It was announced this week that the Trudeau Government and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will be changing the hours of operation for three ports of entry in Southeastern Manitoba. These border crossings are located at Tolstoi, South Junction and Piney.
Currently the Tolstoi crossing is open from 8:00am to 10:00pm. The new changes would result in the port closing at 6:00pm instead – with the exception of summer hours when it would be open until 8:00pm. In both situations, summer or winter, travellers will be severely affected.
The South Junction port of entry currently operates from 8:00am to midnight. The new proposal calls for the operating hours to be reduced by 4 hours (8:00am to 8:00pm).
The third port affected, Piney, currently operates from 9:00am to 10:00pm and the proposed new hours of operation will result in a reduction of 5 hours of service (9:00 am to 5:00 pm).
While these border crossings do not see the same large volumes of people that a port such as Emerson would, they still play a vital role in travel to and from the United States for thousands of residents in southeastern Manitoba. This is true not only for people living right along the border but also for people residing further north who use these ports for trips to Minnesota and destinations further south.
In addition to tourist travel, many Manitobans also use these crossings to travel to their places of employment in the United States. A large number of these people work evenings, and these Canadians will no longer be able to cross back into Canada after their shift ends without a detour of up to 100 kilometers in some cases.
Changes to South Junction and Piney would additionally impact the unique long-standing agreement on the provision of health care services between Canada and the United States. Many Manitobans residing in the southeast corner of the province rely on medical services provided in Roseau Minnesota for both emergency and non-emergency situations. Their travel back from the hospital in Roseau will be severely impacted.
Questions also remain about the effect these changes will have on Stars Air Ambulance flights that currently use the Piney airport to land.
And to make matters worse, the Liberal Government did not hold any public consultations regarding these proposed changes.
This week however, we did learn that CBSA will hold two public forums in Piney and Tolstoi to answer questions and address concerns from residents in the area. Of course this should have been done prior to any decision being made.
On Tuesday in the House of Commons, I presented Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale with letters from myself, the Reeves of the RM’s of Piney, Stuartburn and Emerson-Franklin: as well as letters from MLAs Dennis Smook and Cliff Graydon. These elected officials, from all three levels of government, stated their serious concerns over these changes.
I would encourage all residents of Provencher who will be impacted by these changes to attend the information sessions and make your voice heard.
In a day and age where the current government seems to be doing all it can to make it easier and more comfortable for non-Canadians to cross our border illegally, it is simply unacceptable that they would make it more difficult for Canadian citizens to return to their own country through proper border crossings.
The meetings will be held in the following locations:
Piney Community Centre – Wednesday November 14th at 7pm
Tolstoi Ukrainian National Hall – Thursday November 15th at 7pm.
I hope to see you there.
For more information on this or any issue please feel free to contact my office toll free at 1-866-333-1933 or at 204-326-9889. Visit me on Facebook at: Facebook.com/TedFalkMP. You may also write my office at 76 PTH 12N, Steinbach MB, R5G 1T4 or visit my website at www.tedfalk.ca.