Canadian strike causes border backups

Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 6:32 AM EDT
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CHAMPLAIN, N.Y. (WCAX) - Nearly 9,000 Canadian border patrol workers went on strike Friday causing backups at major ports of entry across Vermont and New York.

The border backup on commercial travel on Friday came after the Canadian Border Service Agency went on strike, calling for new contracts with pay equivalency to other law enforcement agencies and changes to management. It’s been over three years since the CBSA saw a change in its contract.

“Not a lot we can do about it,” said Garry Douglas with the North Country Chamber of Commerce. “We encourage the Canadian government to reach a settlement.”

The strike on Friday was effective, causing delays at multiple ports of entry. “What will happen is the border official may have his or her manual in front of them and go through every point as opposed to select points,” said Chris Kirkey, the director of the Canadian Studies program at SUNY Plattsburgh.

He says the strike was planned strategically, with a general election expected to be announced soon by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “This has some leverage right now quite honestly,” Kirkey said, adding that the government doesn’t want to have any outstanding irritants that could fumble them up at the polls.

There is no timeline on how long the strike could last. Conditions are expected to get worse by Monday when vaccinated U.S. citizens are allowed to enter the country.

Lines have also started at local pharmacies for those Americans requiring a COVID test to cross. “A line all day. People who want to get home because they know that could be a travel issue and make travel times longer,” Steve Moorse at Condo Pharmacy in Plattsburgh.

The North Country Chamber of Commerce is letting businesses know there will be backups and to plan accordingly. It also has a list for businesses and travelers who plan to cross Monday to make sure they have everything ready before getting to the border, as well as updated information on estimated border wait times.

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