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The Wilson Center Launches Task Force on Public Health and the US-Canadian Border

WASHINGTON – The Wilson Center announces the creation of a task force to study the problem of how and when to lift the joint restrictions imposed by the United States and Canada that limit cross border travel to essential transit. These restrictions took effect in March of 2020 in order to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, and have been renewed for 30 days at a time since.

Members of the Wilson Task Force on Public Health and the US-Canadian Border reflect the political, economic, and regional diversity of the 5,525-mile-long border between the two countries.

  • The Hon. Jean Charest is a former Premier of Quebec and Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada who is currently a partner at the law firm McCarthy Tetrault.
  • The Hon. James Douglas is a former Governor of the State of Vermont and Executive-in-Residence at Middlebury College.
  • The Hon. Christine Gregoire is a Democrat and former Governor of the State of Washington who is the CEO for Challenge Seattle and co-chair of the steering committee that guides the Cascadia Innovation Corridor initiative.
  • The Hon. Anne McLellan is a former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, was appointed by Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin as Canada’s first-ever Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and is currently a senior advisor at the law firm Bennett Jones LLP.

The members of the Task Force will meet virtually with various public-private sector stakeholders to understand the challenges of health screening and border security, as well as the impact of the border restrictions on communities, public health, and economic recovery. The Task Force will deliver its recommendations in April of 2021.

The Canada Institute at the Wilson Center will staff the Task Force and publish its final report. Dr. Christopher Sands, Director of the Canada Institute, has published extensively on US-Canada border issues. At the launch of the Task Force, Sands said:

The problem of how to reopen the US-Canadian border is both technical and political. Technically, how can health screening be incorporated into the existing inspections conducted at the land, air, and maritime borders without undue delays to efficient supply chains and the traveling public? And politically, how can the United States and Canada restore public confidence in the shared border so that they will resume cross border activities and be reassured that pandemic risks are being managed cooperatively and safely by both countries?

The Wilson Center is a nonpartisan public policy forum based in Washington, D.C., and the Canada Institute at The Wilson Center is dedicated to exploring and strengthening the Canada-US relationship by advancing the dialogue and the free flow of ideas on emerging policy issues.

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Canada Institute

Bound by common geopolitical interests and strong economic and cultural ties, Canada and the United States enjoy the world's most successful bilateral relationship. The Wilson Center's Canada Institute is the only public policy forum in the world dedicated to the full spectrum of Canada-U.S. issues. The Canada Institute is a global leader for policymakers, academics and business leaders to engage in non-partisan, informed dialogue about the current and future state of the relationship.     Read more