THUNDER BAY — Thunder Bay - Rainy River MP Marcus Powlowski is welcoming the relaxation of requirements for fully-vaccinated Canadians returning to the country but wishes the government had done something similar for American visitors.
"I'm glad they're easing them. I think the fact they're not opening the border a little sooner to fully-vaccinated Americans is a little disappointing," Powlowski said in an interview Monday.
He noted that his understanding of the science is that people who are fully-vaccinated present a low risk of spreading COVID-19.
"You watch a hockey game in the U.S., and the seats are full. It's been at least a few weeks, and we haven't seen much of an uptick (in COVID-19 cases) yet. So I think the risk of worsening the situation by opening the border to fully-vaccinated people is low."
Powlowski added, however that "somebody's gotta make that call, and whether it's the beginning of July or the end of July, it's not my call to make. I can certainly understand that it's reasonable to be cautious."
The Liberal MP said he remains concerned about the impact of the ongoing border closure on tourist operators in Northwestern Ontario, such as the owners of fishing lodges.
"In the summer, they're almost totally dependant on American tourists, and they basically got no income last year."
Powlowski feels the federal government needs to do more to help the tourism sector, especially in areas that are more adversely affected.
"If we're going to be cautious for the sake of Canada as a whole, we ought not to leave all the costs of that being borne by the tourism industry. We ought to be doing more to assist them."
The Canada/U.S. border is currently scheduled to remain closed until at least July 21.
The organization representing Canadian largest air carriers also expressed dissatisfaction Monday with the federal government's announcement.
It called the easing of quarantine restrictions for fully-vaccinated Canadians a step in the right direction, but said the action falls far short of recommendations provided in Health Canada's Expert Advisory Panel report released last month.
"The government continues to refuse to provide Canadians with a clear and comprehensive restart plan...While other countries like France have already changed their measures to welcome Canadian travellers, we still have no plan or clear timeframe in Canada," said Mike McNaney, CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada.
It represents Air Canada, WestJet, Jazz and Air Transat.
McNaney said the government has yet to explain when and how major travel and border restrictions will be removed, in particular for fully-vaccinated travellers from foreign countries.
"Countries that successfully implement a science and data-based testing and quarantine policy will not only protect public health, they will also drive their overall domestic recovery and take jobs and investment from countries that do not," he said.