Jarvis: The border is not really opening, at least not for everyone.

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There is a wedding in the family of Mayor Drew Dilkens in Michigan later this year. If he, his wife and their two children go, it will cost him $ 800 in COVID-19 tests to return to Canada.

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He can afford it, but some people can’t.

Too much to unite cross-border families.

The border is supposed to be opening, but it is not actually opening, not for everyone.

The United States will open its land border to non-essential travelers from Canada on November 8. All Canadians have to do is show they are vaccinated. But to return to Canada, they will also have to provide a negative molecular COVID-19 test, such as a PCR test, within 72 hours before the crossing. That costs up to $ 200.

It means that people who will have waited 20 months to visit relatives in Michigan still cannot visit them because they cannot afford the test.

There is reason for Canada’s caution, as Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk, whose office is being inundated with calls about this, said on Friday.

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Ontario, with a population of 14.5 million, reported 419 new COVID-19 infections on Friday. Michigan, with a population significantly less than 10 million people, reported an average of 4,039 per day.

Ontario cases are dropping. Michigan is increasing.

Eighty-four percent of people in Ontario are fully vaccinated. Only 59 percent of Michigan’s population is fully vaccinated. The number plummets to 38.6 percent in Detroit.

If Canadians are vaccinated, as they should be to go to the US, won’t that protect them? In large part, but not entirely.

Twenty-four percent of cases in Canada occur in people who are fully vaccinated, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get vaccinated. You absolutely should. People who are vaccinated are even less likely to become infected, and even if they are infected, they are much less likely to be hospitalized or spread the disease. But vaccination does not provide 100% protection. You may still be infected and you can still spread the virus.

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MP Irek Kusmierczyk (L - Windsor-Tecumseh) is pictured near the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor on Tuesday July 20, 2021.
MP Irek Kusmierczyk (L – Windsor-Tecumseh) is pictured near the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor on Tuesday July 20, 2021. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

A test is not foolproof either. You could test negative today and be infected tomorrow. But it does provide some protection against transmission by identifying and isolating cases.

And when he opens the border, he’s opening it across the country, and the fourth wave is terrible now in Saskatchewan, the director of public health said to tears at a briefing last week.

Canada’s border rules are based on advice from the Public Health Agency.

“One of the lessons we have learned is that we have avoided the worst of the pandemic when we listened to public health experts,” Kusmierczyk said. “The times we’ve gotten into trouble were when we walked away from it.”

However, given the government’s case of caution, you must ask yourself, why did Canada open its border with the US in August, three months before the US opened its border with Canada? Why did Canada lift its travel advisory to the US last week? Is it more about making it look like the government opened the border?

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What no one can defend, and Kusmiercyzk didn’t even try, is this silly rule: if you know you’ll be in the US less than 72 hours, you can take your exam here, before you leave Canada.

How does that protect our country? It is not like this.

You could join tens of thousands of people at the Detroit Lions game on Thanksgiving and the hordes of shoppers on Black Friday the next day, eating and drinking in busy restaurants and bars between soccer and shopping, all in a country with a higher infection rate and lower vaccination. rate and return to Canada without taking another test.

Readers who emailed me went crazy over this.

“This makes absolutely no sense,” wrote a couple. “How does a test done in Canada before our trip to Detroit protect the Canadian population from a possible COVID infection originating in Detroit? It just indicates that we were both healthy before we went shopping. This is blatant money theft and does nothing to protect anyone from infection. “

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A vehicle is shown in an inspection booth in the Detroit-Windsor tunnel in Windsor, ON.  on Tuesday February 9, 2021.
A vehicle is shown in an inspection booth in the Detroit-Windsor tunnel in Windsor, ON. on Tuesday February 9, 2021. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Another reader wrote: “The way a test in Canada protects against the importation of the virus from travelers into the US Defies logic, as the person re-entering Canada will not be tested after being in the US. This rule is clearly not science-driven and looks more like a public relations effort to appear to keep the border secure. “

Said Kusmiercyzk: “I am definitely asking the prime minister and ministers about that (rule).”

And, he said, “if we can do it safely, because that’s my number one priority, then we should have that conversation about harmonizing the Canadian and US measures.”

At the very least, there should be a plan for border towns like Windsor, where the dynamic is unique because families straddle this border. Sharing a family milestone shouldn’t depend on whether you can afford a trial.

But change, if it occurs, is not likely by November 8. There is a new cabinet, new ministers of health and public security, and they are being briefed, Kusmierczyk said.

Another consequence of calling those unnecessary elections.

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