A strike that would have caused major disruptions at the Canadian border that will be opened to Americans on Monday for the first time in 17 months was averted when border guards reached a tentative agreement with the government.
About 9,000 union members of the Canada Border Services Agency (CSBA) reached a proposed deal late Friday, after working-to-rule, or doing the bare minimum, during the day and warning that major delays would be encountered.
But the agreement means that fully-vaccinated Americans and permanent residents will be allowed into Canada for non-essential travel for the first time since the border was closed in March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. By mutual agreement between the two countries, the border was only opened for shipment of essential goods such as pharmaceuticals and food. Most of those goods are transported by semi-trailer trucks.
“We are relieved that CBSA and the government finally stepped up to address the most important issues for our members to avoid a prolonged labor dispute,” Chris Aylward, national president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said in a statement.
“The agreement is a testament to the incredible hard work and dedication of our bargaining team who worked through the night to reach a deal.”
Some idea of the chaos that a strike could have caused was demonstrated as guards worked-to-rule on Friday — delays for trucks carrying essential goods reached more than five hours at some crossing points, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Other changes Monday include opening airports in Halifax, Quebec City, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Edmonton to international flights.
All travelers to Canada will have to provide proof of being tested for the virus, as well as proof that they were fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to arrival, but they will no longer have to quarantine for two weeks.
The American border remains closed to Canadians.
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