Last week I traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with American officials regarding the hours of operation at U.S. border crossings in Minnesota.
In late 2017, several US ports of entry along the Manitoba-Minnesota border adjusted their hours. As a result of these changes, the American border crossings now close earlier than their Canadian counterparts.
The changes made to the American side of the border negatively impacts a large number of Canadian residents. Many Manitobans use these crossings to shop, visit family and to travel to their places of employment in the United States.
Residents in the southeast corner of the province also rely on medical services provided in Roseau, Minnesota in both emergency and non-emergency situations. The early closing at the Port of Roseau impacts the unique long-standing agreement on the provision of health care services between Canada and the United States.
Last fall, we faced a similar situation here on the Canadian side of the border when the federal government decided to reduce the hours of operation for border crossings located in Tolstoi, Piney and South Junction.
Many of you joined myself and other elected officials at the two public meetings that were held to discuss these changes. Unfortunately, the decision had already been made and these public meetings were viewed by many as merely window dressing. That being said, hundreds of people from Provencher still turned out to voice their concerns.
In Ottawa, I personally spoke to the Minister responsible for the Canada Border Services Agency, the Honourable Ralph Goodale. I shared with him the concerns of my constituents and the serious negative impacts of those changes. And then came the good news.
With the spotlight shining brightly on them, the Trudeau government quietly reversed their decision and the border crossing hours on the Canadian side remained unchanged. It was a great victory for residents of southeastern Manitoba.
I am hopeful that last week’s meeting with Bennie Thompson, Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and other high ranking American officials, will also shine a light on the American decision and will lead to adjustments to the hours of operation on their side of the border as well.
I will continue to work hard to see that the free flow of traffic is improved to these crossings as residents on both sides of the border have come to expect.