OTTAWA — Canada should reopen the border to fully vaccinated foreign visitors, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Monday, adding he will advocate for the loosened rules the next time provincial leaders have a conversation with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
"Scientifically the chances of them transmitting are statistically insignificant. So we should follow the science, not politicize this," he said Monday while at the Calgary Stampede.
"We have 800,000 Canadians who work in the travel and tourism industries. We need to get them back to work."
Kenney said he raised the issue with Trudeau while he was visiting Calgary last week and plans to do so again this week when the prime minister has a call with provincial and territorial premiers. It will be the first such call since June 17, and comes the week before the current order shutting the Canada-U.S. border to non-essential travel is set to expire.
Canada recently got rid of its 14-day quarantine rule for returning citizens and permanent residents who can show they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and tested negative.
The border remains shut to tourists and residents from other countries travelling for non-essential purposes. The Canada-U.S. border is closed to non-essential travel until at least July 21, and Trudeau hasn't said whether that would be extended for another month.
Trudeau has said he knows people are impatient to see travel resume, but the country can't risk undoing its progress on fighting COVID-19 by opening up before enough people are vaccinated.
The federal government says until 75 per cent of Canada's population is fully vaccinated, border measures are the best way to stop the arrival of new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.
It's wasn't immediately clear which other premiers want to see the country's borders reopen. Kenney says of his colleagues, he's been leading the charge.
Back in early June, Ontario's health minister and solicitor general penned a letter to the federal ministers of health and emergency preparedness to say Canada's existing border measures weren't working.
It said Ontario wanted a national strategy on borders that would include a way to enable "safe international arrivals by fully vaccinated travellers."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 12, 2021
— With files from Bill Graveland in Calgary.
Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press