On November 14 and 15, residents from across southeastern Manitoba packed community halls to voice their concerns over the decision by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to reduce the hours of operation at three ports of entry in Provencher.
The local residents shared how the earlier closing times at border crossings in Piney, South Junction and Tolstoi would have a profoundly negative impact on not only these communities and businesses, but the residents who call these communities home.
Many people who reside near the border use these three crossings to travel to their places of employment in the United States. They also cross the border to receive health care services, to shop, to participate in recreation and to visit family members.
Residents of these border towns are inextricably linked together with the communities on the American side of the border. The decision to reduce operating hours would have essentially shut down any meaningful evening travel to the United States as those Canadians would not be able to return home before the border closes.
I spoke directly with Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale in Ottawa when the news of the reduction of hours came to light. I shared with him letters from the local Reeve’s and MLAs of the areas affected. And of course I joined with the hundreds of local residents to share my concerns at the public meetings – which were held AFTER the decision had already been made.
But, there is good news. Earlier this week, on the day the changes were to take effect, my office was informed that CBSA had decided to put the changes on hold. What great news this was to start off the week.
Minister Goodale’s office stated that the decision to put the reductions on hold was made in order to provide more time for community consultations. Of course these consultations should have occurred BEFORE the decision was initially made, but regardless, this is certainly positive news for our area.
So I want to congratulate residents of Provencher for making your voices heard. And while this week’s news is certainly very encouraging, we must also remember that the Liberal government could revisit this issue at any time. We must be prepared to voice our concerns should the opportunity arise again. As your Member of Parliament, please know that I’ll continue to stay vigilant on your behalf.
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.