CORNWALL — Local Eastern Ontario MP’s Eric Duncan and Michael Barrett are applauding the efforts of their elected counterparts south of the border as they urge the New York State Department of Health to expand the state’s vaccination program to include truck drivers from Canada.
Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that tourist non-New Yorkers are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. In a joint letter to New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, State Senator Patty Ritchie and State Assemblyman Mark Walczyk have requested clarification on whether commercial truckers entering New York from Canada, deemed as essential workers, qualify to get the jab while stateside.
Zucker and Ritchie have asked the Health Commissioner to clarify and definitely expand the eligibility in the same manner that other border states, alongside Western Canada, have already done.
“As with vaccination of tourists, expanding eligibility to Canadian truckers will not only help protect the health and safety of these travelers and any New Yorkers with whom they may come in contact, but also spur business and economic growth and speed the full reopening of the Canadian-U.S. border,” their letter reads. It also notes that New York has four of the most heavily trafficked border crossings between the two countries — Buffalo-Niagara Falls, Champlain-Rouses Point, Massena and the Thousand Islands Bridge in Alexandria Bay, which are all major truck portals.
“I am delighted to see the advocacy that is being done by my counterparts in Upstate NY to expand their vaccination program to include those Canadians crossing the border with essential goods,” said Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MP Eric Duncan. “We understand that the economic relationship between the North Country and Eastern Ontario is one of mutual benefit. The sooner we can vaccinate more people, the sooner we can start the process of re-opening the border and resuming cross border visits and our normal trade relations.”
Leeds Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MP Michael also expressed his gratitude. “The opportunity for Canadian truck drivers to be vaccinated and protected sooner is an important step towards our goal for the safe reopening of the Canada-US border, and I look forward to continuing the work with our counterparts on the shared economic and social ties between our two countries and our border communities.”