Vancouver – The Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Customs and Immigration Union are calling on provincial health authorities to ensure that workers at CBSA are prioritized alongside other essential frontline workers as part of BC’s vaccination efforts.
“It goes without saying that certain groups, such as the elderly, healthcare workers, or those working in very high-risk environments, do need to be at the front of the vaccination line. However, first responders and law enforcement personnel such as police officers or, in the case of our members, Border Services Officers, also operate in environments where they are likely to come into contact with COVID-19.” Says Richard Savage, Customs and Immigration Union Fourth National Vice-President, “With a 3rd wave now underway in BC, and with increased community transmission of COVID variants, it is therefore essential for these workers to also be protected in a timely fashion.”
Currently, as part of the frontline priority workers group, BC’s Immunization Plan mentions first responders — such as police and firefighters — along with postal workers, bylaw and quarantine officers, correctional facilities staff, and cross-border transport staff, amongst others. Noticeably absent from this list are frontline Border Services personnel.
As screening officers under the Quarantine Act, CBSA officers interview potentially ill travellers at YVR and other ports of entry, assessing them for signs of illness. And with commercial activities still going strong at the border, officers continue to inspect goods coming into British Columbia, processing truck drivers originating from or transiting through COVID-19 hotspots.
Workers at CBSA have been also instrumental in swiftly processing orders of personal protective equipment much needed during the pandemic and, recently, in clearing the first vaccine shipments at airports and land borders.
“Border Services workers and officers have been playing a crucial role in keeping Canadians safe and the cross-border economy active.” Savage continues, “They must be adequately protected to continue this important work. Frontline border personnel must not be left behind – they must be included in accelerated vaccination efforts in British Columbia.”