Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)

CBSA officers’ union calls for vaccine priority in B.C.

Border officers at ports including, YVR and land crossings should ‘not be left behind’

The union representing border services officers is calling on provincial health authorities to add the officers – including those who continue to process truck drivers at the Pacific Highway and Aldergrove borders – to the list of frontline workers who are being given priority for the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Border Services Officers operate in environments where they are likely to come into contact with COVID-19 and should be prioritized alongside frontline workers,” Richard Savage, Customs and Immigration Union national vice-president, said in a news release.

“At YVR, one of the few international airports still open in Canada, flights from around the world are still arriving every day. According to the BC Centre for Disease Control over 120 international flights arriving at YVR from Delhi, Mexico City, and other hotspots have had a confirmed COVID case on board since January 1, 2021.”

B.C. health officials on March 18 announced that frontline workers, including police, firefighters, child-care, grocery store, postal and K-12 education staff would start getting the vaccine this month.

Groups to raise concerns in the weeks since about being left off the list also include workers who provide direct support for people with developmental disabilities.

READ MORE: B.C. emergency, grocery, school staff get COVID-19 vaccine starting April

READ MORE: Support workers for those with disabilities left behind in B.C. vaccine-rollout ‘oversight’

But while the support workers learned late last week that they had been bumped up in priority, the BSOs have yet to receive similar news.

Savage told Peace Arch News Wednesday (April 14) that there have been COVID-19 cases at both South Surrey ports – Douglas and Pacific Highway – as well as in Aldergrove, and in all cases (he didn’t have exact data but estimated the number of positives at at least 10 altogether), they have resulted in others having to self-isolate for two weeks.

Savage emphasized that the union is not asking for vaccine priority over others, but is “requesting that we be added to the priority vaccination plan for the Astra Zeneca vaccine that is currently on hold as are other law enforcement agencies or people who are at higher risk of exposure.”

He said the union has reached out through contacts with local MLAs, including one in Premier John Horgan’s office, with its concerns, but without success. While nationally, the union has succeeded in having its members added to the phase two priority list coming from the National Advisory Committee of Vaccinations, Savage said “those are only recommendations that the province can use or not.”

In the union’s news release, issued earlier Wednesday, Savage noted that Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is the only airport in Canada that is open to international travellers where border services officers are not prioritized for vaccination, and called on B.C. to follow the lead of other provinces and address the issue.

“Border Services workers and officers have been playing a crucial role in keeping Canadians safe, all the while exposed to significant on the job risks. They must be adequately protected to continue this important work. Frontline border personnel must not be left behind.”



tholmes@peacearchnews.com
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Border Services OfficerCoronavirusSurrey

Just Posted

Gerry Thiessen, mayor of Vanderhoof shown talking to students on May 17. Thiessen and other members of council officially announced that the rainbow crosswalk will be a reality. They were ready to paint a few lines of of paint onto the crosswalk, but weather wasn’t suitable for it. District staff will be jumping onto the project as soon as the weather allows it. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
School District 91 holds first ‘Share the Love Day’

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia recognized

Pictured above is a BCEHS re-enactment of paramedics attending an overdose. Toxic illicit drugs have claimed the lives of 498 British Columbians in the first three months of 2021, said the BC Coroners Service. (BCEHS photo)
Increase in overdose cases a concern: Fort St. James RCMP

Police issue public health announcement

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

A forest of dance-protesters outside the BC Legislature on April 11. These participants were doing the Dance for the Ancient Forest in support of the Fairy Creek blockade and against old-growth logging. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
Arrests begin at Fairy Creek blockade on Vancouver Island

Five protesters arrested as RCMP begin to enforce injunction

A thunderstorm pictured in Fraser Valley in 2021. (Black Press Media/Jaimie Grafstrom)
Wildfire concerns sparked after 320+ lightning strikes blasted B.C. yesterday

Approximately one-quarter of the province is currently listed as being at moderate risk of fire

A restaurant server on White Rock’s Marine Drive serves customers on a roadside patio. Indoor dining and recreational travel bans have been in effect since late March in B.C. (Peace Arch News)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate falls to 411 cases Tuesday

360 people in hospital, up slightly, two more deaths

The Banff National Park entrance is shown in Banff, Alta., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Minister asks Canadians to camp carefully in national parks as season starts

Kitchen shelters in Banff National Park closed, trails on Vancouver Island will only be one-way

Names of those aboard the ship are seen at Komagata Maru monument in downtown Vancouver, on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. The City of Vancouver has issued an apology for its racist role in denying entry to 376 passengers aboard a ship that was forced to return to India over a century ago. Mayor Kennedy Stewart says discrimination by the city had “cruel effects” on the Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims aboard the Komagata Maru, which arrived in Burrard Inlet on May 23, 1914. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says sorry for city’s role in turning away South Asians in 1914

Kennedy Stewart has declared May 23 as the annual Komagata Maru Day of Remembrance

A crew of WestCoast WILD Adventures employees tackled an onslaught of litter left at the ‘Locks of Love’ fence at Wally Creek on May 2. (Anne-Marie Gosselin photo)
Litter woes consume popular ‘Locks of Love’ fence on B.C.’s Pacific Rim

Popular view spot near Tofino plagued by people hanging masks and other unwanted garbage

Vincent Doumeizel, senior advisor at the United Nations Global Compact on Oceans, as well as director for the Food Programme for the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, pulls up some sugar kelp seaweed off the French coast in April 2020. He was the keynote speaker during the opening ceremony of the inaugural Seaweed Days Festival. (Vincent Doumeizel/Submitted)
Let’s hear it for seaweed: slimy, unsexy and the world’s greatest untapped food source

Experts talks emerging industry’s challenges and potential at Sidney inaugural Seawood Days Festival

Troy Patterson, a Cadboro Bay 15-year-old, got a virtual meeting with B.C.’s environment minister months after he started an online petition calling for construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline to stop. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
B.C. teen’s 23,000-name Coastal GasLink petition gets him an audience with the minister

15-year-old Saanich high school student and George Heyman discussed project for about 30 minutes

Most Read