Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic outside his residence at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, on Thursday, June 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic outside his residence at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, on Thursday, June 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Travel will have to wait, despite calls from Canada’s business leaders: Trudeau

Open letter to premiers, prime minister urges ‘safe’ reopening of travel corridors

Travel into Canada will have to wait a while longer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters at a press conference Monday (June 22).

“Every step of the way, as we look at those next steps, we have to make sure we are keeping Canadians safe,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister said he understood how “difficult and frustrating” the COVID-related travel bans are for many, but said moving too soon would just send Canada backwards in its fight against the virus.

“We know that reopening too quickly or careless would lead us to a resurgence that might well force us to go back to lockdown, to shut down the economy once again,” Trudeau said.

The Canada-U.S. border has been shut to non-essential travel since March 21, and is currently on track to remain closed until July 21, although the closure could be extended. Canadians have been told to avoid non-essential international travel abroad since mid-March.

READ MORE: Canada-U.S. border closure to be extended until July 21

He pointed to supports brought in by the federal government, which include the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, the wage subsidy, interest-free loans for small businesses and bridge financing for larger companies.

Trudeau’s words came after an open letter from the Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable.

In the letter, CEOs from companies like Air Canada, WestJet, Scotiabank and TELUS urged the prime minister and premiers to take action on resuming travel throughout Canada, as well as internationally.

READ MORE: Cross-Canada group calls for reopening of travel, tourism

The CEOs said Canada was entering a new phase of its pandemic response where the country “must find a responsible way to co-exist with COVID-19” until a vaccine is found.

“This includes prudently and thoughtfully opening aviation and lifting restrictions on travel throughout all provinces of Canada, as well as from select countries,” the letter said. The business leaders pointed to other regions, like within the European Union, that have introduced “‘safe’ corridors or air bridges” for travel.

In B.C., officials have said travel is on track to resume within the province this summer. In the current phase of COVID-19 restrictions, British Columbians have been asked to avoid non-essential travel throughout the province, particularly to remote communities that do not have the health-care facilities to handle an influx of virus cases.

“I think the likelihood of us traveling inside of B.C. is very, very high,” Premier John Horgan said during a June 10 press conference.

Meanwhile, the travel industry has been hit hard by complaints amid the pandemic. Many international flights, and some domestic, have been cancelled or postponed due to the virus. Earlier this month, the Better Business Bureau said travel agencies, airlines and vacation rentals had the most negative feedback during the pandemic. Overall, the bureau received more than 53,000 complaints and reviews between March and May – a 280 per cent increase over a three-month period. Of those complaints, airlines and vacation rentals received 2,565 and 2,089, respectively.

READ MORE: B.C. tourism on track for in-province travel, John Horgan says


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CanadaCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mirandy Tracy, left, and Tara Kurtz are two Langley mothers who are organizing a "sick out" for Tuesday, Dec. 1 to protest COVID conditions in schools. They're calling for masks and smaller class sizes, among other things. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Politician, labour leader throw support behind student Sick Out day

Langley parents started the movement to keep kids home on Dec. 1 as a protest

Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or in writing.
LETTER: Candidate in provincial election impresses Langley resident

A local resident wanted to send a shout-out for a candidate’s simple gesture

A small tree topped with a bow was standing out front of the vacant lot where the Alder Inn used to stand. It will be replaced with a much larger one, thanks to Langley Township councillors Bob Long and Petrina Arnason, who convinced a majority to approve a 27-foot tall tree at the Monday, Nov. 30, 2020 council meeting (Shirley Sawatsky/Aldergrove Star files)
27-foot-tall Christmas tree approved for former Alder Inn site

Township council funds 27-foot tree on lot where Aldergrove hotel once stood

Jackman Manor COVID-19 outbreak is over, the provincial health officer announced on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020 (file)
Outbreak at Jackman manor in Langley declared over

More than 400 new cases reported in region

A family emerged with a purchase at the Tannenbaum Tree Farm at 5398 252 St in Aldergrove on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Christmas tree season is off to an early start, Aldergrove family farm reports

People are ‘bored’ with staying home due to COVID-19 and want to decorate early, farm owner believes

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A heavy police presence was on scene on Dec. 28, 2017 following the shooting death on Bates Road in Abbotsford of Alexander Blanarou, 24, of Surrey. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Three men charged with Abbotsford shooting death of Surrey man

Alexander Blanarou, 24, was killed in a rural area on Dec. 28, 2017

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A convoy of seven pickup trucks, six of which were hauling boats, makes its way around the Chilliwack Law Courts on Dec. 1, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
First court date for Fraser River anglers ticketed during demonstration fishery

Convoy of trucks circled the courthouse in downtown Chilliwack Tuesday honking their support

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Most Read