With restrictions on travel between the Canada-U.S. border set to expire on June 21, a new survey shows that many Canadians would prefer if it stayed shut for longer.
A study released this week by the Angus Reid Institute found that a majority of respondents are against the border with the U.S. reopening as scheduled. About 42 per cent said they would prefer if the border reopening was pushed back to September, while about 26 per cent said the restriction should only be lifted next year. Only 14 per cent of people were comfortable with the current June deadline.
The survey found that even Canadians who had frequently travelled to the United States before the pandemic weren’t too keen on heading back. About 84 per cent of Canadians who live close to the border said they’d avoid trips over even when the restriction was lifted.
Perhaps the biggest concern for Canadians isn’t the States’ political response to the pandemic, but their record-setting number of cases. The U.S. currently has 1.57 million cases of COVID-19 and is nearing 100,000 deaths. By comparison, Canada has 84,070 cases as of Sunday, and 6,380 deaths. The Canada-U.S. border has been shut down for non-essential travel since March 16.
The U.S. response to the growing pandemic has been flanked by President Donald Trump’s controversies, from his funding spat with the World Health Organization to publicly admonishing the advice of his own top medical advisor.
Trump has also been keen to start reopening the U.S. economy, even at the cost of more lives. Trudeau announced the “mutual” extension of the border restrictions earlier this month, after Trump repeatedly said in April that it would reopen soon.
The extended border closure will cause a financial slump. Last summer, American visitors brought in $4.5 billion to Canada.
The bilateral relationship has been tested. In April, Trump prevented a Minnesota-based N95 mask supplier from shipping protective medical gear to Canada. Canadians expressed their outrage and Trump’s administration eventually struck a deal with the company and shipments resumed.
According to the survey, Canadians are also worried about travel within our borders. One in three respondents said they want to restrict movement between the provinces during the pandemic. 50 per cent of Canadians said they didn’t want legal restrictions to be put in place, but were still strongly against out of province travel.
The study surveyed a random group of 1,777 Canadians between May 18 to May 19.