Canada PM Trudeau indicates U.S. border restrictions to last a long time

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will not agree to lifting a ban on non-essential travel with the United States until the coronavirus outbreak is significantly under control around the world, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a news conference at Rideau Cottage, as efforts continue to help slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada November 20, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable

Trudeau’s comments were a clear indication that the border restrictions will last well into 2021. The two neighbors agreed to the ban in March and have rolled it over on a monthly basis ever since.

The ban does not affect trade. The two countries have highly integrated economies and Canada sends 75% of its goods exports to the United States every month.

“Until the virus is significantly more under control everywhere around the world, we’re not going to be releasing the restrictions at the border,” Trudeau told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. when asked about the issue.

“We are incredibly lucky that trade in essential goods, in agricultural products, in pharmaceuticals is flowing back and forth as it always has,” he said.

Trudeau spoke the day after his minority Liberal government said the budget deficit would hit a historic C$381.6 billion ($294.7 billion) on COVID-19 aid and promised to spend an additional C$100 billion in stimulus.

Trudeau, who relies on other parties to govern, would be toppled if the House of Commons votes against the measures but he dismissed that as unlikely.

“I am reasonably confident none of the opposition parties wants an election right now,” he later told reporters.

The border restrictions are opposed by the travel industry, hit by a slumping number of tourists.

But the premiers of Canada’s major provinces say they have no interest in re-opening the border as long as cases of COVID-19 escalate in the United States.

A second wave is also sweeping across Canada, where authorities are starting to re-impose restrictions on businesses and limit the size of gatherings.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Aurora Ellis