Local MP Calling for Rapid COVID-19 Testing at Border Crossings

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Windsor West MP Brian Masse is calling for rapid COVID-19 testing at Windsor's border crossings.

In a letter to Canada's Public Safety and Health Minister, Masse says giving customs agents access to the tests could significantly reduce the risk of the virus being carried across the border.

The President of the Customs and Immigration Union Local 18 is on board and would like to see a pilot program started as soon as possible.

Ken Turner says quick results will cut back on quarantine times as well.

"We think it will be very beneficial to not only the health and safety of our workforce, but also to the travellers that want to to participate voluntarily in the program to minimize the amount of time they'll have to quarantine and potentially stop spreading to other family members or other members of the community," he says.

Turner says, even with the border closed to non-essential travel, it's still busy.

"We still have thousands of people crossing a day with the commercial truck traffic and the health care and commuter workers that are allowed to cross," he says. "So there's a lot of anxiety among our workforce dealing with these thousands of people every day."

The Canada-U.S border has been closed to all non-essential travel since March of last year in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Turner says customs agents are going to work scared each day.

"The rapid testing, we feel would bring a little more feeling of not so much as playing Russian roulette every time we go to work. That's what a lot of people feel right now. The rapid testing would greatly help in identifying the asymptomatic people," he says.

Back in October, the federal government purchased more than 20-million rapid COVID-19 test kits which can produce results in less than 20 minutes — Masse would like to see a portion of those kits used to launch a pilot program.

A similar program already in place in Alberta has seen more than 18,000 people volunteer to be tested with a positivity rate of 1.45 per cent.

 

With files from Kristylee Varley