Cross-border families ask for compassion with costly COVID-19 testing

Sarnia’s mayor is calling on the federal government to remove costly COVID-19 testing as a requirement for Canadians returning to Canada from the United States.

“They don’t understand border cities,” said Mike Bradley of a decision by the government to require testing at a cost he estimates to be more than $200 for each re-entry into Canada.

He said cross-border families will hurt the most.

“It is a huge burden on people who have done all the right things. They’ve gotten double vaccinated. They were looking forward to travelling. They’ve take all the precautions necessary. And to have those extra costs put on them…”

Sarnia-area resident Bob Vansickle said he and his wife Ann haven’t seen his wife’s parents since February 2020.

In that time, new relationships have been formed with children born into the family, loved ones have died and his elderly in-laws have been in failing health. The cruel irony is that they live just across the St. Clair River in Port Huron, MI.

“Since that time my brother-in-law has passed away unexpectedly. We haven’t been able to grieve his death. My father-in-law has dementia and his disease has really progressed since that time. My mother-in-law has developed congestive heart failure, and we’re just not there to be able to support them.”

The U.S. has announced it will open the border to vaccinated Canadians Nov. 8. Vansickle said his joy over the decision was short-lived.

“It’s something that’s going to cause us a real problem because if we’re looking at $200 to $400 each time we get tested, it’s just too prohibitive to be able to travel to the U.S. every day.”

Bradley, meantime, is hoping city council will endorse a letter he’s written to the federal government asking for a change of heart.

“We’re making progress with the border opening both ways for double-vaccinated people. Now they’re finding themselves in this bureaucratic maze, which is very very costly to exit from.”

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