Cloverdale-Langley City MP Tamara Jansen and Abbotsford MP Ed Fast said Ottawa needs to change tactics to get Canadians home from India quickly during the COVID-19 crisis.
In a joint letter to Foreign Affairs minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, the two Conservative MPs said they were writing to “express the frustration felt by many of our constituents who have been left stranded abroad due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. “
While the federal government has managed to bring many people home, others remain stranded due to travel bans and restrictions, they commented.
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“In our communities of Abbotsford and Cloverdale-Langley City, by far the most impacted residents are those of Indian descent who, due to no fault of their own, have been unable to return from India as a result of its government imposing a travel ban within the country,” Fast and Jansen said.
While there are efforts by the Canadian government and private citizens to arrange for repatriation flights from cities such as Mumbai and Delhi, the MPs said the cost of such flights, “if available at all, has escalated dramatically, imposing an additional financial burden on already stressed out Canadians.”
As well, almost all stranded residents are located in or near the state of Punjab, posing additional challenges in transporting them to major airports elsewhere in India.
“As you continue to negotiate with the Indian authorities and airlines to facilitate this travel, time is of the essence,” the MPs said.
“We implore you to consider flights not just from Delhi and Mumbai but from cities within Punjab, such as Amritsar and Chandigarh. This would dramatically improve the viability of returning our citizens and residents to Canada, as many of them are located in that region of India. We also encourage you to work closely with individuals in the private sector to achieve our common goal.”
The letter concludes with a wish that the minister to “please stay safe as you continue to provide leadership to our country during this very difficult time.”