JUN, Ontario has lifted provincial border restrictions implemented in APR. Ontarians are now allowed to cross into Quebec and Manitoba for non-essential travel.

Ontario’s reopening to travel to and from other provinces comes one day after recreational travel within B.C was permitted, on 15JUN, as part of that province’s Step II of reopening. That doesn’t extend to travellers from the RoC, as Premier John Horgan said, “My advice to non-British Columbians: If you don’t have business here that’s essential … then please stay where you are” – at least for now. Step III includes recreational domestic travel within Canada, and that is set to begin on 01JUL.

Those two announcements come nearly a week after the Manitoba government exempted fully-vaccinated, asymptomatic Manitobans and other Canadians from 14 days of self-isolation when entering that province.

In the Maritimes, three of the four Atlantic provinces are set to reopen the ‘Atlantic Bubble’ next week. On 15JUN, Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador announced some type of reopening for residents of other Maritime provinces as of 23JUN.

New Brunswick says some, but not all residents of Atlantic Canada will be permitted in without self-isolating. Those coming from PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador but just one county in Nova Scotia will be welcomed, but reports say Premier Blaine Higgs is optimistic that will be updated to include the rest of the province “later this week.”


Trudeau’s update came shortly after news that the Canada-U.S. border is staying closed until July 21.

Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, tweeted the news this morning. He confirmed that the border will stay closed until July 21, however he added: “As we have said, the government is planning measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents and others who are currently permitted to enter Canada.”

Blair added that further details are coming this Monday, June 21.

Pressure from both sides to reopen the Canada-U.S. border has escalated in recent weeks, with the high season looming and with travel and tourism businesses facing a second COVID summer with drastically reduced revenues and visitor numbers.

The reopening has been a frustrating guessing game, and estimates from industry experts on both sides are ranging from the extremely optimistic (July 1) to much more pessimistic (Thanksgiving).

Canada’s vaccination rollout, slow to start, has gained impressive momentum in the past several weeks and months, with 65% of Canadians now with one dose, and close to 16% and rising rapidly for both doses.

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